Friday, 30 November 2012

WASH CSOs launch the Keep Your Promises campaign in Uganda!

Doreen Wandera, Director of UWASNET (Ugandan Water and Sanitation Network), tell us about the launch of Keep Your Promises in Uganda

On 23rd November 2012,  the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) in partnership with WASH United and Water Aid Uganda joined the rest of the world to launch the Keep Your
Promises Campaign in Uganda at St Peters Primary School. The event was held to coincide with the same week as World Toilet Day and we aimed to highlight commitments made by the Government on sanitation in schools and to hold them to account on these promises.

The promises!

Participants at the event called for the implementation of the universal Primary Education Policy which states that :

  • each school in Uganda must have separate toilet facilities for boys and girls at a ratio of 1:40 pupils per toilet facility
  • there should be separate toilet facility for female and male teachers, wash rooms for girls and urinals for boys.

The campaign also called for the fulfilment of the 2011 presidential and local leaders' manifestos who pledged to make sanitation and water their priority. Kampala Capital City Authority ( KCCA ) this year
promised to increase the number of public toilets in the city as well as make them easily accessible and affordable. We called on them to keep this promise. We also talked about the promises made by the three key ministries in charge of sanitation, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water and Environment and Ministry of Education and Sports, who have committed to make sanitation a funding priority by contributing to the national sanitation budget line.

The campaign event

The campaign was launched by the Principle Education official Ms Santa Ajok on behalf of the state Minister of Education. In her speech she said that Uganda needs the right strategies and concerted efforts for these commitments to be realised.

The CSOs also presented a petition to the Government supported by over 300 signatures from
the civil society, communities and school pupils calling for these promises to be kept! They called for more funding towards water and sanitation especially in schools, responsiveness and targeting of funds to where they are most needed and improved transparency and accountability in the provision of WASH services in the country. They also called upon the Government to make sanitation and water a priority beyond 2015.

And that wasn't all!

We also held a big public walk to draw attention to your Keep Your Promises campaign. Community members and school pupils holding placards flanked by a band walked 6 kilometres to highlight the issues and demand Government action on water and sanitation service delivery in the country. Key messages on the placards read:

I can keep my promise, why can’t you keep yours?

We are tired of queuing. We need more toilets. 

Access to water and sanitation is human right.

We definitely drew lots of attention during our launch and we plan to keep pushing our decision makers to keep their promises so that more people in Uganda have access to safe sanitation and drinking water!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

“A partnership like SWA is very complex but we are unified by our goal”

Olivier Germain is End Water Poverty's Campaigns Advisor. He attended the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership Meeting in South Africa earlier this month. Here he gives his reflections:

The first ever Sanitation and Water for All Partnership Meeting came to a close this week but injected some renewed momentum into the initiative. Sure, a lot of questions still remain unanswered and it was sometimes hard to reconcile the breadth of opinions and views on the way forward. However this is to be expected from a partnership encompassing such a wide variety of actors, such a plethora of expertise, and such a range of skills. The goal of reaching universal access to sanitation and water is a complex one and will require different tools and approaches to succeed. And it is this goal of providing safe clean water and sanitation to everyone that unites all the partners to succeed.

Capitalising on the strengths and successes of the partnership

Whereas agreement was hard to come by on certain issues, there was consensus that at the global level, the political dialogue and attention generated by the partnership through the High Level Meetings was something to be proud of. The growth of the partnership to just under 90 members in the space of just a couple of years, bringing on board more developing countries, donors, research institutes and civil society organisations, is testimony to the trust and belief in SWA’s vision. The HLM commitments made by governments and developing partners have provided a focus for driving the sector forward, accelerating progress, and advocating for transformational change.

Proof of success will lie at the national level
Yet, much remains to be done to translate the promise of the commitments into tangible results on the ground; for the pledges and decisions within the sector and country statements to deliver accelerated access to water and sanitation in practice. And the key to this surely lies in replicating the synergies, pooled resources and concerted actions on the front line – that is at national level and below.   The dialogue between partners, the matching of resources with demand, and the exchange of information and best practices has to take place at country level. SWA and its partnership approach needs to be embedded in national WASH sector processes.

Moving Forward
This can only be realised if partners truly demonstrate, not in words but in actions, what they bring to the table. The focus has to be on what members can contribute, with Developing Country Government’s taking the lead.  As Achille Kangni from Benin declared during the meeting “Si il n’y a pas une dynamique au niveau national il ne se passera rien” (If there is no action and momentum at national level, nothing will happen). Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are ready to step up to the plate and redouble their efforts to see the promises made in Washington just over 6 months ago deliver life-saving changes to communities around the world. CSOs, during the meeting, pledged to play a key role in raising awareness of SWA and HLM commitments among citizens, the media and parliamentarians to increase understanding of the partnership and thereby focus attention and resources towards jointly making progress.   Furthermore, CSOs have the legitimacy, passion and skills to support the partnership in monitoring this progress, contribute technical resources where needed, use their coordination power to bring actors together, and ensure that the voice of the communities the partnership aims to support is heard.   So now is the time to regroup and consolidate, to make progress at the national level, for all SWA constituencies to focus on what they bring to the partnership and to deliver.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Keep Your Promises in Pakistan

Syed Shah Nasir Khisro, National Convenor of FANSA-Pakistan tells us about their plans for launching Keep Your Promises around World Toilet Day

Our planned activities will start with a poster and leaflet distribution day this Saturday through which we will make sure that as many people as possible know about the Keep Your Promises campaign. We will encourage local communities to raise their voices for improved sanitation services and call on the government to keep to their commitments.

Following this, campaigners will hold a series of meetings with government officials to call on them to approve the provincial sanitation policy and work towards implementation. At the same time, we will hold seminars in both rural and urban communities to explain the importance of World Toilet Day and encourage local people to make their voices heard and advocate for improved latrine coverage.

On World Toilet Day itself, we are excited about our plans to establish a demo latrine at a place where people defecate in the open. We will talk with school students and community members who normally defecate in the open and discuss the health risks of this practice, which helps the spread of diseases such as diarrheoa, cholera and bilharzia, and the benefits of using latrines instead. We will call on our government to work to end the practice of open defecation and to keep its promises for improved latrine coverage.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Keep Your Promises is launched in Zambia!

Jackson Mwenya, Executive Coordinator of VAREN in Zambia writes about the launch of the Keep Your Promises campaign

We launched the Keep the Promises campaign in Luapula province in Zambia at the end of August and called on our politicians to keep to their commitments on sanitation and water. We specifically called on them to keep the promises that the Minister of Local Government and Housing and the Minister of Finance and National Planning made during the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting in April 2012 and we focused our activities on selected districts which are off track in achieving these targets.

Lack of access to safe water and sanitation in Zambia has greatly affected Luapula province. This area has extremely low levels of rural access to WASH services and has received little attention from donors compared to other provinces. There is still a gap between communities and government hindering dialogue on issues of water and sanitation challenges. Communities have not been given a platform to tell their leaders about the issues and leaders do not communicate with the people to find out about the challenges they are facing.

This problem has been addressed with the Keep Your Promises campaign, which has brought together local people, community based organisations and faith based organisations to raise awareness of the importance of local people's participation in local and national governance and of their right to monitor government performance against promises.

To start with, CSOs visited and interviewed local community members to tell them about the campaign and to find out what they think Members of Parliament and government officials should be doing to improve their access to safe sanitation and water. We spoke to women, children and disabled people and ensured that they led on this initiative and had key roles in the campaign.

CSOs were then called for an awareness meeting at which the government’s commitments were reviewed and discussed before the launch.

The day before the launch, a  live radio discussion was broadcast on KFM Community Radio Station during which two CSO representatives gave information about the government's commitments on sanitation and water and the areas where they are off track in keeping these promises and reaching their targets. We invited listeners to come to the launch the next day to hear directly  from government representatives.

Children played a key part in the launch day and the Anglican Boys Brigade and Majorettes stayed for the whole of the launch event! Children from Our Lady of Mercy School run by the Sisters of Mercy
were part of the advocacy team as they marched and sang and then presented a poem to call for safe water and better sanitation for all. It was so amazing!

Chief Chisunka who is the Chairperson of all Chiefs in Luapula province had this to say
during the launch:

"As a Chairperson of chiefs in the province, I am fully convinced that everyone in our province can have access to safe water and good sanitation because this is a province with a lot of water bodies such as Lake Mweru, Lake Bangweulu and Luapula river. I am calling on the government and especially our Members of Parliament to  ensure that water problems are resolved not only here in town but also in rural communities because water is life."

The Managing Director of Luapula Water and Sewerage Company, Mr. Sebastian Chilekwa added:

"Access to safe water in Luapula is bad because currently as a company we can only manage to service12% leaving 88% unserviced. The only solution to the problem is massive infrastructure investment by the government because these challenges are due to inadequate and dilapidated infrastructures. We have all these water bodies but without investment nothing can be done. That's why communities need to be proactive and lobby to their members of parliament for adequate sector financing."

Monday, 5 November 2012

Hanan El-Amin Muddathir tells us about her organisation's plans for Keep Your Promises Hearings in Sudan!

Sudan has signed and committed to achieve the MDGs, and have committed to the eThekwini Declaration and Sharm el Sheikh Declaration. However, indicators show that, despite efforts to reach people with water, sanitation, and hygiene in all of Sudan especially in the rural areas, these commitments are mostly still off track.

On World Toilet Day 2012, the Environmental Initiative Organization for Sustainable Development will be taking part in Keep Your Promises and organising Hearings. These Hearings will be a series of meetings with the Technical Advisory Committee in water and sanitation, municipalities and media actors to introduce the Keep Your Promises campaign and raise awareness of the commitments our government and other decision makers have made.

There will also be a workshop on World Toilet Day organised by civil society organisations and targeting a number of different stakeholders. At this workshop, issues of concern will be highlighted to the media, the public and decision and policy makers. The Keep Your Promises petition will also be circulated at this workshop.

Over the past few months, Random Assessment surveys have been conducted to find out the number of open defecation areas in North Kordofan State and Monitoring visits have been carried out to discover the number of drainage & sewage treatment stations, and domestic discharge systems in Khartoum State. In this way, we are monitoring the progress our government is making to keep its commitments and ensuring that decision makers know they will be held to account on promises.

Our message to the decision and policy makers: Please Keep Your Promises, and be committed enough. CSOs and the public have the right to hold you accountable.  So let us all work together for better decision making and sustainable development.

Hanan El-Amin Muddathir
Chairperson for Environmental Initiative Organization for Sustainable Development (EnvI), Sudan