A high level Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) meeting opened this morning in Washighton, United States.
Todays’ Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting brings together the SWA Partnership of donors and agencies with 69 ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios.
They will be meeting with the UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, UK International Development Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation HRH the Prince of Orange, and major donors and water and sanitation sector organizations, to discuss speeding up global access to water and sanitation.
The meeting is the second of its kind, and comes against the backdrop of an announcement in March from UNICEF and the World Health Organization that many still lack safe water, and that the target for improved sanitation is lagging far behind and will not be met at current rates of progress.
“Forty years ago exactly, in a triumph of science, engineering, and technology, Apollo 16 landed on the moon. It was the fifth mission to do so,” Lake says, “yet today, 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation because they lack the most basic sanitation facilities.” He continues: “If, two generations ago, we landed men on the moon, we can and we must afford people here on earth their most basic needs.”
His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana and newly appointed chair of the SWA partnership, emphasizes the need for governments to act urgently.
“It is time to focus our energies on neglected areas and neglected people. The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach, but a tremendous increase in political will, adequate resources and coordinated efforts is required to get us there,” Kufuor says.
According to UNICEF, at least 2.5 billion cases of diarrhoea occur in children under five years of age every year, and an estimated 3,000 children die from it daily.
Organizers are hoping to build on the success of the first High Level Meeting in 2010, also convened by UNICEF at the World Bank, which led to increased focus and commitments from countries and donors. The 2012 meeting is greatly expanded, with 40 countries taking part, up from 18 in 2010.
Of those present in 2010, nine countries have confirmed that they are meeting their commitments of increased budget allocations; and seven of the 13 donors present in 2010 have met or exceeded the targets they set for funding. Countries have also reported improved coordination and accountability among different institutions and almost half the donors have increased alignment with national planning processes.
Developing Countries with Confirmed Ministerial Representation at the High Level Meeting are Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe