Honourable Macky Sall, Prime Minister of Senegal;
Honourable Lamine Ba, Minister for Prevention, Sanitation and Public Hygiene,
Senegal, hosting the Forum;
Sir Richard Jolly, Chair, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council,
Mr. Gourisankar Ghosh, Executive Director of the Collaborative Council,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to have been invited by Sir Richard Jolly to chair the
Global WASH Forum in Dakar and it is indeed a privilege and pleasure for
me to join you at this inaugural plenary session of the Forum.
The gracious presence of Honourable Macky Sall, Prime Minister of Senegal,
with us here today demonstrates the importance that the host country attaches
to this Forum. Indeed, this Forum provides a valuable opportunity for
building and strengthening development partnerships among the international
community, national policy makers, Mayors and other locally elected representatives,
leaders of the industry and non-governmental organizations.
The agenda for the Millennium Development Goals was developed in an unprecedented
consultative process involving practically all stakeholders including
governments, civil society, women and youth groups and the private sector.
The MDGs have therefore become a framework for international development
cooperation, or a common rallying call in our struggle to raise the vast
majority of the world’s population out of the trap of poverty that
robs them of their health, dignity and aspirations for fulfilling their
I will submit that while poverty is the underlying theme of all Millennium
Development Goals, water, particularly for the poor, provides an important
entry point for action to achieve each of these goals. This thinking was
given further impetus at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in
Johannesburg. The political declaration adopted by Heads of States, further
amplified that the W in WEHAB was to stand for Water, Sanitation and Shelter.
This in turn provided the thematic focus for deliberations at the 12th
and 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.
Shelter and human settlements provide a concrete context for this action.
The struggle for achieving the Millennium Development Goal for water will
have to be waged in human settlements - in our cities, towns and villages,
where water will be consumed and waste generated. Here is where the actions
have to be coordinated and managed. It is at this level that policy initiatives
become an operational reality through a political process: conflicts have
to be resolved and consensus found among competing interests and parties.
The MDGs cannot be delivered in the abstract but in a defined space.
Allow me therefore to urge you to amplify WASH to stand for Water, Sanitation,
Shelter and Hygiene.
Honourable Chair, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
As we prepare ourselves for a new decade: “Water for Life –
2005-2015”, we need to make politicians and ordinary people aware
of what it means when large sections of society are denied safe water
and basic sanitation. We need to consider what price must people pay through
sickness, poor health and lost wages. What price does one put on women’s
safety and dignity? What price does a nation pay through enormous medical
bills and lost economic opportunities? What are the opportunity costs
of inaction by policy-makers on the present generation of ordinary people?
I was happy to note that CSD 12 highlighted some of these issues directly.
It was estimated that deaths caused by waterborne diseases represent a
global annual economic loss of more than a staggering 186 billion US dollars.
Simply meeting the sanitation target by 2015 with an investment of only
11 billion US dollars could garner an economic gain in the order of 63
billion US dollars every year, a six-fold return.
This is why I accepted the offer of Sir Richard Jolly to act as the Chair
of this Global WASH Forum. I have had the pleasure of working with Sir
Richard and the WSSCC on several previous occasions, notably, during the
PrepCom of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in February 2002,
where we jointly developed a strategy to bring sanitation to the top of
the political agenda at the Summit. Also, we jointly launched the WASH
campaign in Africa in Nairobi during the First World Urban Forum in Nairobi
in April 2002. We also jointly launched the first WASH campaign in Latin
America and the Caribbean with the Collaborative Council Executive Director,
Gouri Ghosh and our Brazilian counterparts in Rio de Janeiro on World
Habitat Day 2002.
UN-HABITAT has given its platform to the Council on several other occasions,
notably during the CSD sessions in New York as well as during the 3rd
World Water Forum in Kyoto and Osaka last year. We look forward to strengthening
this partnership in our common effort towards helping developing countries
achieve the MDGs.
Five Major Policy Challenges
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that a business-as-usual approach will not be enough. We
need a fundamental change in our approach to reach the Millennium Development
Goals – we need a strategy that is workable, realistic and will
make a difference in the lives of the people in their habitats. Let me
now turn to five key policy challenges that we must address to translate
the Millennium Development Goal for water into reality:
• Urbanization and Feminization of Poverty
At the turn of the Millennium, more than 900 million people, comprising
43 per cent of the urban population of developing countries lived in slums.
It is now clear that almost all of the population increase (90%) over
the years remaining to achieve the Millennium Development Goals will take
place in urban areas of developing countries. Most of these people will
end up living in the slums and shanties of the developing world. Achieving
the avowed goals that we have set for ourselves will remain a distant
dream if we do not focus on the slums of Nairobi, the bustees of Kolkata
and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
Official statistics often disguise the real problem of the poor in cities
and towns. For example, in Kenya, the official statistics show that 96
per cent of the urban residents have access to ‘improved’
sanitation. A reality check can give a very different picture. A recent
UN-HABITAT assessment of the water and sanitation situation in the world’s
cities indicate that in many slums, 150 or more inhabitants daily queue
up for one public toilet. A slum dweller in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam,
forced to rely on private water vendors, pays 5 to 7 times more for a
litre of water than an average North American citizen. This is not fiction
but true, and the health and economic impacts of this lack of basic services
can be very costly to a country in the long run.
Women today constitute 70 per cent of the world’s absolute poor
and they pay a heavy price in procuring this life-sustaining commodity
for their families through daily drudgery and lost opportunities. In crowded
urban settlements, sanitation can be far more than a public health issue
for a girl: it determines her privacy and dignity; it determines whether
her potential to become a productive citizen in society will ever be fulfilled.
Improving water and sanitation facilities in schools could be strategic
to reducing the current gender gap in school enrolments. Providing water
in rural areas could mean releasing girls to go to school and providing
more labour for direct productive activities.
• Translating Global Goals into Local Action
Unquestionably, the commitment of policy makers to translate these global
goals into country, city and town or village level goals and targets is
of foremost importance. The goals may be global in character but they
must be implemented locally, at city and community levels, where people
live and shelter and services are required. Therefore, as a first step,
the Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSPs) at country level need to reflect
the MDGs and prioritize water and sanitation. At UN-HABITAT, we are moving
to localize the MDGs in communities to produce their own town or community
level poverty reduction strategies.
At all these levels, an effective monitoring mechanism needs also to
be put in place early on, that will allow tracking progress towards achieving
these goals. The challenge here is to develop a monitoring mechanism that
reflects the voices of the people, particularly of the poor communities,
who are the real targets of MDGs. We cannot measure progress successfully
unless we focus our lens on the most important of target groups –
the poorest of the poor.
• The Right to Water
I feel that the time has now come for governments to shift gear from
a needs-based approach to a rights-based approach in providing water security
to the poor. Last year, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights recognised that water itself was an independent right,
as it was one of the most fundamental conditions for survival. Recognition
of this right in national policy-making and legislation is critical to
bring about a fundamental change in our approach. A rights based approach
will generate political and will help create a culture of resource allocation
that will put the interests of the poor first. UN-HABITAT has recently
entered into a partnership with the Green Cross International, led by
former President Mikhail Gorbachev, to translate the rights-based approach
into action at the national and local levels.
• Enhancing Pro-poor Investments
Regrettably, there is an alarming decline in per capita investment in
water and sanitation in most developing country cities. The annual flow
of resources to the sector, both through domestic mobilization and ODA,
will have to increase all round if the MDG targets are to be reached.
Bold initiatives are required to put in place realistic pricing policies
that will allow water conservation, discourage its waste and will ensure
that the poor will be able to meet their basic needs at a price they can
afford. Today, the poor subsidize the rich - a situation that is clearly
absurd and unacceptable. The lifeline tariff of South Africa is a clear
example of how progressive tariffs can be used as an instrument of social
Equally important, new investments must be tightly focused on the needs
of the poorest – more than a billion who live below $1 a day. Examples
abound where past investments in water and sanitation have bypassed the
poor, benefiting only those who are already connected to municipal supplies.
The active involvement of communities in project development is critical
for peoples’ voices to be heard in the decision-making process.
The United Nations and other external support agencies should work in
close partnership with international financing institutions. Capacity-building
efforts should be tightly linked to investments at national and local
levels, which are targeted at the poorest.
Soon after the World Summit on Sustainable Development, I announced the
establishment of a new Water and Sanitation Trust Fund by UN-HABITAT.
With generous support from Canada Fund for Africa and the Governments
of Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the Trust Fund has helped to expand
the Water for African Cities Programme to 14 countries. I am grateful
to African Ministers of AMCOW for their strong support to the implementation
of the second phase of this Programme, which was launched at the Pan African
Implementation and Partnership conference last year.
UNHABITAT is now working closely with the African Development Bank to
develop a strategic partnership between the Water and Sanitation Trust
Fund and the African Water Facility in order to promote pro-poor investments
in water and sanitation. This has received strong support from the common
donors of the two Funds.
• Bringing Sector Reforms to the Local Level
We are all aware that sector reforms need to be speeded up to enhance
efficiency, accountability and transparency in public spending and also
to create the right environment for greater flow of investment in water
and sanitation. But let me be frank and pragmatic here. The poorest countries
– who are way behind the MDG targets can not wait for another five
or ten years for the reforms to start yielding results. As the Millennium
Task Force has pointed out in its draft report, international support
through enhanced ODA flows must come in as the sector reforms continue.
It is equally important is to ensure that the fruits of sector reforms
reach the poor at the local level.
It is for these reasons that UN-HABITAT Water and Sanitation Trust Fund
is assisting three East African countries – Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda – to achieve water related Millennium Development Goals in
15 small and medium sized towns around Lake Victoria with a large population
of poor people. The initiative represents a real opportunity to improve
the lives of nearly one million poor people in the Lake Victoria region
by rehabilitating run-down water and sanitation infrastructure with an
investment of around $ 50 per capita. It is hoped that the project will
be implemented over a three-year period and during this time, an important
focus of the programme will be to build capacity at local level for sustainability
of the improved services.
I would like to congratulate the responsible Ministers of the three countries,
Hon. Maria Mutagamba, Hon. Martha Karua and Hon. Edward Lowassa for their
leadership in a true spirit of regional cooperation, which will enrich
the region’s ability to manage itself. I am much encouraged by the
enthusiasm and commitments of support I have received from the donors
for providing the required grant support to make this initiative a reality.
We are currently working with the Asian Development Bank to develop a
similar regional cooperation initiative in the Greater Mekong region.
Building Partnerships at the Local Level
Community-led initiatives in the water and sanitation sector have seen
remarkable progress in several countries in recent years. Several of these
initiatives are led by women’s groups which are acting as true agents
of change. The challenge in this area is to evaluate these experiences
and to find ways of up-scaling them in partnership with local governments.
I would urge donors – be they bilaterals or multilaterals - to
look more closely at some of the promising, locally funded, community-driven,
initiatives which have produced city-wide improvements in water and sanitation
services, by working in partnership with local governments. There is immense
opportunity for mobilizing yet untapped local resources through innovative
partnerships of this kind that could result in better care for the investment
and a greater willingness to pay for the services. UN-HABITAT is increasingly
supporting strategic local initiatives through its Water and Sanitation