High-level Meeting offers hope on sanitation and water

April 27, 2010

At the first ever High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water held on Friday 23rd April in Washington DC, Ministers and policy makers from 30 countries agreed on a joint statement that included commitments to:

  • Work through the new Sanitation and Water for All partnership to increase political prioritisation, resource mobilisation and aid effectiveness.
  • Work together to improve targeting of resources to ensure more gets to low-income countries and the poorest communities.
  • Set up a new funding mechanism to better support the poorest countries with the weakest capacities to develop national plans.

In addition, some countries made additional individual pledges. Bangladesh committed to spending an extra $200m over the next 5 years, Senegal an extra $24m per year. Many others, including Ghana, Liberia and Ethiopia, committed to raising domestic budgets to meet regional commitments – for example African countries are jointly committed to spend 0.5% of GNI on sanitation by the eThekwini Declaration, which was signed in 2008.

Yakub Hossain, Convener of Freshwater Action Network Bangladesh said:

“We needed countries to get together and raise the bar of ambition, so this is an important first step in providing services that have the potential to prevent 2.2 million child deaths every year.”

Yet in contrast to the commitments made by a number of developing countries, there were few specific targets from donors to increase resources to the poorest countries, despite a strong appeal from African and Asian Water ministers.

Prof. Edward Kairu, Chairman of ANEW added: “People cannot drink promises, so the real test is whether today’s announcements will be translated into action on the ground. We need to put the meat on the bones of this agreement with clear plans and new money. Only then will we really begin to see progress in the form of fewer children dying, more girls in school, and communities able to work themselves out of poverty.”

With announcements on child and maternal health due at this June’s G8, and a major UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September, WaterAid’s Head of Policy, Henry Northover, said it was time to make access on sanitation and water a global priority: “The launch of the Sanitation and Water for All initiative is a chance to move away from worthy expressions of concern to action.  We need to see this renewed commitment flow through to services for the poorest of the poor.”

The UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS), produced by the WHO and UNICEF, shows that only 42% of aid given to water and sanitation actually goes where it is most needed – to low income countries. For example, between 2006 and 2008 Jordan received $500 in aid for every person without access to safe water, while Chad received just $3. Further, only 16% goes to ‘basic services’ – interventions serving the poorest people – up from 11% from five years ago.

The Report also showed that despite diarrhea being the second biggest killer of children under five, funding for water and sanitation – which could prevent 88% of these deaths – has declined as a share of overall aid (6.3% to 4.7%).



White House turned into a slum to highlight global sanitation crisis

April 23, 2010

By WaterAid America

White House in center of slum – WaterAid photo

White house in a slum

Montage created by Saddington & Baynes for WaterAid and End Water Poverty

Washington, DC – One of the world’s most recognizable buildings has been given a shocking makeover by international charity WaterAid and global campaign group End Water Poverty.

While this scene might seem horrific, for millions across Africa and the developing world this is their life

Professor Edward Kairu

Gone are the immaculate White House lawns, in their place a squalid otherworldly scene where children collect water from a filthy garbage-strewn water hole and long lines form at the standpoint.

Except that this isn’t another world. Having to use a contaminated and potentially fatal water source is a daily reality for 884 million people. Then there are the 2.6 billion who have no access to a toilet.

“While this scene might seem horrific, for millions across Africa and the developing world this is their life,” said Professor Edward Kairu, Chair of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation. “They do not have the luxury of even one toilet or clean water running from a tap. This lack of these basic necessities has a huge impact on the health, education and economic prosperity of millions of the world’s poorest people.”

The makeover took place to mark the first ever High Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water which takes place in Washington today. At this meeting Ministers and policy makers from 30 developed and developing countries have the opportunity to commit to financial and political action to tackle this forgotten crisis.

According to Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive: “We have an historic meeting that can deliver real results if the right decisions get made. Decisions that could stop millions of children dying from diarrhea, free up hospital beds, give girls in particular the chance to get an education and mothers the opportunity to earn a living instead of having to walk hours to fetch water.”

“There is no doubt that if ministers and leaders had to endure these conditions in their own backyard they would take immediate action. Today they have the opportunity to do so and help bring an end to this scandalous crisis.”

Water and sanitation crisis in Africa

April 15, 2010

With over 2.6 billion people worldwide living without access to improved sanitation facilities and nearly 900 million people not receiving their drinking-water from improved water sources. The efforts of achieving the Millennium Development Goal 7.C (to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation) are in peril.

In Africa, the water and sanitation crisis is mainly rooted in poverty, power and inequality and not in physical availability; access to water is therefore a major concern to most African countries. It is a crisis of governance and thus governance reform must be a key pillar of any strategic approach towards addressing the problem. A good number of countries lack   specific government agencies directly charged with responsibility for sanitation thus leading to the sad neglect of the sector. Responsibilities are often unclear, with several different government agencies being responsible for water supply. Water governance is therefore a complex issue that involves a wide range of skills, institutions and actors.

The Johannesburg summit in 2002 set a target of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015, more than 300 million Africans still lack access to safe drinking water and 14 countries on the continent suffer from water scarcity. Out of 55 countries in the world with domestic water use below 50 litres per person per day (the minimum requirement set by the World Health Organization; the minimum requirement set by most African countries is 20 litres per person per day), 35 are in Africa. Almost half of all Africans suffer from one of six main water-related diseases.

In order to make progress in the water sector as in other sectors, Sub-Saharan Africa needs both institutional development and investment finance and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in water supply and sanitation, the number of people served must be more than double, from 350 million in 2000 to 720 million in 2015. Even then, some 200 million would still remain un-served. The expected annual cost of meeting the MDG target for water is between US$1.7 and 2.1 billion, and just as much is likely to be needed for sanitation. Most countries are undertaking WSS sector reforms, and some have achieved good progress in expanding access to services and improving operating performance.

The average per capita water availability in the region is about 5,300 cubic meters – which is moderate by world standards, but much of the region is arid with highly variable rainfall. Due to lack of well managed water-storage infrastructure, water-related services, irrigation, water supply, and hydropower are much less prevalent than in other parts of the world. For example, only 3.6 percent of the region’s total cropland is irrigated. Sub Saharan Africa has an extraordinary density of international river basins and successful regional cooperation to develop and manage infrastructure and water flows in these basins promises huge benefits.

Weak governance is as a result a key contributory factor to poor resource management and service delivery. While it is growing, the role and space for CSO and citizens engagement in ensuring appropriate service delivery varies from country to country. CSOs and citizens are usually unable to effectively demand accountability due to lack of information and know-how on engagement procedures. While the continent seeks additional investment for development, much investment is required to strengthen the voice and role of the CSOs.

The African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW) is an autonomous Africa-wide platform which aims to ensure that the diverse voices of African civil society organizations on water and sanitation are represented and heard in the development and implementation of Water and Sanitation plans and policies. ANEW promotes dialogues, learning and cooperation on Water and Sanitation issues

ANEW facilitates a participatory approach to water governance through networking of key players in the water and sanitation sector in Africa and also provides a platform for sharing and coordinating the activities of its members.   Membership is free and open to all registered CSOs working in the WatSan sector.

Source ANEW 5 yr strategic plan