Today’s World Water Day, and here’s what you need to be reading/watching

March 22, 2010

     By Duncan Green     

It’s world water day
Bad watsan ruins lives but
gets ignored. So act!

Today is world water day, and reader Steve Cockburn, coordinator of a global coalition called End Water Poverty, of which Oxfam is a member, has kindly done my job for me by sending over some links and analysis. This is all him, not me: 

‘UNICEF/WHO last week released their Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation report tracking progress in the sector. Plenty in there but the main headline shows that although water is on track globally (but certainly not in Africa), to meet the sanitation Millennium Development Goal (“Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation”), the sanitation target won’t be met for another 200 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. That puts it up there with maternal mortality as oneo f the most off-track MDG targets on the continent.

This raises questions around the processes of policy-making that make sanitation in particular so neglected in terms of investment and prioritisation at all levels (donor and recipient governments, international institutions, but also NGOs) when theoretically everyone understands it is central to child health (28% of child deaths due to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)-related causes, according to the WHO), girls education (half the school girls dropping out in Africa do so because of poor facilities), and nutrition. You see it all the time. [Steve, you’re going to have to spell out your answers to those questions in the comments section!]

Globally, there is a push to create a new global platform, not dissimilar to Education for All (EFA) or the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), to improve the sector’s performance and political presence. It’s called Sanitation and Water for All: A Global Framework for Action (SWA), and you can read more on our semi-private Google Site that we use to share info with partners. On April 23 there will be the first ‘High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water’ to kick this off, though big questions remain about whether governmetns will use it as a chance to turn words into deeds – see our ‘manifesto‘ for the event. 

Finally, there’s the first truly global campaign on sanitation to try and step up the public pressure. We’re coordinating a campaign in 70 countries around the theme of The World’s Longest Toilet Queue, mobilising people to stand up for their rights to safe sanitation, and to seek to influence that high-level event one month later. Hopefully it can help put sanitatation back into the mainstream debate where it belongs.

Some other reports/resources that may be useful reference, sorry for the bombardment!:

•          WaterAid’s ‘Silent Killer’ Report – the hidden effect of sanitation on child deaths:

•          WaterAid’s ‘Fatal Neglect’ Report – looking at aid flows for child health compared to disease burden

•          WHO’s: ‘Safer Water, Better Health’ – latest stats and info on impacts of poor WASH’

Thanks Steve, and if that if doesn’t convince you, check out this great World Vision youtube on dirty water – couple of years old, but as powerful as ever

March 22, 2010
Duncan Green