Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Winners of the best Walks for Water and Sanitation photo competition revealed!

The moment has finally arrived…we’ve looked through every single one of the 600+ photos sent in from all over the world to our Flickr page of all your amazing walks for water and sanitation. There was some stiff competition this year, but we are now happy to announce the winners in the following categories: 

Winners - Largest amount of people in a photo

This photo from the Netherlands really impressed us because it really shows the huge number of children involved all gearing up at the start line of their walk!

We liked this photo from Tamil Nadu, India, because it shows the largest number of people AND the largest number of water carriers!

Winner – Most unusual location:

This photo of a walk in Sundarban, the world’s largest mangrove forest in the south west corner of Bangladesh, won the most unusual location category. We really liked the composition of the photo and the contrast of colours!

Winners – Best Slogan 

This photo from Zambia was one of the winners of the Best Slogan category. We felt that the central position of the slogan in this photo made it even more powerful and we also really like the clever use of rhyming to deliver an important message. 

This photo taken on one of the WASH-Net walks in Sierra Leone also won in the Best Slogan category. We thought it was a really good example of how campaigning on water and sanitation can be targeted during elections.

Winners - Best lobbying of a politician in a photo

This photo of the cast of Cirque du Soleil with the Mayor of Las Vegas at the starting line of their 5km run won our Best lobbying of a politician in a photo category. We really like how the Mayor is getting involved in the picture by posing with the cast ready to run!

This photo taken at the Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation walk outside the Ehime Mbano government headquarters in Imo State, Nigeria was also one of the winners of our Best lobbying of a politician in a photo. 

 In Uganda, walkers met with their Minister for Water and Environment, Hon.
Maria Mutagamba who gladly signed their civil society petition asking for a greater commitment to water and sanitation!

Winners - Most artistic photo

This photo from WASH-Network Berlin won in our Most artistic photo category. We felt the angle of the photo to make the jerry cans so big was very creative and made a statement about the scale of the water crisis.

This photo from the Busoga Trust in Uganda also won in our Most artistic photo category. The focus on the man in the foreground with the backdrop of the Walk for Water banner is very artistic. 

Winners - Most colourful photo

MARI India won in the Most colourful photo category for this photo of women walking for water and sanitation. We love the multicoloured feel that the colours of the women’s saris give the photo. 

This photo from Pakistan also won in our Most colourful photo category. We really like the way the girls colourful clothes contrast with the colours of the grass and sand.

Winners - Most inspiring photo

We love the young people’s enthusiasm for the World Walks for Water and Sanitation which comes across in this photo from Diorano- WASH coalition Madagascar, one of the winners of our Most inspiring photo category. 

This photo from FANSA-Tamilnadu was another winner in our Most inspiring photo category. We found the power of the women which comes across in this photo really inspiring!

Lastly, this photo from Liberia also won in our Most inspiring photo category. We felt the slogan shown in the photo really summed up the important message of the whole of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation camapign.

Let us know what you think of our winning photos!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

EWP's Campaigns Advisor reports back from Africa Water Week!

Olivier Germain is EWP's Campaigns Advisor. He was at Africa Water Week in Cairo last week following up on the commitments made at the SWA High Level Meeting. Here, he reports back:

Along with AfricaSan, the AWW is the biggest event focusing on WASH in Africa, and was attended by over 1,000 participants, bringing together over 30 African Ministers, donor agencies, research institutes, youth groups, the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

 This year was also an opportunity to commemorate 10 years of the African Ministers' Council on Water’s (AMCOW) existence, both looking back at what has been achieved and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

So what came out of these discussions?   The week was concluded with AMCOW's statement of key messages - rather than emerging with a new set of specific commitments, the underlying message was that it was now time “to implement past declarations on water and sanitation”, and the need for “translation into action and tangible benefits of existing political commitments”.  Several key documents were referred to such as the 2008 Sharm-el-Sheikh Declaration and the Africa Water Vision 2025.  However one glaring omission was the absence of reference to the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting commitments, made by over 30 African Ministers in Washington last month.   This was in stark contrast to the prominence of SWA during the week’s sessions and the numerous references made to the HLM commitments by Ministers in Cairo, pledging to honour these and accelerate progress towards achieving them.

This re-emphasises the need for close monitoring of political commitments and declarations to ensure visions and statements which events such as the AWW are so good at producing, do not remain just words but are acted upon and translate into increased and sustained access to water and sanitation for all.   Civil Society Organisations, including members of End Water Poverty, have a major role to play here, and this was clearly articulated in the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation’s (ANEW) closing remarks at the AWW stating “We call upon our Governments to ensure that all existing agreed plans and commitments are duly harmonized and implemented […] and commit ourselves to monitor and report on progress made by each country (at the SWA HLM)”.

Although, events such as the AWW represent significant opportunities to network, promote key findings and recommendations, and influence decision-makers, the rhetoric that comes out of final declarations is only of value if followed up and implemented.  AMCOW concluded with “Participants are called to resolve to put our words to action, to hold ourselves accountable to our pledges; to do less talk and walk the talk”. As CSOs we have a duty to take them up on their word and seize this opportunity.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Africa Water Week: "Now is the time to walk the talk"

Olivier Germain is End Water Poverty's Campaigns Advisor. He's currently at Africa Water Week in Cairo. Here he tells us about what's been happening so far:

The 4th Africa Water Week is taking place this year in Cairo, as the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) celebrates its 10 year anniversary.   The first two days were marked by significant pomp, with both the AMCOW Executive Committee General Assembly and opening sessions attended by over 20 African Ministers!  In front of a packed room of around 1000 people, including government officials, donor agencies and civil society representatives, AMCOW reflected on its 10 year existence.   Although most of the speeches from high officials were congratulatory and focused on successes such as the establishment of the Africa Water Facility, there was also a recognition that much was yet to be done to ensure every African citizen gains access to safe water and sanitation.

Water is the centre of economic growth.   What has been missing in Africa is commitment.  Now we have strong commitments to move forward” stated Mr. Bai-Mass Taal, the AMCOW Executive Secretary, who was re-elected in the role for another 4 years.   “As we are marching towards 2015, more is needed from all of us, especially African leaders” cautioned the 1st AMCOW President, while the newly elected AMCOW President, Dr Hesham Kandil, echoed what many now want to see when he said “Now is the time to walk the talk […] turning AMCOW’s vision into action.”    

Bold and ambitious statements such as those of Mr. Bash Kamara, the Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources, urging all African Ministers to pledge 6% of their GDP to the WASH sector, were a step in the right direction.  

And the Minister of Public Works in Liberia, Mr Woods, representing the Goodwill Ambassador for Water in Africa, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, proposed 4 key points: 
1) the need for greater decentralisation and regionalisation in the WASH sector 
2) sustained political commitments with prioritization on water and sanitation as the key to economic growth 3) the need to promote South-South exchanges
4) Water is life and therefore universal access must now be the goal going forwards

While these first two days were characterised by a series of high level speeches, the attention now turns to the more practical, interactive and detailed sessions of the week, tackling the issue of how to make all this happen.   

Yesterday saw a series of meetings on the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, starting with a review of the High Level Meeting (HLM) commitments made by African Ministers in Washington under a month ago.   During the CSO Forum, End Water Poverty (EWP) talked in more detail of the role CSOs can play in the establishment of proper and effective monitoring systems at national level to ensure the HLM commitments are implemented.   This was then followed by an interactive session led by WSSCC on how to communicate SWA messages to diverse groups.   It was refreshing to see that all through the conference, the Sanitation and Water for All partnership was being talked about and referenced, and African Ministers were re-stating that they would honour the commitments they made in Washington.

It is planned for key messages and action points to emerge from each of the sub-themes of the Africa Water Week  to be presented at the closing ceremony.   Let us hope some concrete steps are outlined and agreed upon to take forward, for as mentioned in the opening ceremony “No will is good without action” and “We all need to act now and collectively”.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

From the World Walks for Water and Sanitation to the High Level Meeting - making positive change happen!

Natasha Horsfield is End Water Poverty's Campaigns and Communications intern. Here she tells us all about her thoughts on the World Walks for Water and Sanitation and the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting which followed.
When I first began working on the World Walks for Water and Sanitation I was excited, but it was difficult to get a real sense of the scale of the campaign. Yet as the months went by and we planned and produced resources for the campaign, we heard about an increasing number of walks which were being planned around the world and the number of people walking crept up every week. As I contacted our partners in various countries across Africa, Asia and Europe to find out more information about their plans for their walks, I began to form a better picture of the creativity and reach of the campaign and my excitement grew as March and the campaign dates approached...and then finally people started walking!

The stories and photos began to flood in from around the world and at last I truly saw the global reach of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation! Children and teachers, women and grass-roots farmers, local activists and politicians, North and South; thousands of people (373,044 of them to be exact!) from every walk of life joined together with the shared goal of making their governments take action to achieve water and sanitation for all - and it has been really inspirational to witness! People walked to raise their voices about water and sanitation issues in their local communities, but also crucially to ask their Ministers, in both developing and donor countries, to attend the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting in Washington, where they would have the opportunity to make firm commitments on providing water and sanitation for all and to build essential alliances allowing this to be achieved.

Three weeks after the World Walks for Water and Sanitation when the High Level Meeting finally came around, the Ministerial attendance was brilliant, with ministers from Uganda and the UK, Nigeria, Nepal and the Netherlands, Togo and Timor-Leste, and many countries in-between all attending! Yet the World Walks for Water and Sanitation was about more than just attendance, it was also about getting them to make the kind of concrete commitments that result in real political change, and we were not disappointed!

At the pre-High Level Sector Ministers meeting, Ministers for Water and Sanitation, Environment and Health collectively responded to our calls by committing to decrease open defecation by 15%, improve water service access by 5% and increase access to safe sanitation services by 7%, which if implemented will provide 56 million people with safe drinking water and 78 million people with sanitation over the next two years. At the High Level Meeting Kenya committed to providing an additional 20 million people with access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. Benin’s minister committed to increasing its budget allocations for 2013-2014 by 100% per year for basic sanitation and Nigeria promised to progressively increase the budget allocation for water and sanitation over the next three years.

On the donor side the UK has doubled their commitment to reach 30 million people with water and sanitation to 60 million over the next three years and Germany has committed to reaching 30 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2015, including better targeting funding to the poorest and most vulnerable. The Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen also 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, and in all, the Netherlands intends to scale up its assistance to reach 25 million more people globally over the next four years.

I was blow away by the scale of global mobilisation achieved by the World Walks for Water and Sanitation and am extremely proud to have been a part of it. However, the real reward for everyone who raised their voices for change and walked in solidarity with those who walk everyday to access water and inadequate sanitation has been these commitments and the positive change which happened and will continue to happen as a result! For everyone who took part, this is confirmation that by coming together we can make positive change happen, but we mustn’t stop there. We must ensure that the promises made are kept and that more people are able to access clean water and sanitation as a result, and now is the time to do so!