WORLD WATER FORUM: Civil groups call for decentralised solutions

Around 90 NGOs working in water and sanitation across the globe have joined forces to launch a coalition called the Butterfly Effect, urging governments to shift the emphasis of financing large scale infrastructure through loans and instead focus on small scale solutions...

MARSEILLE, France, March. 13, 2012 – Around 90 NGOs working in water and sanitation across the globe have joined forces to launch a coalition called the Butterfly Effect – a human rights-based approach to direct clean water and sanitation to developing nations.

Consultation with NGOs was said to have taken place for over a year before a set of messages was collated for the 6th World Water Forum being held in Marseille this week.

The coalition urged governments and other stakeholders to take heed of nine steps, including: committing to implementing “this human right [to water] quickly by all appropriate means”; engage with civil society to create a “needs based capacity building programme” and recognise the role and voice of local civilians when implementing policies.

The Butterfly Effect backs decentralised solutions in providing water and sanitation, saying these solutions are “local, sustainable, adaptable, innovative, equitable, accountable and people-orientated”.

In its launch literature, the NGO coalition urged governments to “Shift their emphasis from the financing of large scale centalised economic infrastructure through loans, to the financing of small scale decentralised infrastructure”.

Addressing delegates in a seminar entitled: “Solutions from Civil Society: Inspiring Change through a Human Rights based approach”, speakers highlighted why civil group involvement is needed.

Fabiola Garduno from the SWASH+ (School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Plus) community project in Mexico, said: “Community schemes require ownership to be successful. There was a case of water-based toilets being used but children were still defecating outside the toilet as there was no water. The school decided to close the toilets as they didn’t work for them. Instead they opted for compost-based toilets. In the event of a lack of water, how can we promote sanitation?”

Another speaker highlighted a communication challenge in Uganda. She said the role of "key players is not defined and sanitation falls under four different ministry departments. Yet when it comes to budgets and sanitation, it’s nobody’s business.”

Partners signed up to the Butterfly Effect include Green Cross, WWF, Freshwater Action Network South Asia and End Water Poverty.

Doreen Wandera of UWASNET, a network of NGOS working on water and sanitation in Uganda, said: “We now urge all actors to support national governments to implement this right for all people and to recognise and effectively support local knowledge and community management as important contributions to implement this right.”

The 6th World Water Forum officially opened yesterday with former soviet leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev saying that enough water exists for all, if managed correctly (see WWi story).


More in Infrastructure Funding