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, water.org, 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.

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