Thursday, 12 January 2012

Boosting of efforts and a new zeal: Expectations from SWA during 2012

Yakub Hossain is from Bangladesh and is the civil society representative on the steering committee of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) global partnership, sitting alongside government representatives, development banks and many other key organizations. He is the Deputy Director of VERC, Bangladesh, and the representative of the Freshwater Action Network - South Asia (FANSA) on the Sanitation and Water for All partnership.

In between two SACOSANs (South Asia Conference on Sanitation) held in Delhi in 2009 and Colombo in 2011 a total of 750,000 children died in South-Asia. This attributes to poor sanitation, water quality and hygiene practice level prevalent in the region. Reasons behind poor progress despite efforts made can be viewed as – lack of broad based political will with clear-cut directions, absence of policies that support the sector to make visible progress in terms of benefits, lack of long-term action plans and insufficient resource mobilization. Communities are also absent in the planning and implementation process resulting in a lack of sustainable improvements to the situation.

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is a global partnership between developing countries, donors, multilateral agencies, civil societies and development organizations committed to addressing all the above mentioned critical barriers to achieving universal and sustainable sanitation and drinking water access for everyone, with a an immediate focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As a member of the Steering Committee from the Civil Society Organizations in the South-Asia Region, I would like to see an upward trend in the national level achievement which contributes to all the countries in the region achieving the MDGs on water and sanitation.

This is not an easy task to elaborate within a few words! The first and foremost task of all the actors in the region ideally be a time bound and evidence based action plan supported by donors along with a strong and clear monitoring mechanism . Due to the effects of climate change , many of the countries in this region face innumerable loss in terms of assets and livelihood opportunities along with poor water and sanitation infrastructure. SWA needs to take a clear stand on this issue to reduce the suffering of these climate change victims. Diverse cultural contexts are also another point of concern in respect of equitable access to water and sanitation for many of the indigenous communities. The Sanitation and Water for All Partnership needs to bring this to the notice of the national governments in the region to ensure equity and justice.

Since 2012 is quite close to the MDG timeline, we need to boost up the collective efforts to fulfil water and sanitation commitments. This is a human rights issue. Government and Civil Society Organizations in the region need to work shoulder to shoulder on this. The SWA can bring attention to these issues and help to ensure that the required capacity is installed in the Government and Civil Society Organizations that will help in achieving the MDG.

To give my presence and participation in the SWA process a new zeal, I plan to be more active and vibrant in advocating the issues of critical concern. I want to reduce the sufferings of the people in this region and thus I need more and more support, encouragement, knowledge and guidance from the FANSA family and beyond.

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