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In June, July and August WSSCC reached out to its members and partners in 16 countries through dedicated national consultations. *
The major objective of those national consultations was to listen to the sanitation and hygiene priorities and challenges and gather insights and recommendations to feed into the WSSCC strategic plan for 2017-2020. However, those events also served as platforms for sector -wide dialogues, involving a wide range of stakeholders, including government officials and decision-makers at national and sub-national level, local partners implementing programmes of the Global Sanitation Fund and active WSSCC members.
Committing to achieving sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030
A fundamental starting point for the discussions was the globally adopted Agenda 2030, where countries committed to the principles of universality and equality. For the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector, this is being translated in national commitments to end open defecation and provide safely managed sanitation and hygiene for all, including the most vulnerable, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal target 6.2**.
Thus, the consultations offered the opportunity for participants to express how SDG target 6.2 might be achieved in their own national context. In Madagascar, the Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene M. Ravatomanga, called for “an acceleration in engagement to achieve the Global Goals” while reconfirming government leadership and the commitment to a new national action plan for WASH. The consultation in Niger also witnessed a strong government commitment when the Minister for Water and Sanitation, Barmou Salifou pledged to “redouble efforts”.
Hence, many of the consultations turned out to be a platform where decision-makers made serious commitments in the presence of WSSCC members, partners and activists. This is a clear outcome that went beyond the initial objective and will demand a follow-up with concrete advocacy work to accelerate the realisation of the intended changes.
Furthermore, the presence of WSSCC members and partners also initiated conversations about how the organisation can help implement national sanitation plans. In Benin, the Minister of Health, Alassane Séidou seized the opportunity to stress the commitment of his government to increase its contribution to the sanitation and hygiene sector and urged participants to think critically around how WSSCC’s next strategic plan could contribute to the national commitment of ending open defecation by 2030. During the consultation in Cambodia, where the ambitious objectives of the National Action Plan were presented, the government also requested strategic support from WSSCC to help accelerate its implementation.
Converning for dialogues, synergies and collaboration
The consultation in Nigeria reflected the recognition of WSSCC’s convening role with over 90 participants, including the attendance of two key ministries – the Federal Ministry of Water and Resources, as well as the Federal Ministry of Environment. Amina Mohammed, Federal Environment Minister and WSSCC Chair, highlighted the need for synergies and collaboration between sector players, such as the ministries ofEnvironment, Water Resources, Health, Women Affairs, Education and all other governments with mandates to promote improved sanitation and hygiene. In addition, she recognized the positive role of civil society networks.
Across the 16 consultation workshops, the value of WSSCC’s convening power in bringing key people together to advance dialogue was recognized and highly appreciated. Participants were keen to meet more regularly to discuss the challenges and future of the sub-sector.
The consultations demonstrated WSSCC’s commitment to its membership base. This listening exercise was a major effort to better understand the needs but also the strengths of our hundreds of members in the 16 countries and is considered an important step building a more enduring and interactive relationship. In Uganda, the retired Honourable Minister of Water and Environment, Maria Mutagamba, also referred to as “Mama WASH Africa” and a long standing WSSCC member attended the meeting and highlighted the importance of being a fully engaged member of WSSCC. She inspired participants by emphasising that even the smallest contribution by each WASH advocate and practitioner is meaningful.
Membership was also central in the Nepal consultation, where opportunities and benefits for WSSCC members were discussed. One suggestion was for WSSCC to do “Thinking, Inking, and Linking” – or to continue its support for on-the-ground work through the Global Sanitation Fund but to ramp up upstream work on policy change, support enabling environments and advocacy, an area where members could be a valuable asset. This was showcased when Miss Nepal World 2015, Evana Manandhar, reiterated her commitment as an ambassador for WSSCC on menstrual hygiene and other equality and non-discrimination issues.
Although each meeting had its own dynamic and specific highlights, overall, the participants and WSSCC members and partners welcomed the opportunity to voice their opinions and develop recommendations to be considered in the organisation’s new strategic direction for the period of 2017-2020.
The feedback from the national consultations are one part of a nine-month long process by WSSCC to develop its new strategy. In addition to the consultations, members outside those countries also had the opportunity to contribute via a membership survey earlier this year. The proposed strategy will be an agenda item at the forthcoming Steering Committee meeting in November, in Mumbai, India.
*Malawi, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda; Madagascar; Zimbabwe, Nepal, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
**By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations