Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The World Walks for Water and Sanitation 2013

Join thousands of campaigners walking to demand that politicians keep their promises on water and sanitation

We are calling on you to become part of a global movement for change taking place on and around World Water Day 2013 by joining this year’s World Walks for Water and Sanitation! From 16 to 24 March thousands of people around the world will walk together to call on their political leaders to keep the promises they have made to end the sanitation and water crisis, and we want you to join them!

This crisis means that 2.5 billion people still live without a safe toilet and 783 million people remain without access to clean water. Poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water mean children miss school and 2,000 die needlessly every day from disease caused by contaminated water.

Earlier this year, over 380,000 people in more than 70 countries from Nigeria to Nepal took part in the World Walks for Water and Sanitation to demand political leaders take action to improve access to safe sanitation and clean water. Campaigners used their voices to ask their Development and Finance Ministers to attend the crucial Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting in Washington DC and to come ready to commit to real action to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis. This resulted in big success, with an unprecedented number of Ministers from 40 countries attending the meeting and making strong commitments including to allocate at least US$35m to water and sanitation annually and eradicate open defecation by 2015 in Burkina Faso and the Netherlands committing to scale up its assistance to reach 25 million more people with clean water and sanitation globally over the next four years.

Decision makers have made promises locally, nationally, regionally and globally to get clean water and safe sanitation to the world’s poorest countries and communities. We welcome this progress but too many promises remain off track or unfulfilled, so this year it’s up to you to hold your leaders to account on the promises they have made. You can do this by joining the World Walks for Water and Sanitation 2013, which this year is part of the year long Keep Your Promises Campaign. However big or small your walk you can take the opportunity to ask your leaders about progress on their commitments and to demand action to ensure they keep their promises and improve access to clean water and sanitation.

How you can get involved

We want as many people as possible to walk in solidarity with the women and children forced to walk long distances each day just to collect water and find somewhere to go to the toilet – and to tell governments to change this by keeping their promises on sanitation and water! We’re asking you to either organise or join a Walk for Water and Sanitation between 16 to 24 March 2013. You can get involved no matter who you are, whether you’re a university, school, youth group, NGO, Civil Society Organisation or a company. Your walk can be long or short and take place anywhere with any amount of people!

Make it fun and exciting by dressing up as taps and toilets, singing and dancing and inviting celebrities but don’t forget to make it political! The campaign demand you focus on is up to you - invite politicians along, walk to their offices or present a petition to decision makers to put pressure on them to stick to their commitments and take action to end the water and sanitation crisis.

To find out more about how you can get started and organise your Walk for Water and Sanitation, take a look at our brand new campaign toolkit. It’s packed full of information, ideas and tips for how to make your walk a success and have the biggest political impact possible.

The new website will also be launched soon where you will be able to register your walk and access more resources on how to make your walk a big success. Until then visit the Keep Your Promises website for information on promises made by political leaders.

For more information take a look at the toolkit, or contact Natasha Horsfield on

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Advocacy and campaigning for sanitation in Switzerland on World Toilet Day

Marco Daniel is the Water Policy Advisor at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation. Here, he tell us about the launch of Keep Your Promises in Switzerland:

On World Toilet Day 2012, End Water Poverty (EWP) launched its Keep Your Promises campaign (KYP) requesting politicians around the globe in public hearings to stick to the promises they have made on sanitation and hygiene. Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation is a steering committee member of EWP and therefore, on World Toilet Day, called the Swiss Federal Council to account on its promises.

Switzerland decided in 2011 to increase the funding for development cooperation to 0.5% of the gross domestic income and during the pilot phase 2011/12 it attributed a great share of this extra budget to water and sanitation projects. On World Toilet Day, Helvetas asked the Swiss government (notably the federal council for Foreign and Economic Affairs) to continue to attribute at least 100 million extra Swiss Francs per year for water and sanitation development projects in rural areas in 2013 and beyond, highlighting the importance of water and sanitation for poverty reduction and the great economic and social benefits of investments in the sector.

Our demand has been taken up by several major Swiss media outlets on and around the World Toilet Day and we are currently waiting for an official response from the Swiss government.

On the same day, Helvetas campaigners symbolically blocked public toilets in most major Swiss cities. Thereby Helvetas raised awareness amongst the Swiss public that 2.5 billion people around the globe still lack access to an adequate sanitation and hygiene. Helvetas water experts were interviewed in major Swiss newspapers about global sanitation and hygiene challenges and the Helvetas toilet blocking campaign was taken up by at least ten major Swiss media outlets and fostered an interesting public discussion on the issue.

Let’s hope that these actions will help water, sanitation and hygiene to remain high on the Swiss development agenda (both of the government and the Swiss public) and additional resources are made available to tackle sanitation and hygiene challenges and give more people access to decent sanitary facilities and encourage safe hygienic behaviour.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Young people in Liberia launch Keep Your Promises

Liberia Youth WASH Coalition is a group of youth-led organisations geared towards campaigning for youth recognition and participation in minimizing water sanitation and hygiene related challenges. Here, James Koryor, their Inter-Sector Coordinator tell us about their launch of Keep Your Promises in Liberia:

In commemoration of World Toilet Day 2012 in Liberia, the Liberia Youth WASH Coalition and partners organized a Keep Your Promises Hearing in New Kru Town.

The Hearing brought together over 200 participants including representatives from the Government Ministry, CSOs, local officials, women and youth groups as well as students and other stakeholders to discuss and put forth concrete recommendations. 

We aimed to remind the government of Liberia and other decision makers to keep all of their promises and work towards achieving universal access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water. We wanted to create a platform where citizens could interact with decision makers thus reminding them to keep all of their promises made in ensuring safe water and sanitation are accessible to all. 

Importantly, we also planned this Hearing to campaign for youth recognition and participation in tackling the sanitation and water crisis.

The meeting started with a presentation and was followed by speeches by some of the participants. We also had a question and answer segment to discuss government commitments and how we can ensure these commitments are kept and many  young people asked insightful and challenging questions to the decision makers. Finally, we screened a documentary to further highlight the  water and sanitation issues in Liberia to all decision makers present.

261 people signed the KeepYour Promises petition at the Hearing to call on our government to keep its promises on sanitation and water.

The Hearing was covered by both the print and electronic media including the National Radio Station ELBC, SKY TV, SKY FM, Daily Observer News Paper, Inquirer News Paper and the Women Voices News Paper. We definitely made our voices heard!