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By Patrick Alubbe
2019 Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) was a unique event amongst many I have attended with thousands of participants from all over the world.
Keywords that frequently resonated with me throughout the week include “inclusion, accountability to citizens, transparency in use of resources, access to information, reaching the last mile” and many more. And the common denominator of all the trending words was the ‘’Leave No One Behind (LNOB)’’ theme.
Accordingly, LNOB was unanimously conceived as the accelerator of any initiative meant to achieve the SDGs targets. The definition of leaving no one behind came in various forms: the elderly, women, youth and people living with disabilities (PLWD). Others also gave it a geographical definition, those who cannot be reached due to difficulties reaching the areas.
Different takeaways emerged from SWWW. Fundamentally, there was the realization that everyone has the right to water and sanitation: all should have access to safe, adequate and quality water with safely managed sanitation facilities. Issues around equality and non-discrimination (EQND) on the basis of race, gender, age or disability, also emerged very clearly.
I was one of the panelists at a seminar called, “CSO, change makers and allies with government in reaching SDG6.” During the seminar, which was co-hosted by WSSCC, messages around EQND and accountability were addressed, with the need to involve civil society organizations (CSOs) in national processes. Special attention was given to the need for CSOs to remain independent in thinking. Yet, discussions also highlighted the importance of working on partnerships such as the government, as key to reaching target populations.
With regard to Kenya, my home country, what became clear is that to meet the SDG targets, there must be sufficient budget and good political will to enable services and reach the population. The government must involve all stakeholders in the discussion of future solutions to attain services for marginalized people.
WSSCC let its voice heard at SWWW, showing its convening power, dissemination prowess, and technical advice amongst the its many strengths. The presence of WSSCC’s chair, Ms. Hind Khatib-Othman, and of other Steering Committee members also reinforced its position in the WASH sector.
WSSCC’s exhibition booth had daily themes, such as LNOB, societal engagement, menstrual hygiene, and marking 10 years of the Global Sanitation Fund. Communicating in this way meant we were able to engage a wider range of sector professionals, with several participating in the live “WASH talks” being recorded at the booth.
With so many water and sanitation professionals gathered in one place, WSSCC took the opportunity to consult its members on its new strategic plan process. Some of the key themes that emerged from this workshop were that members from WSSCC priority countries supported the focus on activities linked to marginalized groups, there was interest in how to extend engagement to their own networks, and demand for greater connection and collaboration through the member community including shared resources that are accessible to different audiences.
This is an exciting time for WSSCC and its wider community, and we will work together with our extensive community to deliver this vision and ensure that as we move to achieve global sanitation and hygiene for all, that no one is left behind.
Mr Patrick Alubbe is a WSSCC Steering Committee Member and Executive Director at Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO), based in Nairobi.