Thursday, 19 April 2012

Update from the sector ministers meeting

Sarah Blakemore is the International Campaign Coordinator at End Water Poverty HQ. She is in Washington to attend the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting amongst others. Here, she tells us about the meeting of Water, Sanitation, Environment and Health Ministers from Africa and Asia that took place today ahead of the High Level Meeting.

Today I took part in the pre-meeting of ministers responsible for water and sanitation in developing countries ahead of tomorrow's Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting.

Ministers were there to agree a joint ministerial statement to be presented to the Finance and Development Ministers at the High Level Meeting tomorrow. The statement was called ‘A Global Step Change for Universal Access’ and lays out Minister’s requests for donors and other ministers, as well as their own commitments to ensure the achievement of these goals.

Lajana Manandhar (National Convenor, FANSA Nepal), Rolien Sasse (CEO, Simavi, Netherlands) and Rudy Amenga-Etego (CEO of the Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa and representative of ANEW) had travelled to Washington DC to represent civil society at the meeting.

Lajana gave a short but inspiring speech at the beginning of the meeting on the urgency of tackling the water and sanitation crisis. She described how women and girls are the hardest hit (with women bearing 70 percent of the burden of collecting water) and introduced a short film on the human costs of dirty water and poor sanitation.

She called on Ministers to include the following commitments from the End Water Poverty briefing:

  • Significantly more and better funding for water, sanitation and hygiene, targeted at the most vulnerable communities, to achieve universal access by 2020

  • The development and implementation of viable national plans for water and sanitation, including the recognition and operationalisation of the human right to water and sanitation,

  • Ensuring equity and sustainability is at the heart of all approaches so that WASH services are accessible to all including the most vulnerable communities and specifically for women and girls.

This film was also shown at the meeting urging Ministers to act:

Later John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana and newly appointed chair of the SWA partnership, addressed the meeting and underlined the need for governments to act urgently saying ‘The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach’.

It is hoped that tomorrow's meeting will be an important step towards achieving that goal.

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