Wednesday, 22 June 2011

End Water Poverty - Stateside!

Fleur Anderson, End Water Poverty’s International Campaign Coordinator, has just spent a week in the United States with some of our members there. She answers a few questions about the visit:

Why did you go to America?

As our blog readers might know, the global End Water Poverty international campaign is made up of national campaigns for water and sanitation, operating in the US, Liberia, UK, Nepal, and many, many others. By joining together we hope to make the changes at the international and national levels that will end the water and sanitation crisis. I went to visit End Water Poverty members in America and spent time understanding their challenges and priorities and this helps me strategize how they can play their part in the global campaign.

Who did you meet?

There are 14 End Water Poverty member organisations in America but I couldn’t meet them all, sadly! I met with CARE, the WASH Advocacy Initiative, Water for People,, WaterAid America, PATH, RESULTS, and our partners at the Sanitation and Water for All secretariat and UNICEF. Alongside Tom Baker from Tearfund, a UK based member, I enjoyed presenting the End Water Poverty story to the Interaction WASH working group which includes people from many more organizations.

What did you learn?

As with every country there is a real variety in the way that organizations work with supporters and the amount of time they give to doing their advocacy to US politicians and internationally. As everywhere, times are tough and budgets are under threat so US campaigners are doing a really important job of showing how important it is for the US to fund water and sanitation projects. Many water organizations in America are not yet complementing their project work with campaigning work, but increasingly this is seen to be important. The more we can agree that we want to work our way out of a job because everyone has water and sanitation, and that governments are seen as partners with communities and with NGOs to achieve this, then the more advocacy will be done by organizations in the US, and I was affirmed in the role of End Water Poverty and actions like the World Walks for Water in enabling this to happen.

What were you asked about?

Outside our main issues, I was often asked about how much we campaign on the private sector, food security and wider water issues such as water resources management. We need to be focused in our work, but this left me wanting to know what we should be saying in these areas and whether End Water Poverty has something to offer to these debates.

What are some next steps?

Some people I met are keen to join End Water Poverty’s media forum to increase our media capacity. The WASH working group at Interaction will be taking forward plans for coordinated action for the Crisis Talks in the Fall, for World Water Day in the US next March, and for making the demands of ordinary people heard at the High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water for All in Washington DC in April next year.

I am really encouraged by the conversations I had and getting to know so many dynamic and committed campaigners. The shocking lack of water and sanitation affects so many millions of people around the world, causes so many children’s deaths and is holding back development in so many countries. Increasing action in the US is really needed if we're to end the global crisis.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Drive to 2015

A new initiative, the Drive to 2015, launched today at the United Nations, aimed at the ambitious target of reaching the sanitation target of the MDGs - the most off-track development issue in the world.

You can find out more about the new drive on the special website.

And do take a look at the great op-ed written by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Orange:
Missing: Proper Toilets for 2.6 Billion

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Do You Know Your Poo IQ?

Lisa Schechtman, from End Water Poverty member WaterAid in America, shares with us a great creative idea for campaigning, and livening up a conference at the same time. Check out how she and others organized a sanitation related scavenger hunt at this week's Global Health Council Conference:

We’ve all been to conferences. You know, the kind where you spend entire days in a hotel without ever going outside, running from one session to another, wondering what you will learn and who you will see. Most times, they are relatively useful ways to continue dialogue about an emerging approach to international development, global health, or capacity building. Often they also help align advocacy agendas. This year’s annual
Global Health Council Conference is one such example.

But this year, WaterAid and other partners in the Washington, DC-based Health-WASH Network decided to something different from the usual panel discussion.

We all know that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are critical health issues, underlying child survival, undernutrition, and efficacy of treatment for HIV/AIDS. But WASH is rarely on the agenda at global health conferences.

So, we worked with fellow End Water Poverty member, PATH, along with Population Services International, John Snow Inc., WASH Advocacy Initiative, and more, to increase awareness among global health NGOs of how WASH can advance their objectives.

The result of our brainstorming was a scavenger hunt, titled “What’s Your Poo IQ?” Five short questions on a postcard inserted into all conference packets will lead participants around the exhibition area to partners’ booths, incentivize their attendance at the only WASH-focused panel of the week, and remind them to wash their hands after using the loo!

The questions ask hunters to list the top three killers of children aged one month to five years (of course, if you know your Poo IQ, you know that #1 and #2 are WASH-related!); to identify ways healthcare workers can promote WASH; to think through ways WASH improves quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS; and to remind themselves of basic hygiene practices we should all be doing every day.

Our goal in asking people to learn their Poo IQ is to ensure people focused on other areas of global health think about the impact of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and lack of hygiene on their own work, and hopefully to increase WASH-related partnerships. But their goal in participating may be something entirely different: anyone want to win a brand new Apple iPad?

For more information on the role of the health sector in improving WASH around the world, check out WaterAid’s new report, The Sanitation Problem: What Can and Should the Health Sector Do?

And to prove that you know your Poo IQ, find us at the Global Health Conference this week or, for those not in Washington, DC, comment on this post with answers to some of the questions above!

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

Thursday, 2 June 2011

New Publication printed celebrating the World Walks for Water

Following on from the huge success of the World Walks for Water campaign on World Water Day back in March we have been busy at End Water Poverty HQ ensuring that everyone hears that 350,000 people took action and walked in solidarity with those who do not have access to safe water and sanitation!

We produced an amazing film showing what happened and why, and now we have printed a World Walks for Water brochure including an A2 fold out map showing all the 75 countries where walks took place! The other pages detail why we walked for water featuring powerful case studies and imagery alongside details of steps that governments should take to put an end to the crisis and pointers for those wanting to get more involved in the campaign.

From the brochure you can learn about the amazing 50,000 person strong walk in Uganda, how politicians in the Netherlands, the UK, the Philippines, Belgium, Ghana and more took part and made strong promises to act and how 26,000 school children from 165 schools walked the equivalent of four times around the world because their peers in other countries have to miss school when they walk for water. Amazing!

This brochure has been printed in both English and French and has already been used to lobby world leaders at the LDC conference last month. All coalition members will be receiving copies in the post soon and in the meantime you can view PDFs online in English here and French here. If you are not part of a member organization but would like to receive a copy please get in touch; the fold out map makes a lovely poster to display in your office or home!