#WWWeek - key themes relevant to the WASH agenda


The Fund Coordinator GSI Specialist, Jose Mott, recently attended SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm in late August. Jose reflects on the event and some of the key themes relevant to the WASH agenda that emerged from the week long meeting that brought together 4,000 participants from 138 countries - the annual focal point for the globes water issues. 


The World Water Week theme for 2019 was Water for Society: Including All (Leaving No one Behind). The Australian Government (DFAT) supported a strong presence of the Fund and its associated partners, through having a shared booth for the Water for Women Fund (WfW) and The Australian Water Partnership (AWP). Fund partners Wateraid, SNV and UTS-ISF also attended the event, and were involved in a number of different sessions. 


The shared booth provided an opportunity to share information about the Fund and individual partner projects, including partner knowledge products developed as part of Water for Women projects. Along with SNV, Wateraid, UTS-ISF, the Fund Coordinator was directly involved through co-convening the seminar Women and Youth Living Apart Together and the side event Do No Harm: Reaffirming Principles and Practice.


The overall theme that resonated throughout the week was the need for improved governance and collaboration to drive better water stewardship, and how this is more urgent than ever, due to the existential threats that climate change poses on global, country and local levels. Effective and context sensitive partnerships for coordinated planning, policy, programming, data collection and monitoring are key to ensuring more equitable and sustainable outcomes for all in society. These outcomes will not be achieved without the empowerment of women, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.


At the closing ceremony, the Rapporteurs were asked to summarise their main takeaways from the week’s sessions in one word: Nexus approach, Innovation, Partnerships, Stewardship and Empowerment.


Below is a list of some of the key themes arising from World Water Week, that are relevant to the WASH agenda.


Menstrual Hygiene Management

“We need to increase donor attention and investment, and couple them with committed governments. To promote women’s economic empowerment, we need more programmes showing the link to outcomes for women and businesses. To break the taboo is a very challenging issue, it involves addressing social norms relating to what it means to be a woman.” (Aditi Krishna, Iris Group)


Disability Inclusion

“You can’t underestimate the power of being present where decisions are being made.” (Nalule Safia Juuko, Ugandan Parliamentarian – Person with a disability).

“People with disabilities must be involved in decision-making. You can’t expect people who have no experience of disability to understand what disabled people need.”

People with disabilities need to “amplify” their voices” to increase the representation of people with disabilities into leadership roles.


Leave No-one Behind

“Water is a connector of people. Leaving no one behind means connecting people in terms of your ideas, your knowledge, your resources.” (Hassanatu Mansaray, African Development Bank, Sierra Leone)


Partnerships and collaboration

“Collaboration, collective action and thinking outside the box. We need to document better and show the impact of what works.” (Diana Caceres, Water Integrity Network, Germany)


Gender equality and women’s empowerment

“It’s the first time I’ve noticed that gender is so embedded in everything. For me, this is a big, big shift – a sign that things are moving in the right direction.” (Shenaaz Moosa, SouthSouthNorth, South Africa).

“The number one thing is empowerment of women – if women are not in power, I don’t think equitable water provision will progress.” (Everlyne Nabakka, Uganda, Young Water Solutions / EcoUga Pads)


Water and Faith

“Faith based organisations are the oldest NGOs in the world, they have a long-term perspective and reach communities others don’t. If a preacher says: wash your hands, it makes more impact than if UNICEF tells you to do it.” (Henk Holstlag, Smart Centre Group)


Behaviour Change

“Behavioural change is about a sense of agency and empowerment. Top-down approaches will rarely reach their full potential. We must understand what makes people tick.” (Paula Caballero, Rare). We are social animals and as such, emotions usually trump reason. The fact that we care about what others think, means that if one individual changes, there is a good chance that others will follow suit.



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