Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Zambia walks for water and sanitation!

Jennifer Williams is the Campaigns Officer at End Water Poverty and a coordinator of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation.

When I woke up yesterday in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, I was full of anticipation! I was here to attend the World Walks for Water and Sanitation event organised by the NGO WASH Forum, including WaterAid Zambia and End Water Poverty member ROCS.

For the past 8 months, I have been sitting at the EWP HQ in London working on the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign. I have been producing toolkits, posters and country snapshots and chatting with civil society organisations across the world about their plans for the walks. Now, the World Walks for Water and Sanitation week is in full swing and we're all delighted that an incredible 359,000 people in over 65 countries are walking to demand political action to get clean water and adequate sanitation to the poorest communities. The numbers are fantastic and, as photos reach us from across the globe, we have started to see the campaign coming to life! However, attending this event in Lusaka was to be my first real experience of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation in action!

And it didn't disappoint! From the moment I arrived at the starting point in Northmead to see hundreds of people in matching campaign t-shirts, to the amazing police band that led us on our walk and the dancing and singing that accompanied it, I was delighted to be part of it. As we marched down the busiest road in Lusaka, Great East Road, drivers slowed down to read our banners which included messages such as "Invest wisely, invest in water" and "Show your commitment to WASH". Pedestrians even danced alongside us as we progressed!

We definitely grabbed attention and raised awareness!

When we reached Arcades shopping centre, a representative of the Minister of Lusaka was there to hear our messages. We gathered to watch a play by a local drama group on the negative impact that lack of accessible, clean drinking water can have on
family life, particularly when men object to their wives being out of the house all day collecting water. We then heard a poem by local school children telling us that they would take a stand against the crisis - incredibly inspiring! And the final highlight was a statement by the Minister to assure us she had heard our voices and believed water and sanitation deserved more attention. Great to hear!

Overall, a thought-provoking, inspiring and exciting day which showed me why the World Walks for Water and Sanitation is so successful in bringing people together and getting our voices heard on the water and sanitation crisis!

Here, Mubu from ROCS tells us why he is walking:

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