Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mamma Mia, here we go again

Phew, Africa Water Week is brilliant, but it sure is gruelling! Sessions, plenary, debates over coffee and its been peppered with great conversations and meetings with many members and partners. Not to mention surprise conversations with a Water Minister on his love of Mamma Mia.

The official opening was on Monday– with speeches from dignitaries and a group of Masai who proclaimed "We need water now! We want water now!" The week is focused on implementing prior commitments such as eThekwini, and the African Development Bank set the tone, demanding, "I ask you – do not make more commitments – take action". Something reiterated by civil society present at the meeting.

Clarissa Brocklehurst of UNICEF presented the current situation facing the water and sanitation sector, with the clear statement that we’re still facing a crisis in Africa. 58 countries are off track on the sanitation MDG round the world, with a startling 39 of them in Africa – meaning 315 million people who should have been served by 2015 won’t have been. It’s hard to hear for people working so hard, but drives us forward to achieve more – there’s a real need to focus donors, the public and developing governments onto sanitation, and it’s part of our job to do just that.

I’ve attended ‘Closing the Sanitation Gap’ sessions including a talk regarding future advocacy and campaigning opportunities following the successful UN International Year of Sanitation. The presenter, Jon Lane, gave The World’s Longest Toilet Queue as THE activity to get involved with next year! It was great to see that, and has got me thinking of the potential for the event to reach out to many NGOs and give us a joint global moment to push sanitation back on the agenda.

Then followed a hilarious conversation with a Water Minister (to remain unnamed!) on his love of Mama Mia (the West End version is better than the Broadway). Couldn’t comment as I haven’t seen them, but did discuss End Water Poverty – a great lobbying opportunity!

Will write up what’s happened since – including an extraordinary and groundbreaking commitment to water and sanitation from one of Africa’s leaders.

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