Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Success at SWA High-Level Meeting

Credit: WaterAid/Demot Tatlow/Panos Pictures

 Sarah Blakemore is the International Campaign Coordinator at End Water Poverty HQ. She was in Washington to attend the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting

Just back from the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting where Ministers of Finance, Development and Water from 40 countries, along with policy-makers, multilateral organizations, development banks and End Water Poverty members met to make commitments to tackle the water and sanitation crisis.

After years of campaigning from End Water Poverty members including Crisis talks and the amazing 373,000-person strong World Walks for Water and Sanitation, Ministers from across Africa and Asia announced commitments that would provide 56 million people with safe drinking water and 78 million people with sanitation.

Rudy Amenga-Etego, from the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) represented civil society at the meeting, delivering a one minute statement on behalf of civil society across the world; calling for leaders to step up and show strong leadership and move from incremental progress to transformational change.

Ministers pledged to decrease open defecation by 15%, improve access to water by 5% and increase access to safe sanitation by 7% by 2014.

Specific country commitments also included:
  • Benin committed to increasing its budget allocations for 2013-2014 by 100% per year for basic sanitation.
  • Burkina Faso committed to allocating at least US$35m to water and sanitation annually and promised to eradicate open defecation by 2015.
  • Kenya pledged that a further 20 million people would gain access to drinking water and sanitation by 2015 and Nigeria promised to progressively increase the budget allocation for water and sanitation over the next three years.
  • The Government of Pakistan committed to enhancing access to adequate sanitation for 20 million people by 2015 to achieve its MDGs targets and 14.4 million people to reach 100% coverage for improved drinking water.
  • The Government of Rwanda committed to ensuring that, by 2017, all people in Rwanda will gain access to improved water and sanitation.
  • Zambia committed to an estimated 1,000 schools receiving appropriate WASH facilities and ensuring that 1,000 rural wards are open defecation free by 2014.
Donor countries responded by making commitments of their own:

  • The UK announced it would double the amount of people it intends to reach with access to Sanitation and Water from 30 to 60 million over the next two years.
  • USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced that USAID will join the Sanitation and Water for All partnership and promised $1million to support SWA’s most off-track countries.
  • The Australian Government announced it would join the SWA.
  • The Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen announced a new initiative between the Netherlands and UK to bring water and sanitation to an additional 10 million people in nine countries in West and Central Africa.
  • Germany committed to reaching 30 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa with water and sanitation by 2015.

The pledges made at this meeting are an outstanding success for EWP members around the world. The challenge now is to make sure world leaders keep their promises by on delivering the national plans on time to make these commitments a reality.

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