New National Coordinators speak about their experiences and expectations


During the Meeting of National Coordinators (NCs) and Regional Representatives (RRs) in May, WSSCC's Tatiana Fedotova and David Trouba met the newest NCs to discuss the water, sanitation and hygiene issues in their countries, their WASH Coalitions and their impressions of the meeting in Geneva.

Fatoumata Haidara -- Mali
In Mali, the WASH Coalition started this year and is closely linked to WaterAid's End Water Poverty Campaign, which has generated broad awareness of and mobilisation for water supply issues, says Fatoumata Haidara.

"Now we need to achieve the same for implementing a sanitation strategy; all the societal layers need to be mobilised," Ms. Haidara says. "Therefore we need WSSCC’s support in the areas of capacity building, advocacy and communications, documentation, case studies and networking, in order to be in contact with other organisations and with the global level, and to share experiences and learn from others."

Ms. Haidara also said that it would be very helpful to visit other country partners as well, such as Madagascar and India. From that point of view, she found the planning meeting very useful since she could meet other National Coordinators.

"We’ll stay in touch and try to visit each other’s projects," she added. "These WSSCC contacts are very important for the coalition building and for implementing the sanitation strategy in Mali."

Fataou Salami – Togo
Fataou Salami is part of the CREPA (Centre Régional pour l'Eau Potable et l'Assainissement à faible coût) network in West Africa, and two years ago CREPA members in Togo were encouraged by the CREPA headquarters to start a national WASH Coalition.

Thus encouraged, Mr. Salami met different ministers as well as WSSCC's Carolien van der Voorden, who visited Togo and explained WASH, its principles and strategies. "It was disappointing to hear that such a network has been in existence for years, and that we were not part of it," Mr. Salami says. "So we felt very motivated to join this WASH campaign, which is at the very centre of the sanitation sector."

After meeting the other National Coordinators, he feels motivated to speak with potential partners such as CARE International, UNICEF, the French Development Agency, and others, in order to design an action plan and develop the national WASH Coalition.

"We already started working on a 'clean village concept' with the seed funding received from WSSCC and will now move forward with media activities," Mr. Salami says. "The sanitation sector definitely needs more institutional strength, meaning fewer divisions between different agencies and ministries. By the end of the year I would like to see sanitation programme and budget adopted and implemented in Togo."

To achieve this, he said, institutional support from WSSCC is crucial, since it enhances credibility at the national level and shows the government that Togo's WASH Coalition is serious and trustworthy.

André Toupe – Benin
According to André Toupe, Benin is in an organisational phase for its national WASH Coalition. More civil society mobilisation is needed, he said, to make decision-makers aware of the urgency and importance of water and sanitation needs.

"Before we start fundraising at the national level, we need more visibility and we need to show the added value of our movement to decision-makers, and convince them of our capabilities," Mr. Toupe says. "Therefore we expect WSSCC’s support in terms of advocacy and capacity building, not only in the capital city, but in the areas where the problems are most acute as well."

He said Benin will build up a strong central component for the coalition, but that decentralisation will be a key to success of the programme in the long run. He said that young people will be a focus of the effort. "Otherwise, we’ll never achieve the much needed change in hygiene and sanitation habits," Toupe says, adding that the next three years of WSSCC support are important.

Chea Samnang – Cambodia
Dr. Chea Samnang stopped practicing internal medicine in 1993, but he hasn't stopped working on behalf of the health of Cambodia's people. As Director of the Department of Rural Health Care in the Ministry of Rural Development, he has a leading role to participate in improving living standards and alleviating the poverty of rural people. He has the credentials to serve as the National Coordinator in one of WSSCC's newest WASH Coalitions, but he also welcomes new inspiration.

"I'm active in WSSCC because of the opportunity to learn," says Dr. Samnang. "Meeting colleagues from Africa, South Asia and elsewhere provides an opportunity to share knowledge and find new ways to improve our own sanitation and hygiene work in Cambodia."

Today, only 16 percent of the population in rural areas of Cambodia has access to a clean and private place to defecate. Dr. Samnang sees great opportunities for promoting home hygiene and he envisions a quick start-up to WASH activities since strong water supply and sanitation sector coordination already exists between governmental and non-governmental actors.

Strong political commitment also exists: in November 2007 Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen presented a six-point plan to ensure the efficiency and sustainability in rural sanitation improvement. The momentum generated has led to a series of regional sanitation, health and hygiene meetings; increased International Year of Sanitation advocacy; and an accelerated programme to meet Cambodia's MDG sanitation target of 30% coverage by 2015.