Thursday, 31 March 2011

World Water Day in the US

World Water Day 2011 provided a coalition of US water organizations, led by WaterAid, the WASH Advocacy Initiative, Population Services International, Millennium Water Alliance, CARE, and others, with several opportunities to raise awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis.

Our campaign began the Friday before World Water Day, when our innovative Donate Your Voice campaign was launched. The campaign enabled people to provide, temporary access to Facebook and Twitter feeds so that we could automatically post awareness-raising messages each day of World Water Week.

By the end of the week, more than 2,000 accounts had been donated and, aggregating all Facebook friends and Twitter followers of those donors, more than two million people were listening to our messages! Our tweets were shared by a wide range of high-profile people and organizations,, including the International Center for Research on Women, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, and Senator Richard Durbin.

The coalition also undertook direct advocacy as part of the broader World Water Day campaign. Nearly 90 advocates signed up to participate in an advocacy day in Washington, DC, and reached more than 80 House and Senate offices with messages about the importance of water and sanitation to US international development assistance. A briefing for Congressional staff, held in one of the most famous and beautiful rooms on Capitol Hill and including speakers from the US government, World Bank, private sector and think tanks, attracted a wide range of attendees and packed the room.

Chris Holmes, Global Water Coordinator of USAID, provides an overview of the US Government’s investments in WASH programming to a packed Congressional briefing. Photo: Bill Crandall

On World Water Day itself, WaterAid in America CEO David Winder spoke to a crowd of more than 800 people at a high-level event at the World Bank. as a guest of Steve Hilton of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the World Bank, and the US Department of State. Among the exciting announcements made at the event and in the week prior were:

· a $50 million dollar five-year commitment from the Hilton Foundation for WASH programming;

· the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by World Bank President Bob Zoellick and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which will “strengthen support to developing countries seeking a water secure future;” and

· the Senate reintroduction of the Water for the World Act, which has bipartisan support and aims to improve the programs implemented under the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Bank President Robert Zoellick signing a Memorandum of Understanding on World Water Day 2011.
Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

Three days of Washington-based activities, ranging from technical workshops to happy hour celebrations, further strengthened the existing advocacy and campaign coalition pushing for increased US investment in pro-poor water, sanitation and hygiene programming. With more than two million people learning more through our social media campaign, the groundwork for an even bigger World Water Day campaign in 2012 has been laid.

Lisa Schechtman, Head of Policy & Advocacy, WaterAid in America

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Water finally on the table at UN conference for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Serena O'Sullivan reports on the first step in ensuring decision makers hear the calls from over 350,000 World Walks for Water campaigners .

It was with great excitement we approached the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) building in London today. Inside, a great meeting was to be held and we had a crucial message to deliver from over 350,000 campaigners worldwide!

UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the LDCs, Mr Cheick Sidi, (writing well in the Guardian earlier today), LDC Watch's Mr Arjun Karki; the UK's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Stephen O’Brien MP; and Alison Evans, Director of ODI held a panel discussion on hopes for the forthcoming crucial fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (IV-LDC).

There were lots of people in the room who hadn't realised the magnitude of activities last week for the World Walks for Water, and the fact that millions of people are still waiting for their most basic needs - clean water and safe sanitation. The fact was brought home to the panel for sure - though inadvertently - as organisers forgot to place drinking water on the table! The mistake was rectified, but it was symbolic of how water can be quite clearly neglected at the most important places.

Cheick Sidi spoke of his hopes for the conference and of ambitious plans - sentiments mirrored by Arjun Karki and Mr O'Brien.

But we were absolutely thrilled to read the draft Istanbul Programme for Action - the document that will be adopted at the conference in May - which is stunningly ambitious in its statement on water and sanitation.

So it's with great pride and excitement that I can report the draft document includes the ambition of ensuring that the conference will commit to ensuring all 48 of the world's poorest countries will obtain access to water and sanitation by 2020.

This is a massive success of our campaigning - politicians and decision makers have heard our calls from national level campaigners across the world, as well as through our international lobbying. We presented our document of demands when speaking with Cheick, Arjun and Stephen after the event, and will now be working hard to ensure the details are incorporated into the Istanbul document in May.

Although this ambitious target of ensure water and sanitation for all LDCs is fantastic, we must make sure that the routes for delivering this change are clearly set out so we can hold governments and the UN to account. We'll be reporting back to you throughout the process, but for today - please do give yourselves a big pat on the back!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Westminster Walk for Water on film

WaterAid have made a great video on the Westminster Walk for Water event which saw 41 MPs, a Lord AND a Bishop attend! They were lobbied on their water and sanitation policies and requested to walk carrying jerry cans! Check out the details in the video (it truly shows the power of campaigning!):

Please share the video far and wide! We'll have a global video coming up for you soon.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Wash United and Viva con Agua walk for water in Berlin, Germany

Hundreds of Berliners marched in solidarity with the millions of people in developing countries who have to walk each and every day just to find water for their basic human needs. A quick update from the German Walkers here:

Participants with vessels filled with water walked through the city of Berlin from their starting point at Oberbaumbrücke to the end point at the front of the Rotes Rathhaus in the city centre.

In Germany, almost 100 per cent of the population have access to piped household connections - meaning that most participants experienced the hardship of having to walk for water for the first time in their lives.

WASH United & Viva con Agua
Participants were walking for water for the first time. Photo credit: Wash United & Viva con Agua

Members of Parliament from the ruling parties CDU/ CSU and FDP, as well as from the Green Party joined the walk to highlight the importance of safe drinking water and sanitation for all and to underline Germany’s commitment to ending the current crisis. It is crucial that donor governments, like Germany, realise the importance of water and sanitation in developing countries so that they target their aid money well.

WASH United & Viva con Agua
The walk ended at the Rotes Rathhaus in Berlin city centre.
Photo credit: Wash United & Viva con Agua

During last year’s World Water Day, Germany’s Foreign and Development ministers announced their dedication to the right to water and sanitation by promising enough German support so that 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will gain access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.

"The German government is investing significant resources to promote access to safe drinking water and sanitation in developing countries. However, a significant percentage of German ODA is still going to middle-income countries rather than to the world’s poorest nations. We need the German government to better target the poorest of the poor if we want to make this preventable crisis history”, stressed Thorsten Kiefer, International Coordinator of WASH United.

Dutch MPs recognize urgency of safe drinking water and sanitation

Dutch organisation Simavi in cooperation with other NGOs organised a successful walk for water in the Hague, the Netherlands on World Water Day. It aimed to put water and sanitation firmly on the political agenda!

World Walks for Water in the Netherlands
Photo Credit: Wijnbergh Fotografie

At the end point of the Walk, a petition was offered to the Dutch parliament. The petition requested governments to take action on the water crisis and focuses on two points. First, ensure that Dutch aid will reach the least developed countries and secondly, to commit to a yearly active reporting system to be put in place. The petition was signed by over 18 Dutch organisations working in the field of water and sanitation.

World Walks for Water in the Netherlands
Dutch MPs Kathleen Ferrier (CDA) and Kees van der Staay (SGP) receive bottled messages from Rolien Sasse, director Simavi, on behalf of End Water Poverty.
Photo credit: Wijnbergh Fotografie
Water is a human right
Ferrier (CDA): ‘Water is a human right. It is important that we focus on water. But what result does that have, and how do we monitor it? We need to look critically at the results’

Water is top priority
Van der Staaij (SGP): “Support for water and sanitation is our top priority in development aid. Access to water and sanitation also provides women with safety which is very important.”

Watch the great video from the day (in Dutch!) below:

Fonetisch lezen
Fonetisch lezen

From a good, to a truly memorable day...

End Water Poverty members Tearfund and WaterAid organised a magnificent event in London, UK on World Water Day. It was targeted at UK politicians to demand they do more to ensure access to water and sanitation to the world's poorest through the aid they give and the policies they champion. Andy Wilson from Tearfund's campaigns team gives a quick update here:

Tuesday was a good day in Westminster.
As the sun shone down on the Palace of Westminster, 43 MPs, a Bishop and Andrew Mitchell MP, the Secretary of State for International Development, came out to join the 350,000 people worldwide taking part in World Walks for Water.

Pre-walk event in Parliament

Fiona Bruce MP hosted a talk the main event for Tearfund and WaterAid supporters, in which she emphasised that campaigning in the UK is vital in ensuring more MPs understand the water and sanitation crisis and that it needs to be tackled now. It was a great rallying call!

Targeted lobbying

Supporters young and old walked alongside politicians as they carried a jerry can around the 100m course in Victoria Tower Gardens. As they walked, the supporters told the MPs more about the water crisis and urged them into action. It was a great way to ensure targeted lobbying! The route was designed to act as a reminder of the fact that millions of people in Africa and Asia, mainly women and children, have to walk 6km to access water. Many MPs commented on the physical effort of carrying water for this short distance and committed to do more to raise the issue in Parliament. Together campaigners made up the distance of 6km.

(L-R) Barbara Frost, WaterAid CEO, Andrew Mitchell MP, Matthew Frost, Tearfund CEO, at the Westminster Walk for Water

As well as Andrew Mitchell MP, a huge number of MPs connected to development joined in. Members of the International Development Select Committee
Anas Sarwar MP, Hugh Bayley MP and Richard Burden MP attended. Harriet Harman MP, the Shadow SoS came with her colleague from the shadow team Mark Lazarowicz MP and fellow shadow Cabinet members Douglas Alexander MP and Sadiq Khan MP also walked and listened to campaigners.

Next steps
World Water Day can, however, be more than just a good day at Westminster.
We now need to see the positive words and actions taken by our leaders translate into a real increase in ambition to raise more people out of water and sanitation poverty.

For the 22 March 2011 to be remembered as more than just a good day in Westminster Andrew Mitchell and the government must now raise their ambition and lift 100m people out of water and sanitation poverty by 2015.

Please join us in making this happen by signing WaterAid's petition to the Government...Please sign the petition here and see photos of the day on WaterAid's facebook page.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

1000 walk for water in Kara, Togo and present declaration to politicians

On World Water Day 1000 women, children and students from the local high schools and university came together to walk for water in the streets of Kara, the second largest town in Togo, in the northern part of the country. They demanded that their government provide drinking water for all and better sanitation services for the communities especially for schools.
ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, Togo
1000 people joined the Walk for Water in Kara, Togo Photo credit: ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement

The walk ended at the central hall of the Palais des Congrès de Kara where political authorities were celebrating World Water Day. The walkers lobbied the politicians with slogans such as “Water is life”, “More toilets in schools” and “our rivers are not toilets”.  Campaigners read out their declaration called the Appeal of Kara in the hall in front of the Minister for Water and Sanitation, General Zakari Nandja and then presented him with a copy. The declaration calls on political authorities to make the right of water and sanitation a reality in Togo. The declaration ends with the simple and clear message; “We need water and toilets in our schools”.

ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, Togo
Delivering the declaration. Photo credit: ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement

Water pollution is a significant problem in Togo especially in the rural areas where only 43% have access to clean water compared with 90% in urban areas. In addition 7 out of 10 people don’t have access to adequate toilet facilities and only 10% of people in rural areas have access to safe sanitation. Contamination of the water supply is a significant contributor to the spread of disease in Togo.
ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, Togo
Photo credit: ONG Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement

Campaigners in Uganda lobby their Minister for Water and the Environment

The aim of the World Walks for Water event was to demand that politicians take action on the water and sanitation crisis whether in their own country or abroad. Here we hear about the lobbying successes of campaigners in Uganda who did a fantastic job getting their message across to newly elected government ministers.

Campaigners in Uganda presented their Minister of Water and the Environment Hon. Maria Mutagamba with a Civil Society Manifesto as part of World Water Day celebrations in the Kawempe Division. In the manifesto civil society organisations under the banner of Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) demanded that water and sanitation becomes a top government political and funding priority as it is such a key step towards ending poverty.

World Walks for Water, Uganda
Hon. Maria Mutagamba Minister of Water and Environment receiving a Civil Society Manifesto (CSO ) from Alice Anukur the WaterAid in Uganda Country representative

In response the Minister said in her speech that:

” With the right policies and priorities safe water and sanitation for all is possible so as to deliver tangible results to people, encourage economic development and promoting stability across regions. Access to reliable supplies of clean water is a matter of human security. It is also a matter of national security. That’s why we need to accelerate our commitment and investments in hygiene and sanitation and take immediate action to increase access to improved services throughout the world. Uganda has made tremendous efforts to improve water and sanitation coverage, efforts which need to be recognised, supported and replicated. Government needs every one of us to support all efforts of redressing the legacies of the past. We encourage and call upon civil society, corporate and donor community to work with government in ensuring that these efforts come to pass.”

World Walks for Water, Uganda
The Minister makes a speech on the water and sanitation crisis to campaigners and political figures, with the CSO manifesto in hand

Tens of thousands of people across Uganda took part in the World Walks for Water event including a 50,000 strong march in the capital Kampala. Uganda is a country severely blighted by the water and sanitation crisis. Close to half of the population lives without a safe water supply.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


A massive congratulations to the 350,000 participants of The World Walks for Water!

Events took place across Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas - with politicians hearing loud and clear that the water and sanitation crisis is a scandal and must end NOW.

Serena O'Sullivan , coordinator of The World Walks for Water, shares a message of good wishes below from London:

And the work doesn't stop yet! We'll be taking your actions to the UN's Least Developed Countries Conference in Istanbul in May. We'll tell politicians there that they must commit to making progress on getting water to the world's poorest. So please continue to join the online Walk for Water so your voice will count!

And do keep checking back this week for stories of the campaign from around the world! You can see photos stream in to our Flickr page through the week.

Congratulations for our members!

A quick blog post from Fleur Anderson, End Water Poverty's International Campaign Coordinator on the coalition's campaigning today.

Congratulations to all the End Water Poverty members who have planned for this day for months or come on board in the last few days. You have organized, promoted, printed t-shirts, made banners, worked with politicians, made TV programmes and debates, put together creative events, and walked and walked and walked.

This year’s events have shown the global strength of feeling about the water and sanitation crisis. Together, we have taken action for the millions of women who spend their days carrying back-breaking containers, the parents who have no choice but to give their children dirty water, the four thousand little children who died today as a result, the girls who have to face the fear of defecating outside, and those who have to leave school because they have to fetch water instead.

As I write, the stories are coming in of walks in Monrovia, France, India, Malawi, Kampala and rural Bangladesh and so many others. I have just come back from a very successful event of more than 40 British politicians walking for water and taking action in Westminster.

People are walking in their thousands, and each walker has a tale to tell and a demand to make. We are ambitious for change and we want to see our politicians ambitious too – illness from dirty water and no sanitation should not be the status quo for so many millions of people any more.

Our target of 100,000 walkers has been far exceeded – there are 365,000 that we know of, and its going up all the time. This action has really hit a nerve and there is a global call for water and sanitation which is growing louder and louder – and you made that happen today. Its not easy to make clear demands of politicians, to ask for action, to be ambitious for national change. Congratulations to everyone who has organized and joined the World Walk for Water – today marked a huge step forward towards ending water poverty.

350,000 walkers for water gather across the globe

Press release to mark World Water Day 2011!

Over 350,000 people across the world will take action on the water and sanitation crisis this today in The World Walks for Water. People will walk a symbolic 6km in São Paulo, New Delhi, Cape Town, Lagos, Kampala, Ouagadougou and hundreds of other locations in solidarity with the millions of people who have to walk 6km everyday just to collect water for their basic needs.

Walking around the world

The walks target politicians, demanding that they solve the crisis which kills 4000 children every day. A staggering 50,000 people in total will be walking in Uganda, one of the countries most severely affected by the crisis. Walkers in Uganda are calling upon their newly elected politicians to keep promises made in the election campaign on providing safe water and sanitation to constituents.

A vicious cycle

Doreen Kabasindi Wandera, the Executive Director of the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) described living with the water and sanitation crisis:

“Uganda has a population of over 33 million people. Nearly 50% of this population does not have easy access to clean water. In a typical Ugandan village, women and children start water journeys as early as 6.00 am and walk for as long as 10 kilometres to access safe water for domestic use.”

Serena O’Sullivan, a coordinator of the World Walks for Water, pointed to the problems this crisis causes in the developing world:

“A lack of access to safe, clean water and sanitation locks people in to a vicious cycle of disease, poverty and under-development. Children are kept from going to school and gaining an education and women are denied economic equality because of the time and energy spent gathering water.”

She added that the crisis has huge effects on economies as well: “An estimated 5% of developing countries’ GDP is lost to illnesses and deaths caused by dirty water and a lack of sanitation. Amazingly, research last year showed inadequate sanitation costs India US$ 53.8 billion, which is equivalent to 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in 2006. The madness must stop –investment in water and sanitation makes sense economically and socially.”

Keeping politicians to their promises

This action comes less than two months before leaders attend a crucial United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul in May 2011. Participants in the World Walks for Water event will send a clear message to politicians attending the conference that they cannot ignore the water and sanitation crisis any longer. They will demand that promises made as part of the Millennium Development Goals to halve the proportion of people without access to sanitation and water by 2015 must be kept.

Serena O’Sullivan insisted that water and sanitation must be one of the top political priorities: “The water and sanitation crisis must become a political and funding priority as it is such a key step towards ending poverty. We want all people living in LDCs to have access to water and sanitation by 2020.”

Doreen Kabasindi Wandera added that “The increased work load for women who are already burdened with both reproductive and productive roles cannot be ignored any longer.”


Notes for editors:

1. The World Walks for Water is organized by the following organisations:

  • End Water Poverty – A global coalition of over 185 organisations campaigning to end the water and sanitation crisis.
  • Freshwater Action Network (FAN) – A major network of civil society organisations implementing and influencing water and sanitation policy and practice.
  • The Water Supply and Sanitation Council (WSSCC) – A global multi-stakeholder partnership organization that works to improve the lives of poor people.
  • Wash United – A coalition of civil society organisations, United Nation agencies, governments and sport stars promoting safe drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for all people, everywhere.

2. World Water Day is an international initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de

Janeiro. It has since been observed every year on the 22nd March. On this day member nations implement UN recommendations and concrete activities regarding the world’s water resources.

3. The UN Conference for Least Developed Countries will take place in Istanbul, Turkey on 9th -13th May 2011. Representatives from all the LDCs will evaluate progress on development goals and set new goals accordingly. The conference will also seek to reaffirm the global commitment for the UN to address the needs of the LDCs and mobilize international support.

Please access for photographs. Original copies available on request.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Le Monde Marche pour L'Eau!

Coalition Eau (French Water Coalition, a member of the End Water Poverty campaign), organised a walk for water in sunny Paris on Sunday 20th March. Walkers made their way along the Seine river, from Paris City Hall to the Water Pavilion. The participants showed their solidarity with the victims of the water and sanitation crisis and demanded strong government action, especially in view of the upcoming 6th World Water Forum that will take place in Marseille, France, in March 2012.


Women Walking for Water in Timor-Leste

José Seixas (Policy and Advocacy Officer, WaterAid Timor-Leste) updates us on Timor-Leste's World Walks for Water event which took place early on International Women's Day...

International Women’s Day was celebrated in Timor-Leste on 8th March; it’s an important day for all of women in the world to once again stand up for their rights, so we combined the day with our celebrations for The World Walks for Water. In Timor-Leste, International Women’s Day is marked as an important day for celebrating the achievements of women and recognizing how important women are in contributing to the development of the country.

Walking through the streets of Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Ian Ross

On this day, women and men from different NGOs, Government organizations, and Universities participated in this ceremony which is organized by the National Department of Water and Sanitation of Timor-Leste (DNSAS), and with support from the AusAid Besik program.

In the opening ceremony, there were speeches. The Ambassador of Australia stated that “women can also be a technical person for activities of water service as well as men”. Afterward, the director of DNSAS, Mr. João Jeronimo declared that “our government does not want to see women of Timor-Leste walking a long distance for water any more”

During that event, WaterAid staff Delfina and Novi also showed off some photos of gender research carried out a couple of weeks ago at Datakolo and Manuquibia villages, district of Liquiça. The research looked at changes in lives of men and women as a result of water and sanitation projects.

Afterwards, WaterAid organized people to do an activity as part of the World Walks for Water campaign. People carried buckets filled with water in a short walk around the local area in solidarity with people affected by lack of clean water around the world. Around 80 People took part and the director of DNSAS Mr. Joao Jeronimo was also carrying a bucket. After the campaign, a participant noted that “We walked only for 500 meters and I am tired, but in hilly rural areas even pregnant women walk 2 km for water”

How would you choose to use your time - walking for water or planning your wedding?

On the eve of World Water Day and the main events for The World Walks for Water, WaterAid has revealed 10 startling comparisons between the time the UK population spends on everyday activities such as watching football, planning a wedding, and surfing social networking sites, and the time people in the world’s poorest countries spend fetching water.

Across Africa, the average amount of time spent fetching water is three hours a day.

The responsibility of collecting water usually falls on the shoulders of women and children, preventing them from going to school, earning a living or just having fun. In fact, a total of 40 billion working hours are lost every year to water collection. Too often, the water is dirty, resulting in diseases such as diarrhoea or cholera.

“Lack of water and sanitation traps people in a vicious circle of disease, lost opportunities, poverty and indignity,” said Girish Menon, Director for International Programmes at WaterAid.

“That’s why WaterAid and other members of End Water Poverty will hold walking events across the globe on World Water Day to raise awareness of the wasted hours and missed opportunities for millions of people across the globe.”

What would you have to miss out on?

• Let’s get social: In the UK, people spend an average of five hours 48 minutes on social networking sites per week (comScore). In Sub-Saharan Africa, that’s two trips to collect water. What would you rather be doing?

• I say! The average man will spend five hours a week staring at different women (Kodak Lens Vision Centres). In one week, the average woman in a developing country would have spent 21 hours collecting water.

• Wedding bells: A bride-to-be spends an average of 250 hours preparing for a wedding. For a woman in Africa, that time could be spent making 83 trips to collect water. You can bet she’d rather be planning her big day!

• Goal! Mr Average in Britain spends six hours and 12 minutes a week watching, talking about and keeping up-to-date on football (BT Vision). After that amount of time, a woman in the developing world could be making her third trip in one day to collect water.

• Break a sweat: The average adult exercises just 50 minutes a week (WeightWatchers) – less than a third of one trip to collect 20kg of water.

• Off to the shops: The average British woman spends 94 hours and 55 minutes shopping for food over one year, and more than 100 hours shopping for clothes (OnePoll). Women in sub-Saharan Africa spend the same amount of time collecting water in just one month. This time could be much better spent growing or selling their own food.

• School’s out: It takes a mighty 3,600 study hours to complete an Open University Honours degree. That’s little more than three years spent fetching water – time better spent on education.

• Beep, beep! It takes, on average, 47 hours of driving lessons to pass a driving test in the UK (DirectGov). In the same amount of time, millions in Africa will have made just 15 trips to collect water – and they won’t be making those journeys by car.

• On track: The average daily commute in the UK takes 47 minutes and 48 seconds (TUC). It might feel like 47 minutes too many, but it’s still less than a third of the time it takes to collect water in sub-Saharan Africa.

• A nice cuppa: We spend about six hours a week drinking tea and coffee (LearnDirect). That’s two trips to collect water, with no coffee break.

For 884 million people around the world currently living without one, a safe water supply close to home is both a lifesaver and a time-saver, enabling them to take a crucial step out of poverty.

“Water is essential for improving health, education, gender equality and economic growth,” added Girish. “Governments must commit to taking action to provide the world’s poorest with access to both clean water and safe sanitation. The world can’t wait any longer.”

Join the online walk for water to call for immediate action to end the global water crisis.

The World Walks for Water in Delhi

1750 people have taken part in a Walk for Water in Delhi, India organized by the NGO Forum for Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement (FORCE) and WaterAid India. They were joined by the Indian Minister of Water Resources, Salman Khurshid.

FORCE, Delhi, India
Jyoti Sharma, President, FORCE (pictured, second left). Photo credit: 
In India there are vast numbers of people without sanitation and water. Just 15% of the rural population has access to a toilet - meaning that some 21 million Indians need to gain access to basic sanitation every year if the Millennium Development Goal of just halving the proportion of people without sanitation is to be met. This crisis also has a severe affect on the developing economy of India; research last year showed inadequate sanitation costs India US$ 53.8 billion, which is equivalent to 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in 2006. Two-fifths or close to 55 million rural households in India do not have access to the sources of safe drinking water within their premises. 38 million people are affected by waterborne diseases every year leading to a loss of 73 million working days each year.

FORCE, Delhi, India
Minister of Water Resources, Salman Khurshid (pictured) attended and was lobbied by campaigners. Photo credit: 
Walk For Water in Delhi was aimed at inducing a shift in governmental policy towards planning for water self sufficiency at a micro level. Speaking at the event, Salman Khurshid said “I look forward to a time 5 years from now, when Delhi will be the first Indian city to become totally Water Secure.”

The organiser Jyoti Sharma the President of FORCE said that “Delhi is the greenest city in the country [almost 30% green cover] with the second highest per capita income and educated population in any city in the country. With all these assets, there is no reason why we should not be able to reduce our dependence on outside sources of water.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The World Walks for Water kicks off!

The campaign has finally arrived! And a whopping 350,000 people will be taking part worldwide! Hundreds of Walks for Water will happen over the next few days, culminating on World Water Day on Tuesday. Today there'll be Walks in India, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Canada, Malawi, London, Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan, Sweden, the USA, Kenya, Nepal, Belgium, China amongst many other places!

If you've just heard about the campaign - you can still get involved! Grab friends, family and colleagues and walk in your city, town or village to raise awareness of the water and sanitation crisis. Publicise the event using posters you'll find on our resources page, and make sure you add a political element. You could invite your Mayor, local government representative or make sure you take photos of your Walkers and then send them into your local paper so that we can raise awareness of the crisis amongst the general public. It all makes a difference!

Do keep a look out for photos on our Flickr page as they start coming through from around the world (there are already some photos there from Timor-Leste's early event on International Women's Day) and if you're hosting an event, send your photos in to us ASAP! All the details on how to do so here. Essentially, you just attach them to an email and send them to a special email address. They'll appear on Flickr for all to see!

We're very proud of the campaign here at HQ - we cannot wait to hear your stories and see your photos! GOOD LUCK!

Friday, 18 March 2011

SWA Update

Fleur Anderson shares latest news from the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership...

End Water Poverty successfully campaigned for a global process to champion the cause of water and sanitation, to coordinate the funding of national sanitation and water plans, and to monitor the progress of actions on the ground to get sanitation and water to everyone.

The result of the campaign is the Sanitation and Water for All partnership which is an international agreement between governments in the North and the South, the big donors organizations and civil society organizations to work together. It is a group of powerful people championing the case, based on really good evidence of where the need is greatest, one means of coordinating funding better, and one body of people influential enough to check the progress of national plans.

After massive pressure from people all over the world the partnership was launched in Washington DC in April 2010 with a meeting of worldwide leaders and politicians who came with pledges for action on water and sanitation.

The partnership is now continuing to work together to get the evidence needed to decide how the big money should be spent better, to promote water and sanitation at the highest levels, and to keep checking on progress.

The new steering committee is now up and running and comprises:

Developing Countries – African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uganda

Donors – Netherlands (DGIS), Switzerland (SDC) and United Kingdom (DFID)

Multilaterals – Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

Banks – African Development Bank

Civil Society – African Civil Society Network (ANEW), End Water Poverty (EWP) and Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA)

Sector Partners – International Water Association (IWA) and Water Aid.

This year the Sanitation and Water for All partnership will be showcasing its work all around the world! We'll be with them at international events such as the Asian and African sanitation conferences, SACOSAN and AfricaSan, the UN Least Developed Country Conference, World Water Week, and the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. It's going to be quite a year!

In developing countries the work of starting and improving on national plans continues, and the Sanitation and Water for All partnership will be the forum for the donor governments and Southern governments to work together to make sure that ‘no national credible plan fails for lack of finance’. This will all come together in the next High-Level Meeting of the partnership in April 2012, when again civil society will be hoping that governments will step up to the challenge, make good on their promises and show how we take the real steps of policy change which will dramatically improve the delivery of urban and rural sanitation and water services for everyone, everywhere.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tens of thousands to join Ugandan Walk for Water

Doreen Kabasindi Wandera is the Executive Director of the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET).  Here she talks about why political action on water and sanitation is so desperately needed in her country and her plans for the World Walks for Water event.

Uganda has a population of over 33 million people. Nearly 50% of this population do not have easy access to clean water. Typical scenes in Uganda’s urban settings are of men carrying water on bicycles and motorcycles, while those in the rural population, which is the majority, cannot afford bicycles and have to walk. In a typical Ugandan village, women and children start water journeys as early 6.00am, so as to have time to catch up with other household chores. It is also a known fact that most women and girls trek journeys as long as 6-10 kilometres and queue for several hours at a water source in order to access safe water for domestic use. This in turn has affected girl's education since they miss out on school. Those who are lucky enough to make it to school at all often arrive too late to catch up with their male counterparts. This has contributed to a disproportionately high school drop out rate for girls and increased illiteracy levels among the female population. The increased work load for women who are already burdened with both reproductive and productive roles cannot be ignored.

There has been a steady decline in resource allocation to the water and environmental sectors, for example in 2004/5 the budget allocation was 4.9% of the national annual budget but this dropped to 2.4% in 2008/09. This has significantly weakened the sector’s ability to effectively address the needs of Uganda’s growing population hence the foreseen failure to meet the 2015 world targets if the situation is not addressed. It is also important to note that water and sanitation are not among the priority sectors for the National Development Plan. Of equal primary concern are inadequate good governance practices affecting equity in Water and Sanitary Hygiene (WASH) service delivery, affordability and meaningful public participation in decision making on matters of WASH at various levels of planning. There is a lack of awareness about WASH as a human right, hence the public is not empowered enough to compel the government to respond to their WASH needs.

Youth in Masaka town collecting water on bicycles 

It is against this background that Civil Society Organizations under their umbrella network of the Uganda Water Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) has joined the rest of the world to Walk for Water. This event will:

· Raise awareness about the water and sanitation crisis in the country that is slowly and silently hurting our population.

· Demand action from politicians who have recently been elected on promises of improvements in access to safe water and sanitation to their electorates

· Demand that the government make WASH a priority in its plans for the financial year 2011/2012.

7 districts have registered to participate in the World Walks for Water event. The walk will end in the capital city of Kampala, in the urban area of Kawempe Division which is a densely populated area where Cholera often out breaks and floods are common. Here the CSO will present their Manifesto to the country's leaders, most of whom have confirmed participation in the event. Other activities organised will include television talk shows featuring top government officials.

Children walk for water every day
Girls in particular miss out on school

Monday, 14 March 2011

Quebec lend their feet to the campaign too!

Marie-Anne Champoux-Guimond from ONE DROP writes here about the event her organisation is planning for the World Walks for Water, in coordination with Oxfam-Québec.

On the eve of World Water Day on March 22, ONE DROP and Oxfam-Québec will host a very unique World Walks for Water event on March 19th, at Montreal’s Eaton Center, as part of the global campaign led by End Water Poverty. Shoppers and passers-by will experiment, through a fun theatrical mise en scene, what a day without water feels like, and how the lack of access to that vital resource impacts multiple dimensions of our daily life. Each participant will add a few steps to a collective walk, in a demonstration of solidarity with almost one billion people who, in the developing world, walk long hours everyday to fetch water.

Join us for that special World Water Day event! You can find more details on the ONE DROP website.

The Walk for Water in Burkina Faso

Inna Guenda
WaterAid Burkina Faso

Inna took part in the coordination of the World's Longest Toilet Queue campaign in Burkina Faso last year - getting more than 8000 in line for sanitation and water! The campaign achieved amazing results, including new government commitments and a much higher profile of the issues nationally. Inna shares her plans now for the World Walks for Water next week how she'll use the international campaign to ensure commitments are delivered and improvements
More than 3000 people will Walk for Water on March 19th in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Women, children and men will be part of this mass movement for change. To make it more interesting, donkeys, camels, bicycles will join in - showing the ways and means people employ to collect their water.

Our main messages to decision makers during our walk will be:

-to ask for action in line with the commitment of the head of State to sanitation during the launch of the National Sanitation Campaign last year (which followed our World's Longest Toilet Queue campaign).

-Showing that prioritizing of sanitation and water will have an improved impact on health, education and economy in Burkina Faso.

Demanding sanitation priritization and that technologies are made more affordable for everyone. This includes developing low-cost latrines, latrines adapted to disabled persons’ needs, and monitoring the populations most in need.

Several organizations working on health, education, gender, child’s rights, government officials, etc will support the walk meaning we can reach much bigger audiences and provide an even bigger mandate for action.

We are finalizing our communication tools to get everyone involved in the activity and we also had amassing meetings to get all these plans and messages clear during the week. People are really excited about this campaign!

If you're organising an event too- make sure you register it on the website. I'll write again after the event so you can see how many got involved and what we achieve! Good luck in your own organising!