Campaigners in Nepal met with the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push for their support of the right to water and sanitation in ongoing negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Members of the National Campaign Coordination Team (NCCT) for the South Asian Right to Sanitation campaign joined with End Water Poverty to appeal for the right’s inclusion and naming in the SDG proposal report currently being prepared by a selection of UN member states – the UN Open Working Group (OWG).
The NCCT advocates – made up of WASH and non-WASH campaigners – called on the government secretaries to specifically reference the right to water and sanitation alongside other rights, and joined other EWP members around the world in submitting the coalition’s proposed targets and indicators for a water and sanitation SDG.
The suggested changes:
Current text: by 2030, provide universal access to safe and affordable drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene for all
Amend to: by 2030, to achieve universal access to safe, affordable and adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all, paying special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized, and for households, schools health facilities and refugee camps.
Current text: by 2030 provide universal access to safe and affordable sanitation and hygiene including at home, schools, health centres and refugee camps, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls
Amend to: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, affordable sanitation eliminating open defecation and hygiene including at home, schools, health centres and refugee camps, paying special attention to the needs of the most marginalized, including women and girls.
However, while the secretary of the MoUD was supportive of campaigners’ requests, the joint secretary of the MoFA claimed it was not necessary to treat the right to water and sanitation separately – even though Nepal is one of few countries where the human right to water and sanitation is recognized in an interim constitution, and several Constituent Assembly members committed during the World Walks campaign to lobby for the right’s inclusion in the country’s new constitution.
Secretary Kishore Thapa of the MoUD was convinced by the dialogue with campaigners. He said he would convey their messages to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for needful action. He also committed to lobby strongly for WASH in the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in November 2014, in Nepal. He also said it was possible that a meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership could be held in Nepal this year.
However, Joint Secretary of MoFA, Deepak Dhital, said that while he agreed that WASH is an integral element of development, it was not necessary to separately reference the human right to water and sanitation. He said it would be considered as part and parcel of the right to food, education, development and an adequate standard of living, adding that there must be a focus on marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities – ironically, such a focus on achieving equality and eliminating discrimination is a key focus of human rights principles.
Mr Dhital went on to explain that his priorities lie in issues such as water resource management, mountain resource management and climate change, which he believes are the determinants of WASH rights, before praising civil society groups for their interest in the global development agenda.
The campaigners hope to have a follow-up meeting with the UN agency working on the post-2015 agenda in Nepal.
In total, 12 representatives from 18 different organisations lobbied on behalf of the NCCT. These included: Freshwater Action Network-Nepal (FAN), Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO), Federation of Water and Sanitation Users Network (FEDWASUN), Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, National Federation of Disabled, Nepal (NFDN), Manushi (women’s WASH network), People’s SAARC, Plan International, Practical Action, WaterAid Nepal, Urban Environment Management Society (UEMS) and End Water Poverty. Backward Society for Education (BASE), Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD), Enviroment for Public Health Organization (ENPHO), Lumanti, Maitri, Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH) and OXFAM joined NCCT and End Water Poverty to reinforce the appeal.
This post is written by Ms. Samira Shakya — Advocacy and Campaigns Officer