Thursday, 2 December 2010
We've written an online campaign consultation to gather the views of our members and partners on the campaign so far, and your thoughts on what we should prioritise in the three years ahead.
A lot has been achieved so far: we've successfully lobbied for a new partnership of global governments, multilaterals and civil society called the Sanitation and Water for All initiative; we've mobilised 1.25 million actions from the general public worldwide, and we've pushed water and sanitation up the political and development agendas. (Find out more here).
But there's a lot left to do. And that's where you come in.
Fill in the online consultation to tell us how you feel we should be tackling the water and sanitation crisis. We'll take your views to our international planning meeting in January and let you know how we're getting on.
Please click here to fill out the survey, we want to hear your views!
Deadline for the consultation is 17th Dec - looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
International Campaign Coordinator
End Water Poverty
This week's Africa Water Week opened yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 1000 government officials, civil society representatives, and partners such as the EU and representatives from rich country governments. Lots of End Water Poverty members are here from all over Africa and others like Wash United too. The facts on the lack of clean drinking water and toilets for the African continent were presented in several different ways, and the challenge of increasing provision dramatically during the next five years to reach the Millenium Development Goals by 2015. Everyone is committed to bring fresh water and toilets to the millions of people across Africa who don't have these. So, after the big introductions and starting speeches, the recurring theme is that of HOW can we do this?
So much has already been done - and so many more people have access to drinking water, but the challenge is how to keep up with increasing populations and runaway urbanisation. It's great to hear stories of campaigning really working in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya and to see such mutual cooperation between civil society and governments officials as dialogue has become the order of the day. Without community participation, projects do not make a lasting change, and this seems to be pretty much accepted in the debates I heard. Themes of debates have been on climate change, urbanisations, developing institutions and financing, and the African Water Ministers will be discussing these later in the week.
It's great for me to learn so much about the many, many organisations working to bring water and sanitation to more people in Africa. Being here at Africa Water Week is a real mixture of hope and recognition of so much work done, with frustration at the scale of the current crisis in water and sanitation.
I've met so many great campaigners here and look forward to working together as we do the World Walks for Water event next March and really use this to make water and saniatation the political priorities they should be.
Monday, 22 November 2010
This morning 35,000 people did a 10km run through Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in bright yellow shirts with 'End Poverty' on. That looked a lot of fun, and I am in Addis Ababa, but I didn't run! Instead I went to another event aiming to end poverty. No bright yellow shirts, just suits and a fairly normal looking meeting but no less exciting for that.
I've spent two days at the Sanitation and Water For All meeting - a great process which End Water Poverty campaigned for and is now up and running. Here in the same room were people from Northern countries, Africa and Asia and from governments, development banks, global aid organisations and activists all sitting down together to make progress in solving the crisis in water and sanitation.
Not for a minute did that meeting forget that 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation and there is a water and sanitation crisis which results in 4,000 children dying from preventable diseases a day. But this was not a meeting about slogans and just calling for action. These were just the right people who can effect the vision for change through political pressure for more money, providing the real evidence needed to know what the solutions are in the poorest countries, and working in countries to spend the money right - so it really goes to the most marginalised and affected.
The World's Longest Toilet Queue was a fantastic global effort for change in March, and the following High-Level Meeting of Sanitation and Water For All earlier this year was a real success. The meeting this weekend showed that no one is wasting any time in moving forward and keeping up the pressure.
One Northern government representative told me that plans to cut another area of aid funding stopped when there was a public outcry, but he's never seen this on a water and sanitation issue. So here's the clear challenge to all End Water Poverty members: put pressure on all Governments involved to fund water and sanitation work and then to make sure the money is spent for the good of the poorest. Toilets and taps for all!
After the meeting I went to register for the Africa Water Week which starts tomorrow. The process was surprisingly painless and quick and I have my badge - more on that tomorrow.
Friday, 5 November 2010
“The World’s Longest Toilet Queue was a huge event in Nepal – we saw schools, universities, companies and whole communities across the country getting involved to make a stand for water and sanitation.
It was fun and diverse – over 27 districts got involved, including 8,000 people from rural communities. Sanitation is a taboo subject in our culture, so the total number of 30,000 participants was very much impressive and made an impression on the government
The result of this has been increased government commitment to reduce diarrhoea rates in dry seasons, resulting in a significant drop in the number of deaths this year. We’ve also seen an improvement in our policy strategy as we lobby for the inclusion of water and sanitation in the constitution. Furthermore, the country’s master plan of sanitation and hygiene is also in the last phase of development.
Regarding sustaining the trend of increasing budgetary provision to the sector, due to political conflict, the formal budgetary process has been halted, but we are seeing trends of increasing funding to water and sanitation.
And lastly, the campaign provided real opportunities to work with a more diverse network of organisations outside of the water and sanitation sector, such as youth organisations and private sector institutions and even celebrities. This has all helped our campaign messages reach new audiences and we’ve found new voices calling for change.
With all this success, there still remains much to be done. Nepal remains one of the least developed countries in the world (138th of 169 countries in the UN Human Development Report 2010 which was released yesterday). Though the same report shows our enormous progress: A child born today in Nepal can expect to live 25 years longer than a child born in 1970. A fact that truly mobilises us to campaign further and change more lives.”
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
We were invited to the launch of the ONE version of the campaign in London last night, and attended alongside friends from the non-profit/NGO community, as well as business leaders, ministers from the UK government and celebrities such as Bono and Thandie Newton.
Living Proof aims to show the world that when aid is smart and well targeted, it works.
Bill and Melinda talked about the need to celebrate the successes achieved through international aid. In tough economic times, aid has come under much scrutiny (rightfully so, we need to make sure aid is as effective and well targeted as possible) but also has suffered in its public image with many sceptics questioning whether aid is lost to corrupt forces and whether it can actually help break cycles of poverty.
Both Bill and Melinda spoke of the virtuous cycle that could be achieved with smart aid. Healthy children lead to productive workforces, and so on. They spoke also of the amazing returns investment in aid can bring - from child deaths of 10.5 million a year in 2005, in 2009 8.1 million children died - a reduction of 2.4 million.
Melinda also highlighted vaccine programmes as part of the answer, and told us about aid investments made in the rotavirus vaccine which is helping in the fight against child deaths from diarrhoea. In Nicaragua the vaccine has nearly totally wiped out rotavirus in poor communities.
Photo: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Aid of course is not the whole solution - but with such dramatic results the world, Melinda argued, would be foolish to ignore it as an amazing and impressive tool in the fight against poverty.
It's also clear that as a campaigning group demanding smart aid from governments, we need to do better in showing the positive results of aid to water and sanitation, as there are so many! We'll get started on this work, and keep you posted on how we're getting on.
Friday, 15 October 2010
Wow! What an exciting and inspiring day it’s been – with bloggers around the world ensuring that the debate around the water and sanitation crisis is given a really high profile with an amazing Blog Action Day! This day of action has meant lots of different audiences are given the chance to join in a global conversation about the need to End Water Poverty.
There are simply too many to mention them all, but a quick round up of some of the posts from today….
The UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell joined in a day of blogging on the DFID Blog, posting about the need to raise the profile of water and sanitation issues, particularly through Sanitation and Water for All initiative (SWA).
The UK Foreign Office posting a number of blogs throughout the day, and the British Medical Journal posted on the need to provide extra funding for sanitation if we want to see the Millennium Development Goals achieved. The Freshwater Action Network (FAN) blogged on recent developments on the right to water and sanitation, and called people in the UK to action.
And even more happened worldwide: End Water Poverty members around the globe got involved, check out Tearfund, WaterAid, Ryan's Well, Water.org, CARE, Oxfam, Action Against Hunger for starters. And even the US State Department joined in!
One of the great outcomes of the day was reaching a wide range of different audiences, hopefully sparking some discussion of water and poverty issues outside of NGOs already engaged in campaigning on these issues.
Thanks so much to everyone that’s got involved today both posting at spreading the message on twitter, (#BAD2010 and #BAD10) it’s been great and we look forward to reading every single one of the posts!
And if you posted on the day, do let us know so we get the chance to read it!
The World Walks for Water is a campaign launched to press governments to take crucial action needed to end the water and sanitation crisis.
This crisis sees women walk 40 billion hours per year carrying water weighing 18 kg which is still not safe to drink. It causes death, disease, missed educations and missed lives.
Last year our big campaign moment was the World's Longest Toilet Queue which saw 100,000 people involved in an amazing 80 countries. They made a stand ahead of a key meeting in Washington DC of developing and developed country governments who made commitments to make a difference. Like the effort of Burkina Faso's government which announced no new home in the country would be built without a toilet from then on.
But there is more to do. The World Walks for Water will mobilise more people in more countries and send a clear message to governments ahead of two crucial meetings in Africa and South Asia where politicians those regions and from rich countries will make firm commitments following on from Washington DC.
How can you get involved?
We've made it as easy as possible.
We want to stand in solidarity with the women and children forced to walk such long distances and hours just to find water. So we're asking you to either organise, or join, a 6 km walk on World Water Day 2011, from 19-22 March 2011.
Register your walk on the website, (which is just in beta version for a week as we want your feedback! You'll be able to register and find walks in a couple of weeks).
And then have fun! We want you to use your walks to make noise and get attention. So dress up, invite the media, do something outrageous and above all - make it political.
Making it political
This means contributing to the global pressure we'll place on governments to deliver water and sanitation to the poorest in the world.
And you can do it in so many ways - invite your local politician, even your prime minister or President to walk with you. Invite the media and tell them about the crisis. Get all the people who walk with you to sign a petition and send it through to us. Gather a photo petition!
Everyone is welcome
We want this to be a truly global action. With walks springing up in London, Delhi, Kampala, Cape Town, Nairobi, Singapore and Washington DC we can truly make a global stand.
For more information, do take a look at the website or contact Serena O'Sullivan.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
With diarrhoea killing more children every year than AIDS, malaria and TB (UN), and recently being named as the biggest killer of children under five in Africa (WHO), the world simply cannot stand by and allow this horrifying situation continue.
Water insecurity has multiple effects: having to walk long distances to fetch clean water keeps children out of school and stops women being able to take part in employment, while waterborne diseases and illnesses caused by poor hygiene place huge burdens on overstretched health systems – half of hospital beds in Africa are taken by diarrhoeal patients.
Clara, a midwife from Zambia, talks about the struggles faced by pregnant women and child patients, “It’s very sad these women have to drink dirty water, because it causes infections and complications for the baby. In the children’s ward, we see lots of diarrhoea. The mothers say it is due to poor water and sanitation. They draw their water from shallow wells, some from the small rivers, from the streams”.
So, how are we working to end the crisis? As a campaign coalition, we call for governments to get clean water and safe sanitation to their citizens.
One way to catalyse this process is the recently formed Sanitation and Water for All initiative (SWA) - a global partnership between donors, developing countries, multilaterals and civil society bodies.
The SWA aims to link up aid with developing country plans that to ensure that people get access to these most basic services. Our website has more information.
It’s a major achievement of the End Water Poverty campaign that the SWA has been established, but we still need to push world leaders to act with urgency and move forward with is process to make it truly effective and far reaching.
We all have a part to play – you included!
End Water Poverty is focused on supporting our members working worldwide to keep on lobbying their national leaders, which contributes to strong international action against the crisis. If you’re a non-profit organisation, think about joining us.
Individuals also can take part. Sign our pledge, join us on facebook, follow us on twitter and take part in campaign actions.
To coincide with Blog Action Day, we are launching ‘The World Walks for Water’, an exciting new campaign for World Water Day 2011.
It will be a global event where thousands of people will take part in 6km walks to demand that global leaders ensure real change, keeping promises made in previous years and working towards clean water and sanitation for all.
You can organise a walk, join a planned walk, or find out more about the campaign at www.worldwalksforwater.org. We look forward to having you involved!
We also encourage you to take part in Blog Action Day – it’s not too late. Register your blog and write about the water crisis. We need to get the word out there that 4000 children are dying needlessly every day – and let me tell you, words matter.
Words matter because they can spread far and wide. They can reach the minds of great thinkers who can help find solutions to end the crisis. To people in power who have the resources to end the crisis. And to people everywhere who can stand up to their governments and demand their action.
This has been a silent crisis to date, and Blog Action Day is helping us to create and share the words and demands to end it. Join us!
Friday, 8 October 2010
Water supply and sanitation for Palestinians are constantly deteriorating. Israel controls the aquifers supplying the region, and the assault on the Gaza Strip entitled ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2009 / 09 devastated infrastructure, including vital water treatment plants, forcing Gazans to survive on contaminated water. Nearly 93% of the available water in the Gaza Strip does not meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, and the annual average water consumption in Palestine is around 50% of recommended minimum standards.
Dependence on polluted water carries obvious health risks, and nearly a third of Palestinians are not connected to water networks at all. Furthermore, the price of water supplied by private tankers has rocketed in the region, leaving many destitute families forced to choose between water and food.
Four speakers will give presentations on their work on these issues:
Lord Hylton travelled to Gaza in August and observed the water crisis there first hand. He will talk about his experiences.
Deborah Hyams: Campaigner on Israel / OPT / PA, Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Deborah will present the AI report ‘Troubled Waters - Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water’, and talk about the organisation’s campaign on the right to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Dr Sandra Mutuma: Senior Nutrition Advisor, Action Against Hunger
Recognised as a leader in the fight against acute malnutrition, Action Against Hunger works in over 40 countries worldwide in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster, and chronic food insecurity, benefiting five million people each year. Sandra will talk about the relationship between water and malnutrition.
Ibrahim Hewitt: Chairman, Interpal
Interpal is a British charity working to provide aid and relief to Palestinians. A member of the End Water Poverty group, its projects include the supply of fresh, clean water to residents of the Gaza Strip. Ibrahim visited the projects in August.
Everyone is welcome at this event, which promises to be interesting and a great networking opportunity. If you’d like to attend the meeting, please register with:
0207 630 9778
Thursday, 7 October 2010
This year the topic chosen is …… Water!
This is a great opportunity to start a really global conversation on water, by ensuring that on the 15th October people around the world are discussing the how the sanitation and water crisis affects billions of vulnerable people.
With over 13,000 people taking part in last year’s Blog Action Day, from 152 countries, we are hoping to make this year even bigger.
How to get involved?
People will be blogging on the 15th on a huge variety of topics that relate to water, but we want to ensure that the real links between water and poverty are discussed.
We want to emphasise how a lack of water can perpetuate poverty, limiting any other attempts at progress in poverty reduction.
Please help by dedicating your blog to highlighting the links between water, sanitation and poverty. We’ve included a few key messages / ideas below for inspiration!
World Water Day campaign launch
We'll also be using Blog Action Day to launch the website and materials for The World Walks for Water, our global campaign for World Water Day 2011. So please mention the campaign and urge your readers to get involved.
Key messages to highlight in your blog:
- Water poverty affecting health systems
- Impact on children
- Developing economies and water poverty.
- The MDGs summit and international action on water and sanitation.
See our website for more information and links to other great sources of information.
The twitter hashtag for the day will be #BAD2010
To sure you join in this important global discussion register today and get ready to take blog action!
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Seventy advocates from across the region are attending, and it’s been great to meet face-to-face with some of our members for the first time!
The opening session saw a bit of a media frenzy with the Minister for Water and Irrigation providing the keynote speech and reiterating his support for CSO action in the struggle for sanitation and water for all. He highlighted the importance of women from communities being involved in dialogues and progress.
Equity and inclusion is a massive challenge to the sector. Laura Hucks from WaterAid Tanzania shared the statistic that only 1% of latrines in schools in Tanzania are accessible to those with physical disabilities. Rather than a deliberate approach, this was an oversight by planners, and shows that equity and inclusion strategies need to be at the heart of any implementation programs.
We’ll be learning lots and will integrate the learning into our campaign plans going forward including our soon-to-be-announced World Water Day campaign – so stay tuned!
Monday, 27 September 2010
The Summit was an extravaganza, with NGOs calling for attention to their causes, presidents whirling around town to various meetings and End Water Poverty and its members making a noise about the sanitation crisis – in very creative ways!
Gladly, after the Summit, we were privileged to attend the Global Assembly of the Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) - the network of campaigners working tirelessly against inequality across the world, and famous for their first campaign action, Make Poverty History, in 2005.
The Global Assembly takes places every few years and gives campaigners a chance to look at, and learn from, past campaigns and an opportunity to intensely plan joint global campaigns and strategies for the coming years.
It’s an exciting and passionate bunch of 140 people from everywhere – I had conversations with people from Bolivia, Italy, Canada, Senegal, India, Nicaragua, Portugal and many more. Some are from international mega NGOs, some from human rights organisations, and others from grassroots campaigns. And they work on a huge array of issues – gender, land rights, health, education, climate change, corruption – and with a variety of foci - the G8, G20, G77, the World Social Forum, MDG processes, COP 16 - so the challenge was how to ensure space for all these campaign issues in a very busy calendar.
Attending was useful for me because as a coalition working on water and sanitation, it’s really important that we’re engaging with development campaigns both within our sector (WASH United, Dig Toilets Not Graves) but also outside so that we can ensure as many voices are calling for Sanitation and Water for All. And furthermore, so that we’re supporting other development initiatives because working together can ensure all the MDGs are met, and not just the MDG issues that have the loudest voices or the most sparkly superstars backing them.
So the Global Assembly is not only a chance to find ways of working together and link our campaign planning, it’s also an opportunity to learn from this broad network and share best practice. And being in a room with such enthusiastic and impassioned people can’t help but reinvigorate after a busy and sleep-rare week!
But now to feast on airline food (now a not so secret love of mine!) and we’ll keep you updated here on how we begin to work with GCAP in the months and years ahead.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
As the sun sets on the MDG Summit, it’s a little early to be able to analyse in full what’s taken place over the last few days. But it’s been a significant day. In addition to the event on water and sanitation (see previous post), two key documents were released today – the official negotiated ‘outcome document’, and the new Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
There have been a few positives to draw out, and some disappointments – all to come in a future post - but I wanted to quickly share a thought on the dividing power of language. I don’t mean divisions between the 6000+ languages in the world, but the division between those who write political declarations, and those who read them. Take pity on the UN translators.
Take “action-oriented” – the term for what the official ‘outcome document’ of this Summit, agreed by all nations, was supposed to have been. It’s a reasonable document in many ways, and includes some positive language on integrating water and sanitation interventions in efforts to promote health, education and nutrition. Genuine successes all of them. But have a read of the 31 pages (I dare you), and you won’t find an enormous amount of action to follow it up.
Take “integrated care” – the term used in the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to promote an approach to health that includes all the things that stop you being sick, as well as those that cure you. Such as nutrition, water and sanitation. Great stuff, and exactly what we’re calling for. But read the big list of commitments, and you won’t much funding for these bits, as good as many of the other items are. It’s hard right now to drill down on the details, but in a 29 page document the word ‘water’ is used 3 times, the word ‘sanitation’ twice. Not a particularly scientific method of investigation, but also not a lot for an issue responsible for 28% of child deaths in a strategy focused on ending exactly that.
Then just try and (as they say in films) follow the money. The headline is that $40 billion has been committed over the next five years to promote women’s and children’s health. Yet we face the usual question – is this new and additional money, or is it just a sum total of what everyone is already doing? Is it a genuine change of behaviour, or a different way of counting the same thing? Will it save more lives, or is it business as usual? Unless aid budgets are set to rise – of which we have seen no indication (often the opposite) – this would simply be robbing Peter to pay Paul. A particularly cruel trade-off when it involves the world’s poorest people.
I want to be positive about this Global Strategy, and work to sure it is fully implemented and funded. It is a genuine achievement to get actors to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable and focus political attention on women and children. If implemented the potential is enormous, and the prize is huge -– 16 million lives saved by 2015, 33 million unwanted pregnancies prevented, 120 million children protected from pneumonia, and 88 million from stunting.
But if someone could do a translation and a few calculations for me, it would be most welcome. And translating the strong statements we heard at the event on water and sanitation this morning into stronger action on building toilets and water sources would be great too.
Fuller analysis in the next few days, but until then visit the official website for all announcements.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
The Dutch Prince of Orange, one of the moderators, used the occasion to express his support to the “5 year drive for sanitation” that has just been launched to address the enormous backlog in reaching the sanitation target of MDG7. His co-moderator Ambassador Jan Eliasson commented it should be a ‘5 year drive for toilet’ which in fact is a ‘5 year drive for dignity’. Several speakers supported the initiative.
Much emphasis was put on the importance national governments making true commitments to prioritise water and sanitation in their own budgets. Minister Buyelwa Patience Sonjica, Chair of AMCOW, pointed out that developing countries should invest their own resources, reducing dependence on foreign aid.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia clearly expressed this commitment. She remarked that the water and sanitation sector tends to be ‘under discussed and under prioritized’, calling it ‘the orphan MDG’. She expressed concern about ‘the fact that 80% of countries in Sub-Sahara Africa are off track on sanitation’ adding that this problem ‘keeps children out of school and women out of productive activities’.
President Johnson Sirleaf and several other speakers, including Dutch Prime-Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and the German Secretary of State, expressed their support to the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) initiative that aims at increasing coordination, financial resources and accountability in the sector. Balkenende called on other state and non-state actors to join the initiative.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah commented on the issue of sustainability of basic infrastructure and gave a personal backing for sanitation as he recounted making the case for water and toilets in his meeting with President Obama after the Haiti earthquake.
Finally, UNICEF Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake, shared his emotional experience in Pakistan during the recent floods, when he observed that ‘people’s fear for diarrhea and cholera were real and with good reason, as water and sanitation are a matter of life and death’. He remarked that if all the children that die today in one day of diarrhea were all together in one place, the world would pay more attention’. Diarrhea is a continuous silent disaster."
Day 3 of the MDG summit is about to begin, with the three big things coming up. First is a leaders meeting on water and sanitation this morning – more on that later in the day. Second is the launch of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health, and finally there is President Obama’s speech. It’s a day when we’ll see a blizzard of various announcements and maybe even some $ signs, but it might be wise to hold the excitement for now...
The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health is one of the most significant and high-profile initiatives of the Summit. It seeks to bring all actors together to invest more, and better, in preventing the deaths of the 8 million children who die every year from preventable causes, and the 350,000 mothers who die needlessly in childbirth.
It’s a much-needed Strategy, but (and for some reason there is always a ‘but’ when it comes to these things) there is a real risk that it remains just that – a strategy without a plan, or a plan without any action.
The Global Strategy is right both in pushing the issue of women's and children’s health higher up the political agenda. And it is smart in the way that it approaches health comprehensively, to include oft-forgotten elements like good nutrition, clean water and basic sanitation as key ways to stop women and children getting sick in the first place. This is the message we’ve been pushing all year, so it’s good to see it picked up. If realised, it could really make a difference.
But it will require countries to step up and deliver it – the Strategy admits there will be $26 billion funding gap in 2011 to meet the health MDG targets in the poorest 49 countries. Unless that is closed, including extra funding for sanitation and water, the Strategy may be near meaningless.
There may be funding announced later, but we’ll have to wait and see if it is genuine and new.
One cautionary tale I picked up from an event I attended yesterday was this. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin launched an encouraging new strategy on tackling malnutrition in the ‘1000 days’ from conception to a child’s second birthday. Support for the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition Framework’ is hugely welcome, and could help to promote a broad approach to tackling undernutrition that includes elements like water and sanitation (diarrhoea is responsible for 50% of deaths from malnutrition).
But (again...) of course nutrition isn’t free, and the only financial promise I could detect was that Ireland was to increase the percentage of its aid budget devoted to tackling malnutrition from 6% to 20%. Cue applause in the room. I even caught myself clapping, then wondered why my hands were involuntarily hitting each other. Ireland has cut its overall aid budget this year by 25%. Increasing focus on one area while cutting the overall budget must mean they are slashing support for other items. In my own personal view, I’m not sure doing more to prevent children dying from malnutrition at the expense of doing less to prevent them dying from other things should necessarily be worthy of our applause.
More to come this evening on the day’s announcements, and on the water and sanitation event. Maybe there will be big surprises, and I really hope I'm needlessly being a cynic, but just beware of false promises – people’s livelihoods rely on them.Read all yesterday’s official speeches here
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
We're thrilled to have been invited by the UN Foundation to take part in the UN Week Digital Media Lounge. It's an event taking place all week with hundreds of bloggers and media gathered to learn more about the MDGs and new innovations in the fight against poverty.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Summit kicks off as Africa’s first female leader calls for action on “one of the greatest untold development challenges”
The MDG summit kicks off today, following a strong appeal from Africa’s first female Head of State, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, to finally tackle what she described as “the orphaned MDG”, and “one of the greatest untold development challenges facing the international community”. The article appeared in the International Herald and Tribune, and the New York Times.
The intervention from President Sirleaf Johnson has been widely welcomed by campaigners trying to bring attention the to the fact that over 40% of the world’s population do not have access to safe sanitation. It’s a deadly, dirty secret that is at the heart of why we are not making fast enough progress in reducing poverty and disease.
Today’s agenda will include lots of speeches from Heads of States, as well as “round table discussions” on hunger, gender equality, health and education. (All speeches will be available online here, though it is not confirmed whether the round tables will in fact have any tables, be round, or have genuine discussions. Time will tell.)
We’ll be analysing the speeches to see if anything new is promised, and if the links between all these issues and water and sanitation is made. It would be baffling if not – the sanitation and water crisis hits women and girls hardest, costs 443 million lost school days every year, is responsible for 50% of deaths by malnutrition, and overall costs the lives of 2.2 million children each year.
Let’s hope they also listen to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who used his opening speech to world leaders to call for action for "the girl weighed down with wood or water when instead she should be in school."See Monday’s press release here.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Another year, another summit. Or so it feels. But the one kicking off this week in New York – the UN High-Level Plenary on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – marks ten years since the advent of one of the greatest promises ever made.
That promise, made by over 180 Heads of State in the Millennium Declaration, was to halve extreme poverty by 2015, and to set a series of targets including cutting by two-thirds the number of child deaths, and reducing by half the proportion of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation.
That promise has galvanised action and delivered life-saving progress, but ultimately has not been kept. The number of people suffering hunger, for example, is actually growing as a result of the global food crisis, while the target on access to sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa is so off-track it will not be met on current trends until the 23rd Century.
Hence another summit. Heads of State are reconvening to look at what has been achieved since their first declaration, and what needs to be done with just five years left.
Sceptics predict more hot air and pieces of paper that will mean nothing to someone lacking a clean water source. And overall, they might be right. A lot of summits come and go with warm words and empty hands.
But by dragging leaders, occasionally kicking and screaming, to take notice of this issue, and by shining a light on the dishonour a number have shown to the world’s poorest communities, we’re at least provided a platform to hold them to account and give their consciences a nudge.
And for those wiser leaders taking it more seriously, it’s a platform to shine, to make commitments they may actually keep, and to show to the world that with the right will, and the right policies, poverty can be defeated.
All sort of things will be happening this week, and you can follow updates on this blog every day – both about the formal happenings in the UN Headquarters, and the weird and wonderful things happening around it.
Friday, 10 September 2010
With the MDG Summit in New York fast approaching, there is no better time to highlight the progress that still needs to be made to reduce global poverty. NGOs and researches continue to emphasise the need to take an integrated approach to the goals – universal child education cannot be achieved without toilets and sanitation in schools, and enabling women to work instead of walking 6km to collect water puts them on a more equal footing with men in their communities.
In advance of the MDG summit, End Water Poverty co-authored a paper with Action for Global Health, Action Contre La Faim and WaterAid, 'Breaking Barriers: working together to achieve a healthy hunger-free world’. It calls for a well-financed and accountable Global Action Plan for all the MDGs, and for Heads of State to enhance integrated and holistic approaches at a national and global level to achieve key development outcomes, including sanitation and water.
Photo credit: Water Aid / Layton Thompson
Recent research conducted in communities in the Pacific has shown the positive effects of integrating gender issues with water and sanitation projects. Gender equality and access to sanitation and water for all are crucial in the elimination of poverty. Whilst both sectors are very diverse, one of the uniting themes is the adverse effect poor access to water and sanitation has upon the lives of women. Working with local NGO projects, the researchers spoke to women and men in communities in Vanuatu and Fiji, and based their conclusions on what women and men said about the water and sanitation initiatives. They talked about how women’s lives are improved practically by providing water and sanitation infrastructure, and at how deliberately including women in the planning and discussion of projects increases the respect they receive in local communities.
Photo Credit: Water Aid / Eva Lotta-Jannson
The paper, Addressing Two Critical MDGs together: gender in water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives, was written by academics from the Institute for Sustainable Futures in Sydney and the International Women’s Development Agency in Melbourne, and comes to two key conclusions:
1. Including women in planning and discussion of water and sanitation projects has a positive impact upon gender equality in those communities:
• The burden of collecting water usually falls on women, so improving access to safe water means a reduction in physical labour and satisfies women’s need to provide safe water and sanitation to their families.
• Women and men reported a reduction in violent household disputes over water management following the improvement of infrastructure.
• Men took on an increased role in hygiene in the home to support their wives – this also improved communication between men and women.
• Women were able to take on leadership roles and participate in community decisions for the first time. This improved their confidence and they felt more valued and respected by men in their community.
• Women’s efforts to promote sanitation and health were recognised by men, giving women a louder voice in their community.
2. As women tend to be are responsible for collecting water and for practical sanitation issues in a family, including women in the planning of water and sanitation infrastructure means the projects are usually better designed and planned. Projects then become more useful to the community.
Ultimately, the report highlights how designing water and sanitation projects to also address gender inequality has significant positive effects, fundamentally enhancing women’s dignity and empowering them to become leaders in their communities.
Let’s hope that leaders hear this message loud and clear at the MDG summit next week.
See here for information on End Water Poverty’s work at the MDG Summit in New York
In 2011, we will mark World Water Day with the global action, The World Walks For Water – thousands of people across the world will walk 6km to put pressure on governments to keep their promises to realise the rights to access to water and sanitation. See here for how to join the campaign and find out more information.
Friday, 6 August 2010
End Water Poverty
With just a few weeks left before the MDG summit in New York, Coalition Eau have published a report that highlights how water and sanitation aid needs to be structured in ways that truly benefit the poorest.
In an analysis of France’s 2003 commitment to double its Official Development Assistance (ODA), Coalition Eau found that the French government had met their promise, but only by sharply increasing the number of loans rather than grants. Indeed the total sum of grants fell to €15m in 2009, down from €66m in 2008. France has set itself apart from European partners in this respect; in 2007 Germany provided 66% of its aid in the form of grants, whilst the UK provided 100% grants.
Photo: WaterAid, Olivia Arthur
So what’s the problem with loans instead of grants? Loans are much less accessible to countries with low borrowing capacities (usually poorer countries), and they favour projects that need considerable investment, i.e. urban treatment plants rather than rural water supply. Loans as aid is inclined towards middle-income countries, who are economically able to support loans, and offer France a better chance of getting back the money (partly because richer countries can charge for water consumption).
In 2003 France committed to targeting rural and poor urban areas, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, and acknowledged that need for safe water and sanitation is greatest there. However, by prioritising loans over grants they have overlooked the needs of this region. Indeed, the main recipient of French water and sanitation aid in 2007 was the Middle East and North Africa region, whilst aid to support basic water and sanitation access dropped by 70% to €12m. In short, those in most need of basic water and sanitation are being denied access to French aid.
- An increase in French bilateral aid for water and sanitation to €100m in the form of grants
- As indicated by the OECD amongst others, France should better target those countries in greatest need, and make Sub-Saharan Africa a real priority.
- Target the poorest countries by focusing on Least Developed Countries, and increasing sums allocated to rural populations.
See here for more information about Coalition Eau and the report, "Changes in French Official Development Assistance for water supply and sanitation from 2001 to 2007 and the outlook to 2012".
Friday, 30 July 2010
End Water Poverty
As previously blogged, this week saw the UN General Assembly vote in New York on the right to clean and safe water and sanitation. We have gathered some analysis of the vote to share what was said, and what this means for organisations around the world campaigning for water and sanitation, as well as next steps.
In the vote on 28th July, 122 countries voted yes to the resolution, and 41 abstained. The majority of yes votes were from developing countries, although there were some European exceptions such as Germany. Broadly, West African and South Asian countries voted in favour, with East Africa and Southern Africa abstaining or absent. See here for detail
The resolution to recognise the right to clean and safe water and sanitation is non-binding, but does call on countries to offer greater financial investment and technology to increase access to clean water and sanitation for everyone. Positively, it refers to the ongoing work of the Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, who will lay out the legal and political process to claim the right to water and the separate right to sanitation.
What does this development actually mean for organisations working for water and sanitation or for those working on rights-based approaches to development? Things won’t improve overnight, but the vote does push us another step along the road to establishing water and sanitation as distinct human rights. Those organisations working in countries that supported the resolution have another strong advocacy tool, and should hopefully be able to use their government’s support for rights to water and sanitation to lobby and deliver more results on the ground. There is some hope that this latest resolution will further strengthen the focus on water and sanitation at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York in September.
For now, we can look forward to the report by the Independent Expert. As well as writing on the right to water, Catarina reported in 2009 that there are “clear human rights obligations related to sanitation because it is inextricably linked to, and indispensable for, the realization of many other human rights”. The report to the Human Rights Council in 2011 should lay out countries' obligations related to water and sanitation development work, and hopefully lead to all countries affirming the right to water and sanitation.
2 August 2010
Simavi have also blogged about the vote, and what it means for the right to water and sanitation.
United Nations recognises right to safe water and sanitation as a human right - a welcome political signal but without real clout
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Maude Barlow, in a letter to UN missions, 6 July 2010
Former Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly
On 28th July 2010, the United Nations will consider a resolution tabled by Bolivia, supported by 33 other members, that declares the human right to access water and sanitation. It finds precedence in earlier declarations, but this will be the first stand-alone expression of the right to water.
For some, it will come as no surprise that the author of the resolution was Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solon, following Bolivia’s civil battles over water privatisation.
Declaring access to water and sanitation as a human right will bring significant challenges; can we agree a universal minimum water requirement or on a level of water quality, and will the cost of water investment threaten the affordability of water? Equally, there is some concern that the importance of access to sanitation will be lost in the sexier debate surrounding water. The threat of regression on commitments to sanitation is very real.
The UN vote could go one of several ways. Advocates of a rights-based approach to development will celebrate the discussion, and if it passes, those working in water and sanitation will welcome a crucial step towards establishing universal access.
A range of civil society organisations coordinated by Blue Planet Project are lobbying to support the decision.
End Water Poverty
UPDATE: Voting has taken place, with 124 in favor, 0 against and 42 abstaining. More information soon on the relevance to the fight against the sanitation and water crisis.
Monday, 26 July 2010
World leaders are gathering to talk again, with the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Union taking place in Uganda for the past week.
The Summit has been focusing down on two particular MDGs – child health and maternal mortality – two areas of development that have been woefully lagging behind others. And civil society has been present to pressure for action, not just words.
WaterAid and the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) have been lobbying at the Summit, to highlight the devastating impact poor water and sanitation has on infant health, and pushing for former commitments made in Sharm el Sheik and eThekwini to be met.
The situation, after all, is dire and urgent. Diarrhoea is now the biggest killer of children under five on the African continent. A staggering 90% of these deaths could be prevented by access to safe sanitation, water and hygiene.
World leaders must also recognize the interconnected nature of tackling the MDGs. And even if the water and sanitation MDG sector is the most off-track, it needs to be approached in a holistic way alongside other lagging sectors. (Read our policy briefing on this).
Decisions made by Heads of State at the AU Summit will have significant influence on the outcomes of the discussions held during the MDG+10 Summit later in September 2010.
Staff at WaterAid are blogging from the Summit - click here to see the latest pictures and read updates.
You can also download WaterAid’s two page AU Summit document here.
This exciting partnership brings together governments, UN agencies and civil society organisations from all over the world to try and mobilise the political will and resources needed drive progress towards achieving sanitation and water for all.
As it goes forward, End Water Poverty has a crucial role to play at the heart of the partnership to make it deliver for communities denied their rights to these most basic services. As well as campaigning, it includes facilitating the input of civil society organisations into the committee that governs the group’s activities.
Currently we are running a process to nominate six representatives – 2 from Africa, 2 from Asia and 2 from donor countries – to sit on the steering committee (three of these will be ‘alternates’ or ‘reserves’).
There is one week left to put yourself forward – the deadline is 2nd August – so if you are interested in playing a leading role, and you have the time and experience needed, do consider doing so. You’ll attend six meetings a year (four by teleconference) with key players in the sector, and will be expected to feedback to and consult the broader network to represent views of the whole constituency. You can read a brief on how civil society can get involved, and a role description of a representative here.
There are processes running in Africa (coordinated by ANEW), Asia (coordinated by FANSA) and in donor countries (coordinated through a sub-set of End Water Poverty members). If you are interested then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.