international, ngo, video, water events, workshop

‘Transparency in the Water Sector’ Live Broadcast Review

This morning, I was energized to listen to a live broadcast of the “Transparency in the Water Sector” panel discussion hosted by Water for People. This talk featured a variety of professional development practitioners, and viewers were tweeting about the event at #waterhonesty. I’m not an expert on water-project transparency, and this talk was a good opportunity to learn more.


First, a primer on transparency in the water sector.

Before the broadcast, I tried to find a good definition of “transparency in the water sector” online. Transparency International indicates transparency leads to accountability which leads to integrity which leads to less corruption. Corruption is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain “. IRC says integrity and honesty lead to less corruption in the water sector. Transparency is defined as “sharing information and acting in an open manner”. SIWI states “Transparency, accountability and integrity are critical governance components without which corruption issues cannot be successfully addressed.” So in lay terms – transparency in the water sector leads to accountability, honesty, and integrity which leads to less corruption. This is good because corruption has been identified as the major barrier in meeting the Millennium Development Goals including MDGs focused on water and sanitation.

Now, the goods of the talk.

Much of the talk centered around defining water-project transparency in practice. The talk broached several subject areas, and I attempted to compile a few main points on water-project transparency below. If you have any updates to this review, send me a message. Water for People will host another live broadcast in the future, and – with Portland PHLUSH – one idea for a topic is emergency sanitation. Nonetheless, what a great way to open up global dialogue on water and sanitation issues. Hats off to Water for People and all presenters today!

Water-project transparency components:
Transparency in funding essential. USAID dashboard good example.
Other project components need transparency: design, construction, and long-term use.

Water-project transparency challenges:
Indicators for success not working. Indicators for Millennium Development Goals not applicable.
Many tools for evaluating transparency, but no streamlined system.
Lack of long-term monitoring for water and sanitation systems. Many donors not supporting longevity of WASH systems.
[Lack of analysis of project failure to promote learning and adaptation for future project success.] – See comment by Paige.

Water-project transparency solutions:
Indicators of project success developed unique to location. Cultural systems incorporated.
Low-cost monitoring tools, like Akvo Flow, used.
Transparency tools and frameworks compiled and streamlined. WIN site to compile tools.
Different responsible roles created for monitoring, evaluating, and learning.
Long-term monitoring and evaluation emphasized to donors. Sustainable funding source ensured for project, monitoring, and evaluation.
[Analyze project failure in detailed methodological way to be accountable to funders and incorporate lessons for future improvement.] – See comment by Paige.

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architecture, art, community, drinking water, international, water availability, water events

Water-Art Activism Hits New York City

It always strikes me how a small but creative idea can spread spurring people around it to see the world in a new way. Or its ability to influence individuals to engage in positive change. Word Above the Street is one such idea.

Mary Jordan wants to “draw attention to Water as a precious resource by transforming 300 rooftop water tanks in New York City into works of art”. These works of art will focus on bringing awareness to water scarcity and water sanctity around the world. Professional artists, emergent artists, and youth have been asked to submit art ideas for the tanks.


Above Photo: Word Above The Street

Positive effects of this art project will be far-reaching. Over 8.4 million NYC residents, 5 million tourists, and millions of virtual visitors will be able to see the exhibition during the summer of 2012. This may be the first time many of these people have thought about water as an important issue, and this project may inspire others to further create positive change. Right on Word Above the Street!

conference, politics, water events

Water, Sanitation, and the 2010 G8 Summit

From June 25 to June 26, leaders from eight of the “major advanced economies” in the world will converge for the G8 Summit in Canada to discuss important matters. PM Harper from Canada said this year’s Summit will focus on “key challenges related to development, and international peace and security.” All priority issues for the Summit – development, the health of mothers,/newborns/children, food security, Africa, and peace/security – relate to water and sanitation.

The Canadian G8 Website states that health issues “will be accomplished by helping developing countries strengthen their health systems and improve access to: health care, trained health workers, family planning, attended childbirth, better nutrition, clean drinking water and sanitation, and the means to prevent and treat diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.”

One problem with past G8 Summits is the difficulty of deciphering what has been discussed during the private meetings and how this information will ‘trickle down’ to policies in both participating and non-participating nations. One group, called the G8 Research Group, is working to provide more information on proceedings of G8 Summits. Maybe this year they will cover some of the discussions on water and sanitation? Their website states:

“Unlike other multilateral meetings, leaders at the G8 Summit meet privately behind closed-doors; there are no aides or intermediaries and there are few scripts or protocols. The decisions made by the G8 have global ramifications and the reach and scope of its influence in the world cannot be denied.”

Still, each year, G8 Summits provide an opportunity for civil-society organizations to coalesce and urge respective governments to talk about issues that matter to them. A number of groups are focusing on water and sanitation at the G8 in 2010. Interaction, a coalition of 180 NGOs working to alleviate global poverty, has prepared a brief on water and sanitation that calls for the US Government to be vocal on water and sanitation at the Summit.

Canadian organizations including UNICEF Canada and Care Canada and Plan Canada and RESULTS Canada and Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada state that the Canadian Government should “…address preventive measures such as adequate diet through breastfeeding, nutritional supplementation/fortification and access to clean water and sanitation.”

And a G8 World Religions Summit of global religious leaders began yesterday at the University of Winnipeg. Leaders represent Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto and indigenous faiths. This alternative Summit will be aired live online here. They hosted a water-ceremony on the opening day of this alternative Summit. For more information on last year’s G8 Summit and water (and sanitation), please see this blog post. Updates on water and sanitation discussions at the Summit will be added as they become available.

UPDATE (29 July 2010):

On the 26th of June, leaders from G8 countries wrapped up the summit and issued a Declaration. They pledged support towards meeting Millennium Development Goals. They affirmed a common desire to achieve aid-effectiveness for development in Africa. They discussed the importance of meeting MDG 4 reducing child mortality and MDG 5 maternal health, but did not indicate water and sanitation as integral to such efforts anywhere in the main Declaration.

They launched the Muskoka Initiative to further progress on meeting MDGs 4 and 5  and linked this Initiative to MDGs 1 (childhood nutrition) and 6 (HIV/AIDS, malaria). They mentioned the importance of drinking water and sanitation once stating “relevant actions in the field of safe drinking water and sanitation” among other things are important towards meeting the aforementioned MDGs. But they did not identify a link between MDGs 4 and 5 to MDG No. 7 to halve the population without drinking water or sanitation.

Many NGOs including World Vision feel the Muskoka Initiative is under-funded with 5 billion pledged towards meeting these commitments with half of that amount from Canada). Here is a good review of different NGOs and their take on the Summit and subsequent Initiative.

audio, radio station, unicef, water events

Tap Project Radio: Music for Water, Music for Life

To celebrate today – World Water DayUNICEF has released Tap Project Radio. I was going to wait to tell you this in my formal post regarding World Water Day, but it’s too terrific to wait.

Tune your computer dial to Tap Project Radio to listen to chill music and make a donation Tap Project Radio Linkthat will help the one billion people in the world without access to clean drinking water. This internet radio station will be broadcasting today through World Water Week from March 22-28, 2009.

The Tap Project is a movement sponsored by UNICEF to gather donations and teach others about water and sanitation problems worldwide. The Tap Project raises money during World Water Week by encouraging restaurants to sell tap water for one dollar instead of bottled water and engaging in print and media campaigns. Each dollar raised will provide a child with drinking water for 40 days.

Tap Project Radio will be broadcasting 24-hours a day featuring celebrity DJ’s and interviews. Check out the schedule for more information. So far, I’ve listened to Sublime, The Clash, Dylan, and Death Cab for Cutie. Now, I’m totally in the mood to write a post for World Water Day.

drinking water, drought, groundwater, international, outreach, water availability, water conflict, water events

Water Justice Movement Gearing up for the 5th World Water Forum

The water justice movement is gearing up for the 5th World Water Forum to be held during World Water Week from March 16th – 22nd in Istanbul, Turkey. They will host a Counter Forum during the event to educate people about the water justice movement, the problems with privatization of water supplies, and the importance of water as a human right.

peopleswaterforum

The Counter Forum will host the following events (from the Wash News International blog):

10-13 March: Water Tribunal – Four cases to be heard in a similar format to the Latin American Water Tribunal conducted during the 4th World Water Forum.
14-22 March: Global Week of Actions for Water Justice.
14 March: Demonstration in central Istanbul.
15 March: Demonstration in Kadikoy Square.
16 March: Official opening of the World Water Forum -activists organizing press conferences and protests against WWF.
17-18 March: Platform workshop event at TMMOB Taksim Square office.
17 March: Evening, Public Water Event organized by international activists – featuring UN representation and others – (unconfirmed).
19-20 March: Platform plenary events at MKM Congress Center.
19 March: Demonstration planned.
20-22 March: Campaign’s Alternative Water Forum – Bilgi University.
22 March: Closing of official WWF and World Water Day.
23 March: Solidarity delegation to Diyarbakir region of Turkey.

Please visit the Peoples Water Forum website for a list of updated events. Here is an excerpt from the Call to Action:

This 5th World Water Forum, as with the previous 4 World Water Forums, is being organized by the World Water Council, a body created and controlled by the global private water industry and which continues to promote water privatization, destructive dams, commodification and commercialization, projects and policies proven to harm people and communities; local food systems, livelihoods and indigenous resource base.

For more information on the water justice movement, check out this website created after the 4th World Water Forum in Mumbai or this webpage created by the Transnational Institute with a list of links and documents pertaining to water justice.