Access to safe water for all: multi-stakeholder partnerships for concrete responses

Published on Thursday 11 March 2021

Article from our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Barometer 2021

By Mamadou Dia, President of AquaFed (The International Federation of Private Water Operators) and President of the Departmental Council of Podor (Senegal).

Looking ahead to the 9th World Water Forum, Mamadou Dia calls on stakeholders to join forces and help get the world back on track to universal water and sanitation access, particularly in rural areas.

Working alongside many other development stakeholders, and often on unforeseen topics, AquaFed and SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL are united by a common goal: boosting political and multi-stakeholder mobilization around water and sanitation issues. Indeed, only through dialog and cooperation can major issues be addressed and real solutions proposed.

As we look ahead to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the need for private-sector stakeholder involvement cannot be overstated. It is no secret that the gaps we are observing can’t be closed, that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can’t be achieved, without the meaningful, active and sustained involvement of businesses, within a framework of solid governance.

Whether improving water access, bolstering sustainability of sanitation services or protecting the environment and populations in shantytowns, rural areas or big cities, our challenge is to transform rights into a reality. The potential role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in this effort is quite clear. Although provided for by the SDGs, we still need more concrete responses in the field and stronger political will, particularly as far as prioritizing water and sanitation programs, especially in rural areas, is concerned.

Enforcing the right of every man, woman and child to water and sanitation calls, above all, for a solid understanding of what each of the various stakeholders can, and must, bring to the table. Partnerships must be built and managed on an equitable basis.

To this end, a holistic approach must be deployed to help rural areas make up for their substantial lag compared to urban areas, not just in terms of access to water and sanitation, but also in economic development and well-being.

Challenges including climate change, demographic growth and health crises like the Covid-19 pandemic call for joint mobilization and collective efforts. 2021 will be a pivotal year for making advances in light of lessons learned from the current pandemic.

AquaFed and its members are closely involved in preparations for the 9th World Water Forum (WWF) set to take place in Dakar. As the first Forum to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, it presents a crucial opportunity for awareness-raising and decision-making on the road to delivering concrete responses for truly universal access to water and sanitation. It is also an opportunity to call attention to certain problems and highlight lasting solutions for improved territorial cohesion.

Actions such as these will help keep populations in place, thereby curbing illegal emigration while also boosting employment and employability among young people.

We look forward to working together to make the WWF a true success—one that goes beyond dialog to implement innovative, lasting solutions designed to meet the needs of rural populations (water, sanitation, health, energy, education, etc.).

As co-president of the “Water for Rural Development” priority, I invite all concerned stakeholders to get involved in the Dakar 2022 preparatory process.


An Inclusive Preparatory Process

The Dakar WWF’s priority “Water for Rural Development” hinges on several objectives:  ensuring access to water and sanitation for all in rural areas; providing public Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities (in schools, health centres, etc.); ensuring sustainable farming practices; engaging and empowering rural communities to become catalysts of water-driven socio-economic development; and reducing the rural-urban gap in order to curb migration.

Action groups have been created for each of these priorities. In order to guarantee a multiparty approach and meet the Forum’s goal of inclusion, each action group will be supported by a broader volunteer advisory group. To learn more about this advisory process, visit: worldwaterforum.org.




Photo © Prince-Naymuzzaman-Khan / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL