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By Saskia Castelein, Programme Officer, Advocacy and Communications, WSSCC
The listening exercise, or national consultation in Togo was the 7th in a series of 16 consultations, aiming to understand the priorities and challenges of the countries in which the WSSCC engages, as well as discussing a number of proposed areas of work for the new WSSCC 2017 -2020 strategy.
The event took place in Notsè, in the Plateaux-region, to accommodate the participation of over 40 WSSCC members and partners coming from the various provinces.
The objective of the workshop went beyond the listening component and provided a platform to have a sector-wide discussion on the commitments, challenges, institutions and systems in Togo in the aftermath of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The morning sessions witnessed a number of scene setting presentations from government officials and WSSCC partners:
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Hydrology referred to an insufficiently developed legal framework at national level, which results in the absence of clear objectives and roles and responsibilities in the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector. He also stressed on the lack of leadership, coordination, technical capacities and financing.
However, the shared government vision is a testimony to the ambition to provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene services for all:
« A l'horizon 2030, les ressources en eau du Togo sont connues, mobilisées, exploitées et gérées en garantissant à toute la population et pour tous usages, un accès universel, équitable, durable et à un coût abordable aux services d’eau et d’assainissement performants, dans un cadre de vie assaini, un environnement protégé contribuant au développement durable du pays »
Politique Nationale de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement du Togo
« In 2030, the water resources in Togo are known, exploited and managed in order to provide to the entire population, and for all uses, a universal, equitable, sustainable and affordable access to well-functioning water and sanitation services, in healthy living conditions, and a protected environment contributing to the sustainable development of the country. »
National water and sanitation policy of Togo
This vision is also shared by the Ministry of Health, which invited all stakeholders to join the movement « Togo SANDAL » or an « Open Defecation Free Togo ». The need to join forces was stressed on, not only for concerted advocacy to increase budgets and involve technical partners, but also to share knowledge and increase collaboration.
The WSSCC’s engagement in Togo through the Global Sanitation Fund (led by Unicef and the Ministry of Health) and the Strategic Engagement Plan (led by the National Coordinator Achille Lokossou, Croix Rouge Togo) has been supporting, guiding and responding to the government’s vision. Its work has emphasized on sector coordination, bringing decision-makers of all levels on board and piloting approaches to attain the vision of an open defecation free Togo.
The meeting came at an ideal but also crucial time to further seek mutual areas of support. In the afternoon session, there were two central questions guiding the discussions: What are the main priorities and challenges of the WASH sector in Togo, and how can WSSCC best respond to those at national and at global level?
One of the debates centred around the need of the sector to systematically learn from successes and failures. Although there wasn’t clarity on who would lead on such a national learning centre, it was mentioned as a priority for the sector.
On the question whether WSSCC should engage in peri-urban areas, different views emerged.
It was acknowledged that working in peri-urban and urban areas needs a different approach than the current CLTS approach used for rural areas, however, providing services for all also means urban areas, as outlined in the vision 2030. This requires that all stakeholders, including WSSCC takes up its responsibility.
It became increasingly clear that the momentum created by the movement « Togo SANDAL » needs to be sustained, or rather, accelerated, if results are to be achieved.
It will require the involvement of many actors: the national and local governments, technical and financial partners, the private sector, but also local leaders, the media and the public.
The question of whether WSSCC should create or strengthen grassroots movements was contextualized by how WSSCC can help to continue the momentum created in Togo and reinforce the existing movement in a coordinated way, where learning and advocating become central pillars.