Friday, 8 April 2011

Campaigners take the World Walks for Water message to New York

Inna Guenda and Prince Kreplah, water and sanitation campaigners from Burkina Faso and Liberia have spent this week in New York to lobby an important preparatory meeting of participants of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) to be held in Istanbul in May. They went to tell participants that an amazing 350,000 people demand that they take action on the water and sanitation crisis.

Many of the outcomes of LDC-IV will be decided before the actual conference at meetings such as this. Indeed as we reported last week a draft Istanbul Programme for Action has already been released, a document which we were delighted to see set ambitious targets for water and sanitation provision. However, negotiations are still very much ongoing regarding the content of the programme and campaigners wish to see clear guidelines outlined as to how the UN will meet its targets. It is still crucial therefore that the LDC-IV participants are educated on the available solutions that can help LDCs to meet these ambitious targets such as the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership.

Inna and Prince were hoping to see an increased prioritization and visibility of water, sanitation and hygiene at the conference. They wanted vast improvements after the Brussels Plan of Action evaluation report showed that little progress on water and sanitation had been made since the last LDC conference held in 2001. Indeed this report revealed that water access for rural populations in LDCs only increased by 4% in 8 years between 2000 and 2008. Access to sanitation went down in the same time.

Prince and Inna distributed copies of the civil society manifesto to the LDC conference which includes tangible actions governments and donors could take to tackle the crisis. All participants received a copy and some have already committed themselves to meeting the recommendations. Prince and Inna also met and lobbied representatives from the government delegations of Bangladesh, China, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Togo, CANZ (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and Senegal. As well as meeting with the chairmen and some members of the G77 delegation (a loose coalition of UN developing countries).

Hopefully, as a result of our lobbying and the 350,000 people who took part in the World Walks for Water, the Istanbul Programme for Action will actively improve access to water and sanitation for the world’s poorest people and in turn help to lift them out of poverty and hardship.

No comments: