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.

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