The World Water Day 2008 celebrations in Geneva on 20 March were dedicated to sanitation. A press conference was followed by speeches by Mr. Serguei Ordzhonikidze, Director General of the UN in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Ms. Beate Wilhelm, Assistant-Director General of the Swiss Agency of Development Cooperation, Mr. Philip O’Brien, Regional Director General of the UNICEF in Geneva and Mr. Jon Lane, Executive Director of WSSCC.
As emphasized by Jon Lane, the celebrations in Geneva were meant to show our support to activities in the field, while many colleagues around the world used the World Water Day to launch the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) in their countries.
Good new material is available to communicate sanitation messages and World Water Day saw the launch of the IYS advocacy and media kit prepared by the UN Water Task Force on Sanitation.
To draw more attention to the sanitation crisis, WSSCC organized a toilet queue at the premises of the UN Palace in Geneva. His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands said that “repetition breeds recognition, and recognition is what we need to make people act”. The aim was therefore to mobilize people to point once again to the appalling number of human beings who have nowhere to hide from illness, shame and even death because of the lack of basic sanitation. The bushes are no help in that. Hard work, plain speaking, strong leadership and demand creation are four essential points to achieve sanitation for ALL according to Jon Lane. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get there.
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