Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Landmark SWA mission results in success in Liberia

Yael Velleman of WaterAid
Here Yael Velleman, Policy Analyst at WaterAid, one of End Water Poverty’s founding members, reports on her recent visit to Liberia as part of a Sanitation and Water for All pilot mission.

Officials from the government of Liberia, donor representatives and civil society organizations took part in a Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) pilot mission to Liberia between the 27th April and the 3rd May. It was a key step for the partnership formed at the world’s first ever High Level Meeting on water and sanitation in April last year, as it marked the first time it has been put in to practice on a national level.

Delegates in attendance included representatives from the Liberian Ministries of Public Works, Planning and Economic Affairs and Education, agencies such as UNICEF and the World Bank WSP, Development Partners such as USAID, private companies such as the Liberia Water and Sewerage Corporation and civil society groups such as WaterAid and the Liberia WASH Consortium led by Oxfam and other national civil society organizations. Delegates took part in a week long consultative discussion on measures required for equitable and sustained improvements to access to water and sanitation in Liberia. Key challenges were debated and reported in the media, ensuring a high level of public interest and contributing to the transparency of the mission process. The discussion resulted in a draft “Compact” to be implemented over the next two years, containing commitments by all relevant actors. Among the key points agreed were: inclusion of WASH messages in school curricula, consideration of gender issues in WASH development, annual evaluation of whether the targets are being met and targeted investment in vulnerable areas. The Compact mandates partners to come together to take the necessary actions to provide sanitation and water for all in Liberia.

Women collect unsafe water in Liberia,
herwigphoto/Demotix Images
Liberia has recently been plagued by civil war and the number of people with access to clean and safe water and sanitation is very low. The strength of the “Compact” and its focus on specific and practical actions raises hopes that it will result in real changes for the people of Liberia. It is hoped that the success of this mission will show the value of the SWA partnership and its ability to bring key stakeholders together to support nationally-driven WASH planning processes. This should pave the way for similar processes to begin in other countries.

There was a real sense of optimism and energy during the Mission discussions, and a feeling that the Compact can deliver real results for Liberia. The challenge, as always, is to get past the written statements to make sure that real change takes place on the ground. This has certainly been a problem in Liberia, where key policies have not yet been operationalised, but there is a sense that the timebound commitments made in the Compact could result in the necessary measures for implementation.

For more information on the Sanitation and Water for All partnership please visit http://www.sanitationandwaterforall.org/ or http://www.endwaterpoverty.org/SWA

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Walking for Water in Istanbul

The World Walks for Water campaign took place all over the globe on World Water Day - from Lesotho to Liberia, Nepal to Niger, London to Las Vegas. Campaigners put pressure on their national decision-makers to make progress on water and sanitation - either in the aid they give to developing countries, or in the prioritization they give water and sanitation in their own development plans.

A key moment to link all of these national activities and lobbying was to happen weeks later - at the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, where End Water Poverty campaigners would take the stories and events from the World Walks for Water to this international forum to ensure a higher profile for water and sanitation.

One strategic moment at the conference was to launch our very own World Walks for Water event in Istanbul - to show the conference delegates that the world wants them to act.

The Istanbul Walk took place in the midst of the conference, starting at the main entrance where all delegates enter the building - the Lutfi Kirdar Convention Centre. Walkers from Cameroon, Senegal, Germany, UK, Uganda and many other nationalities, joined the walk in national dress as well as some in their conference suits. They sang "L'eau, l'eau, l'eau pour tous" through the corridors and out into the sunshine as they posed for pictures. Doreen Wandera, President of the Ugandan Water and Sanitation Network and Jon Lane, Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council joined the walk as well as Fleur Anderson, End Water Poverty's International Coordinator.
Take a look at some other photos here, and check back on the blog to see the other great achievements at the conference.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

And the winners are...best World Walks for Water photos announced

It's the moment you've all been waiting for...Professional photographer Layton Thompson (http://laytonthompson.com/) has looked through every single one of the 600+ photos submitted to our flickr page of all of your walks for water around the world. It is our pleasure to announce the winners in the following categories:

Winners - Largest amount of people in a photo

Winner - Largest amount of people in a photo

This photo of school children walking for water in Tamil Nadu, South East India impressed Layton because " all of the children are dressed in blue/purple so they kind of echo a flowing river"

Winner - largest amount of people in a photo

This photo of walkers on the FORCE organised walk for water also won in the largest amount of people in a photo category.

Winners - Most unusual location

Winner - most unusal location

This picture, taken at east Suandarban (the world's largest mangrove forest situated south west corner of Bangladesh) won in the most unusual location category. Layton said "The pictures taken at the mangrove in Bangladesh are good. They show a lot of people, are colourful and also make a statement about looking after the environment to protect priceless water sources"

Winner - most unusual location

This picture, taken at east Suandarban (the world's largest mangrove forest situated south west corner of Bangladesh) won in the most unusual location category. Layton said "The pictures taken at the mangrove in Bangladesh are good. They show a lot of people, are colourful and also make a statement about looking after the environment to protect priceless water sources"

Winners - Best slogan featured in a photo

Winner - best slogan featured in a photo

This photo that shows the pollution of a once clean canal impressed Layton in the best slogan featured in a photo category because: "the whole picture makes a statement and when you read the description it hits home the need to protect and look after water sources."

Winner - best slogan featured in a photo

This photo of a young girl campaigning in Nepal won in the best slogan featured in a photo category. Layton said: "This is one of my favourite pictures of all 600. The colours are great, the girl looking off to the side looks good and even if you cannot understand what the statement says, the two exclamation marks let you know it's powerful."

Winner - best slogan featured in a photo

This picture of girls walking in Liberia is another winner in the best slogan category. Layton said: "I like this one because the statement is clear and very powerful as it's a group of girls"

Winner - best slogan featured in a photo

These young campaigners in Uganda won in the best slogan category because the picture is full of statements and your eyes are drawn to them

Winners - Most artistic photos

Winner - most artistic photo

Layton felt that the artistic creation featured in this photo deserved to win in the most artistic category. He said "The umbrella made from water bottles is stunning, and could also make a statement about rainwater harvesting / collection."

Winner - most artistic photo

This photo of Women Walking for Water in Makawanpur won in the most artistic category. Layton liked the unusual perspective and the contrast of colour and tone.
Winner - most artistic photo

Ollie Harrop's photo of children from Henry Cavendish School in London was another winner in the most artistic photo category.

Winner - most artistic photo

This photo of Belgian school children sheepishly eyeing up a bottle of dirty water also won in the most artistic photo category. Layton said: "I like this as it illustrates dirty water, it's full of teenagers who will be the next generation of policy makers and activists."

Winners - Most colourful photos

Winner - most colourful photo
Winner - most colourful photo

The wacky Cirque de Soleil performers won in the most colourful photo category for their pictures of their 6km run. Layton felt the images were really striking and colourful.

Winner - most colourful photo

WaterAid campaigners in Nepal won in the most colourful photo category for this picture showing a young boy walking for water. Layton said: "I really like this picture, it's dynamic and there's a good contrast between the terracotta jars and the blue & white hats. Because the frame is full it also gives a sense of a lot of people and a big event."

Winner - most colourful photo

Our final winner was this picture showing the UWASNET walk for water in Uganda. Layton said "I like this picture not so much for the literal colour (there are more colourful pics to choose from) but for the overall colour the image portrays with the music. The musicians on the left of the picture bring it to life and the fact the image has been cropped suggest the photographer thought about the composition and choose to present a more panoramic image."

What do you think of our winners? Let us know!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The writing’s on the wall…the long wait for a toilet

In a week we've spent looking at progress and challenges faced by the poorest 48 countries in the world, we're keen to show that sanitation is an issue still providing challenges in those countries no longer in abject poverty. South Africa enjoys great economic prosperity - but the poorest and most marginalised still face a life without access to adequate sanitation. Jonathan Dockney writes here on behalf of the Social Justice Coalition about their campaign to ensure access to sanitation for the poorest, and recent campaigning activities to achieve this.

On 27 April 2011 – Freedom Day –, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) hosted a Toilet Queue protest outside the Mayor of Cape Town’s offices. The Toilet Queue was held in aid of getting the city to deliver better sanitation services to the people of Khayelitsha. It was the second of two such planned protests, one held in Khayelitsha on 16 April 2011 and the second held in Cape Town on 27 April 2011.

The SJC is community-based movement, located in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, with a current membership of over 1000 active members. The SJC focuses on two main campaigns: addressing the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, and fighting for clean and safe sanitation in informal settlements.

The iconic queues of voters during the 1994 South African elections captured the miracle of that day, 17 years ago. Sadly, today, the metaphor of the queue also captures the sense of betrayal and let down felt by millions of South Africans, 17 years after the 1994 elections. The Cape Town Toilet Queue was held on Freedom Day to symbolically represent that, for many South Africans, freedom is far from won. This is where the Toilet Queue draws its motif. The SJC held its first Toilet Queue last year on Human Rights Day, with over 600 people in attendance. This was held outside a very well maintained public toilet in Sea Point in Cape Town. This Toilet Queue coincided with World Water Day and the World’s Longest Toilet Queue campaign, where people around the world queued for toilets in solidarity with those without this fundamental right. Since the 2010 Queue, the toilets in Sea Point have been upgraded to the tune of R770 000.

The Strategic Framework for Water Services (2003) defines a basic sanitation facility as:

The infrastructure necessary to provide a sanitation service which is safe, reliable, private, protected from the weather, ventilated, keeps smells to the minimum, is easy to keep clean, minimizes the risk of the spread of sanitation-related diseases by facilitating the appropriate control of disease carrying flies and pests, and enables safe and appropriate treatment and/or removal of human waste and wastewater in an environmentally sound manner.

The Strategic Framework for Water Services (2003) defines a basic sanitation service as:

The provision of a basic sanitation facility which is easily accessible to a household, the sustainable operation of the facility, including the safe removal of human waste and wastewater from the premises where this is appropriate and necessary, and the communication of good sanitation, hygiene and related practices.

The SJC’s campaign for clean and safe sanitation in Khayelitsha can be located within these above definitions. Approximately 37% of the 128 000 households who live in informal settlements in Cape Town do not have access to basic sanitation (Goldberg 2009: 7)[1] – this translates into almost 500 000 people in Cape Town[2].

The problem lies with municipalities that do not recognize informal settlements as legal structures. As a result, municipalities do not plan, provide for and deliver services, which they are legally mandated to provide. Sanitation services are also linked to the delivery of other services through a matrix of services. Thus, proper sanitation facilities and services require the proper functioning of these other attendant services.

The lack of proper facilities and respective services has resulted in appalling living conditions for the residents of Khayelitsha, where one toilet can be used by as many as 100 people. There is, as a result, a very high prevalence of water borne diseases, parasites and gastroenteritis of infectious origin. Residents who have to make their way through unlit pathways at night to relieve themselves often become the victims of crime, which includes robbery, assault, rape and murder.

The City of Cape Town’s delivery of sanitation services thus far has been an affront to the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of the residents of Khayelitsha. The delivery of proper basic sanitation is a local government function as stipulated in The Water Services Act (Act 108 of 1997). The city has provided sanitation technologies in informal settlements that do not meet basic sanitation standards.

Campaigning for change

It is as a result of the above conditions that the Toilet Queues were held. The first Toilet Queue took place in Khayelitsha on 16 April 2011 where about 500 people queued for sanitation outside the local councilors’ offices. This Queue served as a build up event to the Queue that would take place on 27 April 2011 – Freedom Day – in Cape Town.

Over 2000 people attended the 27 April Toilet Queue. This was an astonishing number of people – and considerably more than we expected to support us. Supporters gathered for an interfaith service at St. George’s Cathedral (Cape Town), where figures such as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and activist Zackie Achmat spoke on the topic of basic sanitation. After the speeches, supporters marched through Cape Town city centre to Mayor Dan Plato’s offices to form a Toilet Queue, listen to community testimonies and hand over a petition (over 10 000 signatures) and memorandum. We make two demands in our memorandum:

1. Recognise – as a matter of urgency – the need for the development and implementation of adequate maintenance, monitoring, and coordination of existing sanitation services in Khayelitsha’s informal settlements. The City must develop, within its own structures, effective mechanisms for inter-sectoral coordination so as to ensure that the multiple departments involved in water and sanitation provision and monitoring are able to work together effectively to improve the living conditions of people in Khayelitsha. This will greatly and immediately contribute to improved health and safety.

2. Initiate a public consultation period during which an implementation plan and budget is developed to ensure that every household in Khayelitsha’s informal settlements has access to a basic sanitation and access to water within an agreed upon timeframe. This would include discussing which technologies currently being utilised do not meet Basic Sanitation standards and how to replace them. We, the undersigned, hereby offer assistance in any consultation process established to address the above challenges.

Government reaction

Both Queues were a success in that they mobilized large numbers of people to demand proper sanitation from their local representatives. However, the City of Cape Town has yet to release an official response to the Toilet Queue and memorandum – they have said that once they have studied the memorandum they will respond. However, responses from figures such as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the Democratic Alliance’s Cape Town mayoral candidate, Patricia de Lille, have been to question the SJC’s statistics – denial and misinformation. Instead of viewing civil society participation and protests as valuable contributions to building on the democratic experience, government officials, across the board, shun, deny and misinform.

The sad truth at the end of the day, however, is that the residents of Khayelitsha, and others around South Africa, are left out on the dirt heap of so many South African municipalities that are not delivering on their obligations.

Also check out:


Facebook: Social Justice Coalition

Twitter: @sjcoalition



Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. 2003. Strategic Framework for Water Services

(SFWS). 69pp.

Goldberg, K. 2009. The Water Dialogues: Cape Town Case Study.

All photo graphs credited to SJC.

[1] The City’s official figures are lower than those listed here as the city counts bucket toilets as comprising basic sanitation; the Water Dialogues report, however, does not classify bucket toilets as comprising basic sanitation.

[2] The national figure is approximately 10.5 million.

Water and sanitation an issue the poorest countries can’t afford to ignore

This was the message from End Water Poverty, and 350,000 World Walks for Water campaigners, to participants of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) yesterday, as we hosted an interactive side event at the civil society forum.

Doreen Wandera speaks to the press after the side event

With access to water and sanitation heavily impacting on gender equality, economic growth, food security, health and education, the global effort to reach the MDGs will be heavily compromised if the LDCs fail to address the water and sanitation crisis.

With 500 million of the LDC population having no access to sanitation, and 300 million without access to clean and affordable water, and the horrific impact this lack of access has especially on women, girls and marginalized communities, we told participants that they ignore water and sanitation at their peril.

Doreen Wandera, executive Director of the Ugandan Water and Sanitation Network (UWASNET), a key End Water Poverty member and member of the End Water Poverty Steering Committee, as well as a coordinator of the 50,000 who took part in the World Walks for Water in Uganda, gave a brilliantly received presentation setting out the challenges in Uganda, as well as the ways in which civil society is working to address the crisis.

This included leading the successful World Walks for Water campaign in Uganda alongside WaterAid Uganda, which was attended by the Water Minister who received a manifesto from Ugandan civil society.

Questions from the floor during the event covered areas including sustainability, measuring campaign success, African transboundary issues, the challenges of population growth and how the private sector should be involved in the challenge of delivering sanitation and water for all.

One comment from an East African participant was particularly poignant, as she outlined that “the girls from my community are just missing out on so much. They don’t even make it to school as they’re collecting water all day”. Water and sanitation has been shown to be a key gender issue, with millions of women and girls missing out on an education or an opportunity to work due to spending hours a day collecting water or caring for those ill with diarrheal diseases. Attendees of the event were shown our video urging action at the conference. The event also received coverage in the main conference's newsletter - which is distributed to the thousands of attendees.

Challenges remain at the LDC conference - with the draft Istanbul Programme for Action not finalised and at risk of being weak in ambition on water and sanitation, and without strong accountability measures built in. We're working hard - meeting delegations and media to push up the profile of the issue. Check back here for our progress and keep track of us on twitter too.

Monday, 9 May 2011

New Video - The World Walks for Water demands action!

Here is our new video celebrating the World Walks for Water campaign and calling on World Leaders meeting as part of the UN LDC-IV to make access to water and sanitation a priority in developing countries. Watch it and then show it to all your friends!

Make sure you are following End Water Poverty on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with all the happenings from the conference, also check back on this blog over the week to see reports from campaigners in Istanbul.

Acceleration, as well as dynamic tactics needed for LDC poverty alleviation

We're in Istanbul this week for an event with people all over the world, the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (#LDCIV). They've come to assess the progress of the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and by the end of the week, form a Programme of Action for how to ensure these countries alleviate poverty for their people and ensure economic growth and prosperity.

So far, Ban Ki-Moon and the leaders of Nepal and Turkey addressed the civil society forum yesterday, and the main opening session of the conference itself took place this morning. We met with the Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu and asked him to take urgent action, and told him all about the World Walks for Water and that 350,000 people had joined out call.

End Water Poverty is here to say that if countries want to make progress, they need to tackle the basics first and foremost. With preventable diarrhoeal diseases the biggest killer of children under five in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 4000 children dying globally every day - they did to sit up to the water and sanitation crisis and take action.

Further than the great humanitarian achievement stopping these deaths would be, it's also a sound investment for LDC governments and donors to make. As our members and supporters know, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation $9 is returned to the economy in health system savings and increased work output from the population. Emerging powers such as India have failed to take note at their peril - the World Bank estimates that they are losing 6.4% of their GNI as a direct result of the sanitation crisis there - in lost business, tourism and health system costs.

We're hosting and joining in with many events in Istanbul. Do read our manifesto for LDCs, come and find us for a chat in the civil society forum and follow us on twitter @endwaterpoverty.