Aims, Objectives, Methodology and Activities behind the Campaign
At the dawn of the 21st century, some 1.1 billion people on Earth are still without access to a safe water supply and over 2.4 billion are without adequate sanitation. Rapid population growth during the 1990s, particularly in the world`s mega cities has meant that, by 2000, an estimated 620 million more people gained access to water supply and some 435 million more people had access to sanitation facilities. Despite laudable achievements by the sector during the International Decade for Water Supply and Sanitation (1981-1990) to meet these basic needs, there remains a tremendous backlog in terms of the billions of unserved people, mostly the poor and marginalized citizens living in squalid, unhealthy environments in the developing world.
The WASH campaign is a political and social imperative because:
- At any given moment almost half the developing world`s people are sick from unsafe water and sanitation.
- Lack of water supply and sanitation robs millions of dignity, energy, and time.
- Frequent disease is the main cause of poor growth and early death.
- For a third of the world the real environmental crisis is squalor, smells and disease on the doorstep.
- Half of the developing world`s hospital beds are occupied by victims of unsafe water and poor sanitation.
- Economies suffer as hygiene-related illness costs developing countries five billion working days a year.
- Sustainable development starts with people`s health and dignity.
The WASH campaign is based on the fundamental principles of Vision 21. In turn the Iguacu Action Programme (IAP) helped to translate Vision 21 into an action agenda. A substantive part of the Iguacu Action Programme emphasizes advocacy and communications, and WASH is the means by which this focus is maintained.
Saving Lives through Sanitation and Hygiene
Women and Children Suffer the Most. Despite the advances of the 20th century, there are still 2.4 billion people around the globe without access to adequate sanitation facilities. The consequences are devastating. Where there are no latrines girls commonly avoid school; without latrines women and girls must wait until dark to defecate, exposing themselves to harassment and sexual assault. Diarrhoea resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene is responsible for the death of more than two million impoverished children each year.
Sanitation is Not a Dirty Word. Many politicians and decision makers do not realise that providing access to sanitation facilities, though relatively inexpensive, will halve the death toll on those who do not currently enjoy this fundamental human right. Or that water, hygiene and sanitation are entry points for poverty alleviation. Because the neediest among us have the least political power, leaders have little incentive to focus on this issue.
It`s Time for a Change. To remedy this inexcusable condition, concerned individuals and organisations have formed the WASH Campaign, a global alliance for making safe water, sanitation and hygiene a reality for all. Launched at the International Conference on Freshwater in December, 2001, WASH is a global effort of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. The aim is to raise consciousness about sanitation and hygiene, gain the commitment of political, social and opinion leaders around the world and, ultimately, bring about the structural and behavioural changes that will provide a permanent solution to this preventable international crisis.
Major challenges and next steps:
Speak up: The first need is for effective and sustained advocacy of water, sanitation and hygiene at all levels. Politicians, professional bodies, press and public need to be convinced that the greatest public health breakthrough of the last thousand years must now be put at the disposal of all.
Be informed: Discuss the basic principles of the approach – and the lessons of past experience – with all those who become involved. It should be widely known, for example, that clean water alone will achieve little and that without a sense of community ownership and participation most projects will fail.
Monitor progress: Seek to establish clear goals and agreed indicators for monitoring progress towards those goals.
Reach out: Build alliances and collaborate with others – the media, schools and universities, scientists and technologists, medical and public health professionals, religious organizations, the business community, the entertainment industry, women`s groups, community, organizations – to advocate and work towards water and sanitation goals.
Research and identify: With the help of such allies, seek out and promote acceptable and affordable technologies upon which people and communities can draw.
Promote hygiene: The key hygiene messages are few. But they need to be identified and communicated for each culture and society, so that knowledge of hygiene and its importance is part of the information environment in which communities live and in which children grow up.
Mobilise resources: Identify all possible sources of funds and campaign for the resources needed. This includes making estimates of initial and ongoing costs – and planning for the financial sustainability of water and sanitation programmes.
Document and disseminate: Publicise success, analyse failure, and share with all those involved the evolving principles and practical strategies that will advance water and sanitation goals.
Scale up: Demonstration projects have their uses. But the real challenge today is to `go to scale` by building the institutional capacity that will put known solutions into action on the same scale as the known problems
It`s important. It`s inexpensive. It`s obvious. Sanitation Saves Lives Make a difference. Join the WASH Campaign today.