Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Water Summit in the City of Baths

The Budapest Water Summit (BWS) took place in the Hungarian capital, also famous for its public baths, between 8th and 11th of October, 2013. Many water-policy related actors from relevant UN bodies through important civil society and business actors to specific country high level representations gathered at this occasion in Budapest.

With the MDGs coming to an end soon, and as climate change clouds get darker and darker it was high time for BWS „envisaged as a policy forum to facilitate consensus building amongst stakeholders concerning water and sanitation policy goals.” Besides the plenary discussions (focusing on five key areas- check pages 4-5 here), there were forums on : Science’s, Youth’s, Business Leaders’ and Civil Society’s, plus a Philantrophy Roundtable and a Water and Sanitation EXPO.

Supported by NGOs and academics, WHO and UNICEF already defined targets and indicators for the „post 2015” goals on access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Their visions for 2040 are: „• No one practices open defecation; • Everyone has safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home; • All schools and health centers have water, sanitation and hygiene; • Water, sanitation and hygiene are sustainable and inequalities have been progressively eliminated.”

Hygiene issues are very hard to put on the table. No wonder, male majority was overwhelming at this Summit too. Gender perspective gains more and more weight, but it should be incorporated cross cuttingly into all water issues. I would certainly challenge everybody to look deeper into water issues. As a quick starter here is a proposed indicator for measuring improved drinking-water services: „Percentage of population using an improved source with a total collection time of 30 minutes or less for a roundtrip including queuing.” People queue for water, one in three will not have access to a toilet by 2015 and a child dies every 20 seconds due to water related problems. Sometimes I would like to see all participants of events like the BWS, myself included, queueing for a soap and a handwash, only for about ten minutes, few times a day, again and again!

Information provided Péter Rohonyi – Eisenhower Fellow, DemNet   

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