Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Proud but not satisfied: what’s been achieved, and what’s left to fight for

Steve Cockburn
International Campaign Coordinator
End Water Poverty

Just over a week on from the High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water, and with the ‘Chair’s Summary’ now providing the official outcomes of the meeting, we can reflect on a job well done, but also much more left to do.

Over the last three years, over one million of you have campaigned in support of a new global process to achieve sanitation and water for all. And we got it, with the new ‘Sanitation and Water for All’ initiative launched by 32 countries, and numerous UN agencies and civil society organisations.

Furthermore, just over a month ago, over 100,000 of you in 80 countries stood up together as part of the World’s Longest Toilet Queue to demand action in the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water. They heard us, and took a vital step forward, but it's a step that starts our journey.

There are significant achievements to highlight. Bringing finance ministers and water ministers from over 20 developing countries together with all the major donors – and getting commitment to action from both – is no small feat. Nor is a collective agreement to improve the way finances are targeted towards low-income countries and poor communities, and to mobilise additional efforts to develop and coordinate effective national water and sanitation plans.

There is now a solid process by which Governments can work together, and a process by which we can hold them accountable.

But processes themselves don’t ensure people’s rights to clean water and a safe toilet, nor prevent the deaths of children, nor keep girls in school. That will require more finance, better used, and genuine leadership.

On this we have much further to go. We did see commitments from a number of developing countries to spend more – Bangladesh, for example, committed an extra $200m over the next 5 years – but no rich country put more money on the table. That will have to change.

We also saw Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Water representing developing countries – and working together in a new way that will boost domestic investment – but only one Minister of a donor country. That will have to change too.

If you compare the Chair’s Summary to our joint manifesto, you can see that what is most lacking are the numbers - the deadlines and the dollar signs that we need to really drive progress. There is an explicit promise to develop these following the meeting, so we must make sure this happens.

So that is our next challenge, and why we need to keep campaigning to ensure that words are turned into water. That means getting this progress recognised by the G8 at their Summit in June, ensuring world leaders prioritise sanitation at the UN High-Level Plenary on the MDGs in September, and ultimately making sure individual governments step and deliver what they promised.

We’ll be sharing our campaign plans soon, but it’s worth reflecting on just how important the campaigning to date has been. It has put the issue on the agenda, it has given civil society organisations a strong voice at the table, it has pushed individual governments to act, and it has provided us with a very strong platform to go forward. This would not have happened without you.

Perhaps a simple, clear example is a statement made by the Ghanaian Minister of Finance. Campaign groups had been very active in Ghana, undertaking impressive campaign, media and lobby work that led to a national ‘compact’ outlining what they would do. Quite simply he said: “We spent $85m to fight malaria, but neglected sanitation. We will now put more money into sanitation”.

Some links to other documents:

· Chair’s Summary
· Individual country statements (scroll down)
· Our press reaction
· The GLAAS Report

1 comment:

deborah said...

Hi Steve,
I was pretty ignorant about sanitation until a few days ago - but wow - what a massive problem...
You probably know that WaterAid has partnered with Youtube and Cannes Lions in encouraging young people around the world to make ads to start people talking about sanitation.
Here's the ad that I made.
It involves me eating shit - literally - and seriously was the most confronting thing I've ever done.
I'd love to know what you think.
If you like it, please forward on to as many people as you can.