Friday, 26 February 2010

Who can solve the water and sanitation crisis? Governments, NGOs or both?

Steve Cockburn
International Campaign Coordinator
End Water Poverty

In a blog post just brought to our attention through twitter, Water 1st ask an important question in response to ONE. Water 1st cites many of the weaknesses of the way the USA (like other countries) targets its foreign assistance - don't we need to demonstrate improvement before increasing aid?

To me, the answer is mixed and points to what we’re trying to promote with our campaign for both more and better aid, as well as mutual accountability from both developed and developing countries.

Achieving sanitation and water for all needs effective and accountable governments working with, and being held accountable by, strong civil society organizations and NGOs.

Sanitation and water for all won’t be achieved if rich countries continue to provide just 40% of their aid to low-income countries who need it most, nor if the share of aid to the sector continues to contract, and nor if national governments across Africa and Asia fail to give it the priority it deserves.

In some countries that will mean support to make a country’s sector function effectively – sometimes well targeted aid can remove blockages and bottlenecks - and in others it will mean more money to scale-up systems and programmes that already function well, and just need resources to reach more people.

Aid can work, has worked, and can be made to work better to reach more people. But it’s only part of the equation, of course.

As civil society we have a number of important roles: delivering services (like those expertly provided by Water 1st), campaigning for better practice and political focus, and holding world leaders accountable.

We need to do them all, but governments must play their part too if the 2.5 billion people without sanitation are to be reached.

In April, politicians will meet in Washington to discuss what need’s to be done in the sector. We need them to change and to step up. Read what we think needs to be done, and join the campaign this World Water Day to do it.

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