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!

1 comment:

Anna Gaskill, CBM Australia said...

This is a great campaign success - well done to all involved! It will now be important to make sure all programs for providing water and sanitation consider the needs and rights of people with disabilities. Water points and latrines are so often not accessible for people with disabilities - but it doesn't need to be that way. Including Disabled People's Organisations in planning will lead to greater accessibility for all.