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.

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