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| Last Updated:24/02/2014

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Executive Director Chris Williams highlights 7 challenges and opportunities during UN Post-2015 thematic debate on water, sanitation and hygiene, 20 February 2014



WSSCC Executive Director Christopher Williams was a key speaker on day one of the Thematic Debate on 'Water, Sanitation, and Sustainable Energy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda' convened in New York at UN Headquarters on 18-19 February 2014. Dr. Williams highlighted 7 important areas that the international and national development communities must address in order to speed up progress on current and future water and sanitation goals and targets.


He joined UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, Mr. Girish Menon from WaterAid, and other leading sector professionals at the event. The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), John Ashe, in his opening remarks said the thematic debate aims to facilitate discussion on the means of implementation and financing, increasing awareness, and overcoming challenges for water, sanitation and other key issues. A background paper and additional information about the debate is found here.


Dr. Williams full remarks can be viewed in the United Nations Web TV coverage of the event, found here (scroll to the 50-minute mark). In presenting the challenges and opportunities, he said:


Segmentation. The water (including water resources, water supply), sanitation and hygiene sector is “atomized,” he said. There are many issues and sector interests, from Integrated Water Resources Management to sanitation to transboundary water management. “We need to come together – the Post-2015 process should engender this conversation (of coming together).”


Voice. The people impacted by poor water and sanitation – billions worldwide – need to be heard in the Post-2015 discussions, he said.


Public financing. The vast amount of assistance in water, sanitation and hygiene work comes from the international community, which he said is not sustainable. “How can we diversify sources of funding?” he asked through spearheading local initiatives and leveraging communities and households and their own resources.


Coordination. Because of segmentation, he said, coordination is a challenge among and between NGOs, governments (including their different ministries, which often have overlapping responsibilities), external support agencies such as WSSCC and others, etc.


Equity. The aim is universal access to water supply and sanitation services, but does that mean equal access? Underserved populations, women, disabled people, and other peopled traditionally considered marginalized in some way must be included in water and sanitation programming from the beginning, rather than after-the-fact as an “add on.”


Scale. The scope of the global sanitation problem, in particular, is massive. “How do we achieve results that are not a community here, a community there, a city here, or a town there?” he asked. What works, he said, is to look at approaches that are territorial in scale, where entire districts are covered, and which can inspire other districts and national governments with their operational plans.


Monitoring. A major challenge, he said, is to get good evidence through improved monitoring systems of what is working and what is not working. Ministers are hard pressed to get this information, and have tough jobs as many interests come to them seeking support. “Where is the evidence that justifies their further investment in water and sanitation?” he asked.