Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Africa Water Week 3

Fleur Anderson
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.

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