During the International Year of Sanitation, WSSCC keeps sanitation high on the international agenda


A bevy of conferences, workshops and special events since September kept sanitation and hygiene in the spotlight -- and WSSCC members and Secretariat staff on the move. Short summaries are below, and you can click the highlighted links for more information.

In September, WSSCC Executive Director Jon Lane participated in three important events, two of which introduced sanitation and hygiene issues to new but potentially important audiences outside of the sector. First up was the UBS Philanthropy Forum in Singapore, where Mr. Lane presented the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) to individuals, foundations, business leaders, social entrepreneurs and civil society representatives interested in private philanthropy.

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City, Mr. Lane and the Global Sanitation Fund were honoured by former President Clinton as a part of a special 'water and sanitation mega-commitment' -- the first time the issues figured so prominently at the CGI. The Executive Director also moderated a seminar on Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (video), where high-level experts that included Uganda's Minister of State for Water Maria Mutagamba explored sustainable, community-led solutions in water and sanitation.

While in New York, WSSCC participated in a Water and Sanitation for All session at the UN High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals. WSSCC expressed its support for one of the event's key outcomes: a 'Global Framework for Action'. Sponsored by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the Framework as envisioned would work to advance water and sanitation internationally by creating an annual high-level meeting and report to drive progress forward.

On 15 October, WSSCC's National WASH Coalitions, the Secretariat and many WSSCC partners celebrated Global Handwashing Day. Hundreds of events in more than 70 countries helped to promote the importance of handwashing with soap, particularly for young people and in schools. Carolien van der Voorden, Networking and Knowledge Management Officer at WSSCC, spoke to journalists at the United Nations in Geneva and media around the world showed great interest in the subject.

Later that month, Global Sanitation Fund Programme Manager Barry Jackson was a featured speaker at the conference Sanitation and Water: Meeting the Challenge in East Asia and the Pacific, held in Melbourne, Australia. Also, Advocacy Officer Saskia Castelein spent late October and early November with WSSCC members in East Africa. She supported a Tanzania WASH Coalition workshop aimed at developing a new advocacy strategy for the coalition. Following that, she helped to build synergies between WSSCC's WASH Campaign and the End Water Poverty (EWP) campaign by participating in the EWP International Planning Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

With its partner Eawag-Sandec, WSSCC was active at the World Toilet Summit in Macao, China, 4-6 November. Roland Schertenleib of Sandec, who also serves on the GSF Advisory Committee, presented the Global Sanitation Fund to attendees. At an exhibition booth, WSSCC and Sandec distributed their just-published Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies, which has been very well-received by sanitation and hygiene professionals.

November also saw extensive WSSCC involvement in South Asia. Events included the International WASH Practitioners Marketplace and Fair (http://www.streams.net) in Bangladesh, the Pre-SACOSAN Civil Society Meeting, and SACOSAN in India (the Third South Asian Conference on Sanitation). The practitioner event focused on learning and sharing and gave 150 participants from 14 countries the opportunity to learn more about sanitation, hygiene and water management knowledge, products and services. Ms. van der Voorden also convened and moderated a panel.

In Delhi, the pre-SACOSAN meeting gave more than 100 grassroots organizations from the region, as well as WSSCC, FAN South Asia and WaterAid, time to consult and to provide input into the main SACOSAN event. The resulting CSO Declaration was submitted to SACOSAN and proved both useful and influential for delegates, with parts appearing in the final SACOSAN Delhi Declaration. Mr. Lane spoke to SACOSAN in a plenary session on the final day.

Away from Delhi, Communications Officer Tatiana Fedotova presented WSSCC at the Central Asian Sanitation Conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and participated in a meeting of WSSCC members from the region.

Programme Officer for Communications David Trouba attended the Sanitation for the Urban Poor Symposium in Delft, which was sponsored by WSSCC partner IRC in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The event concluded in Amsterdam with a seminar and the formal Dutch closing of the International Year of Sanitation 2008. His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, once again showed his great support for the issue by participating.