Sunday, 25 April 2010
Friday, 23 April 2010
We're just coming out of the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water. An historic event, with Ministers of Finance, Water, Environment and Development from 32 countries, plus all the UN agencies, and little old us.
Two cheers for progress, would be my take. A real commitment to establish a new partnership to improve performance in the sector, a new realisation of the need to target resources better towards low-income countries, but a lack of time bound, specific actions from donors to really drive progress. A big step forward, for sure, but just the start of the journey.
A big win for our campaign, but more to do.
More soon, for now read our press statement:
New global partnership offers new hope of action to end global sanitation and water crisis
But lack of donor promises leaves glass half-empty
The global End Water Poverty campaign today welcomed the launch of a new global partnership to accelerate efforts to bring clean water and safe sanitation to millions more people across the globe.
They warned, however, that unless rich countries did more to honour their promises they would be betraying the hopes of 2.6 billion people who currently lack access to safe sanitation.
At the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water held today in Washington DC, Ministers and policy makers from 30 countries agreed a joint statement that included commitments to:
- Work through the new Sanitation and Water for All partnership to increase political prioritisation, resource mobilisation and aid effectiveness.
- Work together to improve targeting of resources to ensure more gets to low-income countries and the poorest communities.
- Set up a new funding mechanism to better support the poorest countries with the weakest capacities to develop national plans.
In addition, some countries made additional individual pledges. Bangladesh committed to spending an extra $200m over the next 5 years, Senegal an extra $24m per year. Many others, such as Ghana, Liberia and Ethiopia, committed to raising domestic budgets to meet regional commitments, such as those in Africa to spend 0.5% of GNI on sanitation.
Yakub Hossain, Convener of Freshwater Action Network Bangladesh said: “We needed countries to get together and raise the bar of ambition, so this is an important first step in providing services that have the potential to prevent 2.2 million child deaths every year.”
Yet in contrast to the commitments made by a number of developing countries, there were few specific targets from donors to increase resources to the poorest countries, despite a strong appeal from African and Asian Water ministers.
Edward Kairu, Chairman of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) added: “People cannot drink promises, so the real test is whether today’s announcements will be translated into action on the ground. We need to put the meat on the bones of this agreement with clear plans and new money. Only then we will really begin to see progress in the form of fewer children dying, more girls in school, and communities able to work themselves out of poverty.”
Earlier in the week a new UN Report showed that only 42% of aid for water and sanitation was going to low-income countries, and that the share of aid to this issue had been in decline, despite it killing more children than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
With announcements on child and maternal health due at this June’s G8, and a major UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September, WaterAid’s Head of Policy, Henry Northover, said it was time to make access on sanitation and water a global priority: “The launch of the Sanitation and Water for All initiative is a chance to move away from worthy expressions of concern to action. We need to see this renewed commitment flow through to services for the poorest of the poor.”
Just a couple of hours away from the High-Level Meeting, we’ve just come out of a packed press conference at the World Bank where an impressive panel of speakers urged ministers this afternoon to deliver action.
Alongside the Prince of Orange (heir to the Dutch throne), the South African Water and Environment Minister, the head of Phnomh Penh Water Authority, and chiefs from the World Bank and USAID, was Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian Finance Minister (the first female Finance Minister and Foreign Minister in Africa) and current Managing Director of the World Bank.
For Ms. Okwela, “water and sanitation deserves the highest priority from all of us”, and for her “is not something I read about, it’s something that is real for me”.
In particular, she spoke of her experience as a child having to walk for miles every day for water, and the difficulty of being a 12-year old responsible – as the oldest in her family – for getting water during the Biafra War: “water was so precious”. She also reflected on how she collapsed shortly after the birth of her first child, having contracted hook-worms – traced back to a village with poor sanitation she had been living four years earlier.
She called for more money and more leadership to tackle the issue. “Everyone has to work together. It’s about life. Water and sanitation strikes at every single part of the fight against poverty”.
Of course we need more than words. If panel discussions ended poverty, we’d be a very prosperous world. But we are seeing some momentum that feels a little new.
Our campaign also received a boost with agreement of a statement from African and Asian Water Ministers that supports a number of the elements of our international manifesto – more financing to achieve the goal of fully funded national and water sanitation plans, improvements in targeting of resources to reach the poorest people and countries, and a new fund to support countries who lack the capacity to develop their own planning systems.
There’s much these Ministers need to do to implement their own commitments, and there’s much the donors need to do to respond.
The Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Meeting takes place in Washington DC today, and to mark the occasion, we've given President Obama's front lawn a little makeover.
The photo, released by End Water Poverty and WaterAid, shows how Washington DC could look if the city didn't enjoy sanitation and water for all - a reality faced by 2.6 billion around the world. It's already featured in major news outlets, but we want you to help us get as many people to see it.
You can do this by:
- changing your profile picture to this image on facebook (loads of people already have!) with the link below ,
- or you could tweet about it, (try "White House / African makeover? Wonder what @BarackObama would think...? http://bit.ly/9NKb5X).
- post the link up on facebook
- email your local paper's news desk with the link to the news story.
Programme Manager, Advocacy and Communications
In Washington today, Ministers from around the world described how they had prepared for their countries' participation in tomorrow's Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting.
I sat in on a group from french-speaking countries, including Burkina Faso and Senegal. The World's Longest Toilet Queue got a special mention - the tremendous participation in the queue in Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, had made a big impact on those in government, and really showed how strongly people in the country feel about this issue. This led us to a discussion of the importance of involving EVERYONE in discussions about sanitation - because everyone is involved, from the national governments right down to the household level. One of the "added values" from this high level meeting was judged to be the fact that it had created a dialogue between ministers responsible for Sanitation, Water and Hygiene and their colleagues down the hall - the Ministers of Finance.
Tomorrow's meeting will look at what each country plans to do to address these problems, and how a global framework for action could help in this.
For more information on Sanitation and Water for All, visit www.unwater.org/activities_san4all.html.
Thursday's proceedings in Washington kicked off for real, with Ministers of Water and Sanitation, Environment and Health from over 30 countries across Africa and Asia gathering for an all day meeting to do two things – work out what they can do better to get sanitation and water to their citizens, and agree how they want donor countries to support them too.
We were there, with the Chairman of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), Prof. Edward Kairu, giving an inspiring speech at the start of the day. He urged Ministers to act strongly and speak loudly, representing the issues in our manifesto, the voices from our queues, and the communities lacking basic rights in Africa.
Prof. Kairu added a shock factor with 3 sets of photos:
- Those from the World’s Longest Toilet Queue, demonstrating the breath of demand for action across the world.
- Those from communities in Africa, including a shocking image of people whose livelihood is dependent on cleaning out pit latrines.
- A dramatic mocked up picture of the White House as if it were placed in a festering slum.
There were no lack of calls to action – the World Bank called on water and sanitation to be put centre stage and the Prime Minister of Ghana (via his Water Minister) said “we cannot achieve our vision of a better Ghana without delivering on water & sanitation”. But the star of the show was perhaps the South African Water and Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica who – in response to the civil society presentation – said:
“Action is needed yesterday. We should be ashamed that our people live in such conditions. It’s further evidence of a growing rift between rich and poor. This is a human rights issue.”
She continued later in the meeting when negotiating a common declaration to present to donors and Ministers of Finance tomorrow by supporting all the main tenets of End Water Poverty’s manifesto including:
- More finance from both donors and developing country governments, to fund national sanitation and water plans
- Proper targeting of aid money – ensuring 70% of aid goes to low-income countries (up from just 40% now)
- Ensuring full accountability of commitments – including those of donors.
I wasn’t sure what to expect today, but I’m impressed. Many countries are taking strong steps to tackle poverty in their own countries in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen before. The question is whether we in the north will join them.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
The Guardian: Sanitation for all - but not for another 300 years
Inter Press Service: A North-South Pact to Resolve Water, Sanitation Crisis
Reuters: Water and sanitation will be okay in 2200
Financial Times: Study says the poorest miss out on water aid
Today’s main event was the launch of a new UN Report that showed that aid to water and sanitation was not reaching the poorest of the poor. Just 42% of aid is going to ‘low-income countries’ (the poorest 65), with some perverse outcomes: Jordan receives $500 per year for every person who does not have access to water, while Chad receives only $3.
Another key statistic was that the share of total aid going to water and sanitation has fallen from around 8% of all aid in 1997 to just 5% in 2008.
Clearly global commitments to provide sanitation and water for all – and those to improve child health and girls’ education - will not be met unless these figures are dramatically changed.
Today’s report gave some clear evidence of what needs to be done. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. What was presented as a problem today can also be a solution – change the way we do things and we can scale up efforts and prevent the deaths of 2.2 million children every year.
We are lucky enough to have Yakub (right) with us, a colleague from Freshwater Action Network Bangladesh, to speak at today's press conference. He powerfully explained what failure to respond to this report means in his country. 66,000 children die in Bangladesh from diahrroea every year, and although they have a national plan to achieve universal access to sanitation by 2013, they lack the funds to implement it.
He was also supported others. The World Health Organisation said they wanted donors to increase their support, UNICEF said more needed to be done to build local capacity to deliver, and a representative from the Netherlands called on Hilary Clinton to fund a new piece of legislation currently in the US Congress.
Tomorrow is another day. Ministers of water and sanitation, health and environment from 20 countries in Africa and Asia will meet to agree measures to improve their own performance, and to send a message to the High-Level Meeting the following day about what they feel needs to be done by others. We’ll be present again, with our colleague from Kenya presenting our demands, and will report back soon.
We’re hoping they’ve all had some good bedtime reading.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
This week is the one we’ve been working towards now for months, as this Friday sees the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water at which Ministers and policy makers from 30 countries will gather to discuss measures to address the global sanitation and water crisis.
It will be preceded by a meeting of African and Asian Water and Sanitation Ministers on Thursday, and the launch of a new monitoring tool – the GLAAS Report – on Wednesday. We’ll keep you updated on all of these things.
Over a million people across the world have campaigned up until this moment, including tens of thousands of you as part of the World’s Longest Toilet Queue just a month ago.
We said we’d take your voices to Washington, and here’s how we will:
- We will have civil society representatives from Africa, Asia and Europe speaking at all of the high-level meetings this week – in all of their presentations to Ministers they will highlight your campaigning work.
- Every delegate attending the meeting has received our international manifesto – signed by 120 organisations worldwide – and our toilet queue brochure.
- We will be displaying this fantastic video, these incredible photos, and these great brochures at a press conference on Wednesday
- We’re hosting a reception for all invited Government Ministers and officials on Thursday, where we’ll make sure they receive it all again.
There’s no doubt they know what we want and how many people support us.
This week definitely won’t see the solution to the global fight for access to basic rights, but it will represent an important beginning of a new partnership and a new momentum. We hope to see a real commitment to work better, work together, and to begin to end the neglect of this crucial issue. This week, we will work with your support to make sure it’s as strong as it can be.Thank you for your campaigning and come back to find out what happens!
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
End Water Poverty
International campaign coordinator Steve Cockburn's daily blog, live from the world's first High-Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation in Washington DC. Where we'll be taking actions from campaigns such as The World's Longest Toilet Queue to the people who can make a difference...
Welcome to the End Water Poverty blog, coming straight from a crucial meeting for water and sanitation in Washington DC.
The meeting is this Friday, but we're here in the days preceeding running events, press conferences and photo exhibitions to highlight key campaigns such as the World's Longest Toilet Queue.
Check back later today for my first post, and in the meantime, please share this brilliant video on the World's Longest Toilet Queue on facebook and twitter.
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Given G8 history, few people will be surprised to learn they have fallen short of these targets. A recent OECD Report outlined a gap of $18bn, while less than half of those in need of HIV treatment are receiving it. Yet we also know our campaigning has not been in vain – aid is up 30% since 2004, and $88bn of poor country debts have been cancelled, showing our efforts have certainly not been in vain.
Such was the context for a meeting in Vancouver this between anti-poverty campaigners, including End Water Poverty, and the G8 ‘sherpas’ (chief negotiatiors).
This year the summit will be held Canada, allegedly at a venue where the swarms of mosquitoes will make Europe’s volcanic ash look benign. The big issues on the table it seems are accountability (yes, G8 accountability!) and a new package to accelerate efforts to improve the health of mothers and children.
Our challenge is two-fold. First, we need to make sure that they recognise the enormous impact of water and sanitation on child health – the World Health Organisation says it could prevent 2.2 million child deaths every year by tackling common causes of mortality such as diahrroea and malnutrition. Encouragingly, the sherpas claimed to agree, but have not agreed any measures to build on it.
And so secondly we need to provide the ideas that they can use, and then hold them to account to ensure that they stop double counting money, stop shamefully failing to keep their commitments to the world’s poor.
No easy task, but next week (assuming no more volcanic eruptions) is the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water where we hope to see key agreements to increase support to the issue from governments across all continents, and a new framework to hold people to account. Success in this should provide the G8 the push they need – if we can push it strongly enough.
So we’ll be there, representing the views of civil society across the world and the voices of the tens of thousands of people who took part in the World’s Longest Toilet Queue. And we’ll report back on this blog, so do keep reading.
One final thought that struck me this week was this. Vancouver is one of the richest and most prosperous cities in the world – a beautiful place that recently hosted the Winter Olympics and is blessed with immense natural beauty and resource. Yet, listening to local poverty activists and representatives from ‘First Nation’ indigenous groups, there is a tolerance of poverty, inequality and exclusion here too that should shame us. Same battle, different continent. Read about the ‘Poverty Olympics’ for more.
Friday, 16 April 2010
Please share this video with everyone you can. We need as many people to join the online Queue ahead of the High-Level Meeting, just a few days away!
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Jack is an intern at Tearfund, and helped to organise the London Queue - which was a brilliant success. Campaigners were then invited to meet Mike Foster, the UK minister responsible for DFID's work on water and sanitation:
After being part of the record-breaking World’s Longest Toilet Queue to mark World Water Day, I jumped at the chance to meet Mike Foster and take the Queue's demands straight to him.
This was an exciting opportunity to talk about our concerns around water & sanitation, and to ask how DFID have been, and would continue to work towards ensuring that every person on the planet has access to clean water and a safe toilet.
Worryingly, the commitment to tackle the sanitation MDG is in danger of not being met. The Minister agreed that concerted action needed to be taken to dramatically improve the situation. He pointed to the High-level Meeting taking place in April and the MDG Progress Meeting in September as two key points when sanitation must be a high priority.
Failing to tackle the water and sanitation crisis means progress towards other goals is being jeopardized. Health and education improvements will be undermined if water & sanitation continue to be neglected. The Minister suggested that a number of the more popular development issues (e.g. maternal health, education) could be discussed through the lens of water and sanitation, to get more people talking about the sanitation crisis.
Being part of The World’s Longest Toilet wasn’t just fun – it also sent a message to our leaders that they need to take a lead on water & sanitation at a global level.
My Q: What will the UK Government be doing to ensure that other countries follow the leadership that the
A: The UK will do all it can to encourage others to take this crisis seriously, especially at the UN meeting in September, but it’s sometimes difficult to get it on the agenda, with so many areas of development competing for focus.
We took some pictures with the Minister and the giant toilet roll petition, signed by people at the World’s Longest Toilet Queue, which we were able to present to him.
Jack (L) with other End Water Poverty campaigners, and Mike Foster (centre left).
Mike Foster clearly has a passion for the work that he is doing, but also recognizes much more needs to be done to ensure that people around the world are not denied their dignity because they lack access to clean water and decent sanitation.
Following our visit, Mike sent us this message:
“I was pleased to meet with friends and supporters of End Water Poverty this week and I congratulate all involved in the World's Longest Toilet Queue for their efforts to raise awareness of the sanitation crisis... The interest shown by campaigners … demonstrates their commitment to securing real action on water and sanitation for poor people. My department has worked hard to broaden support for the initiative … and we look forward to the first high-level meeting later this month.”
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
End Water Poverty
It is now three weeks since the World’s Longest Toilet Queue event took the globe by storm and we have been inundated with photos, stories and registration sheets showing your incredible events!
Tens of thousands of people took part in 80 countries across six continents making it the biggest ever global campaign on sanitation and water and a world record-breaking event! Congratulations to all who took part! It's still not too late to add your support and join the queue online!
We have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your colourful, inspiring and diverse events. These include an amazing 30,000 campaigners across Nepal who called for the right to water and sanitation to be embedded in their national constitution and one huge queue of over 5,000 people in Burkina Faso, which drew a great deal of attention! In Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa, 600 school children formed a queue to highlight the conditions in the slum, where over 1000 people are forced to share just one toilet block. And there were many more events that combined fun and entertainment with a serious and powerful message: that 2.6 billion people should not have to wait any longer for their basic rights.
So, what next? Well, this world record-breaking event has demonstrated that you won’t stand for 4,000 children under five years old dying each day, just because they lack something so simple as a toilet. It has shown that local, national and international political leaders must put water and sanitation at the top of the global agenda where it belongs.
We are going to make sure that your voices are represented to the ministers and policy makers, who have the power to bring change, at the first High-Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation in Washington DC on 23rd April. We will be presenting a report to ministers showing the global success of the World’s Longest Toilet Queue and giving a snapshot of the hundreds of incredible events that took place. You can find a copy of this brochure at www.endwaterpoverty.org/toiletqueuebrochure. Please have a look and let us know what you think!
We hope that the politicians at the meeting will be as inspired as we were when they read about the queues and that these events can help to end the crisis that is needlessly killing so many.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
End Water Poverty
80 countries. Tens of thousands of people. The World’s Longest Toilet Queue was simply amazing!
A huge well done and a massive thank you from all of us at End Water Poverty to all of you who worked so hard to organise incredible events all across the world.
Just as the leaders of Burkina Faso, Nepal, Ghana and South Africa were not spared the sight of their citizens demanding action for sanitation, nor were those in and around the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate or House of Commons.
There are some tremendous photos you can see of what happened, and some amazing success stories. We’re still gathering them all, and we’ll keep sharing, but what we have so far is sensational. The biggest coordinated global campaign on sanitation the world has seen (until next year).
What’s next? Where is this queue leading? In your country, make sure you use it as a tool for change and be following up the demands you made of your national leaders. Internationally we will be taking your voices and representing your events to ministers and policy makers attending the High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water taking place in Washington DC, 23 April.
We have representatives from Europe, Africa and South Asia taking your voices to this meeting, and representing the common demands you can read in our international manifesto. We’ll be showcasing the videos and photographs to officials, politicians and media too, so that they know there is a global movement waiting to see what they do, and ready to call them up on it they are timid.
We’ll make sure your voice is heard, and will keep you updated here. Until then, keep campaigning and keep spreading the message to join the queue online.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
WaterAid, Burkina Faso
A report from Burkina Faso, where an amazing 5,000 people joined a single Queue!
This year, UN World Water Day deals with water quality as a theme. One could not find better opportunity to talk about sanitation - which causes widespread pollution of water supplies
In Burkina, the national WASH/End Water Poverty coalition and its civil society partners organized the "The World Longest Toilet Queue". More than 5000 people queued up in Ouagadougou March 20, 2010 to ask for changes for the 9,8 millions of Burkinabé who lack access to toilets.
Civil society members asked for the following changes:
-The government and its partners understand that water and sanitation are closely linked to health, education and wider development issues.
-The government increases its own resource allocation to the sanitation sector
-The government and its partners find mechanisms for the absorption of resources allocated to the sector of sanitation
-The structures in charge of sanitation are reinforced
-The specific needs of vulnerable people are taken into account in the promotion of technologies and approaches in water and sanitation
This call of civil society has been supported by solidarity messages from these specific groups: women, children, disabled persons and the poor people leaving in semi-urban areas. They asked for a particular attention to their needs.
Answering to this message, the delegated Minister of agriculture on behalf of the Prime minister congratulated the WASH/ End Water Poverty coalition and its partners for their commitment to improving the living conditions of the population. He promised to be the spokesman of the vulnerable groups.
All the 5000 participants signed a petition that will be presented to the Prime Minister as an advocacy tool. It will also be sent to the High-Level Meeting on water and the sanitation planned for April 2010 in Washington DC.
The WASH/EWP coalition also hopes that Burkina will break the Guinness Record for the World Longest Toilet Queue!
WaterAid, Burkina Faso
La journée mondiale de l’eau de cette année met l’accent sur la qualité de l’eau. On ne pouvait trouver meilleure occasion pour parler du manque d’assainissement adéquat, source de pollution de l’eau de consommation.
Au Burkina Faso, la coalition Nationale Wash/EWP et ses partenaires de la société civile a organisé la campagne « la plus longue file d’attente de toilette au Monde ». Cette campagne de plaidoyer a réuni plus de 5000 personnes à Ouagadougou le 20 mars 2010 dernier pour demander des changements en faveur des 9,8 millions de Burkinabé qui n’ont pas accès aux toilettes.
Les acteurs de la société civile souhaitent par cette campagne voir les changements suivants :
• Le gouvernement et ses partenaires ont compris que les questions d’eau et d’assainissement sont étroitement liées à la santé, à l’éducation, etc
• Les bailleurs du Burkina ont apporté des soutiens multiformes au gouvernement pour l’atteinte des OMD en matière d’eau et d’assainissement
• L’Etat a augmenté ses allocations propres au secteur de l’assainissement
• L’Etat et ses partenaires ont trouvé des mécanismes pour l’absorption des ressources allouées au secteur de l’assainissement
• Les structures en charges de l’assainissement sont renforcées
• Les besoins spécifiques des personnes vulnérables (femmes, PV/VIH, personnes âgées, personnes handicapées) sont pris en compte dans le choix des technologies et approches en matière d’eau et d’assainissement
Cet appel de la société civile a été appuyé par les messages des groupes spécifiques comme les femmes, les enfants, les personnes handicapées et les personnes pauvres. Ils ont tour à tour demandé qu’une attention particulière soit accordée à leurs besoins.
En réponse, le Ministre délégué à l’agriculture représentant le Premier Ministre patron de la cérémonie a salué l’engagement de la coalition Wash/ EWPet de ses partenaires pour améliorer les conditions de vie des populations. Il a promis d’être le porte-parole des groupes vulnérables « auprès des personnes les plus indiquées ».
En outre, toutes les personnes qui se sont alignées ont signé des pétitions qui seront tout d’abord présentées au Premier Ministre, ensuite, envoyées à la rencontre de haut niveau sur l’eau et l’assainissement d’avril 2010 qui réunira les ministres en charge de l’eau, de l’assainissement et des finances.
Le Burkina Faso a aussi essayé de battre le record Guinness de la plus longue file d’attente de toilette au monde. S’il réussi, il attirera l’attention des décideurs du monde sur les questions d’eau et d’assainissement dans le pays.