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Posts Tagged ‘Millennium Development Goal’

Africa’s once in a generation opportunity

Posted by African Press International on December 17, 2013

Op-ed by WaterAid: Africa’s once in a generation opportunity

UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Op-ed by Lindlyn Moma, Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa (

Africa’s leaders have in their hands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the international development agenda, not just for their continent but for the whole globe.

Lindlyn Moma is Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa

Lindlyn Moma is Regional Advocacy Manager for WaterAid in Southern Africa

The continent’s leaders are in the midst of negotiating the Africa Common Position (ACP) on what the UN framework for development will look like after 2015. The outcome will be hugely influential.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pointed out that we are the first generation that has the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty. We must ensure that no one is left behind.

As we debate how to achieve this, we must not forget about the work yet to be completed on the UN Millennium Development Goals. These eight ambitious goals, set in 2000 to address hunger, extreme poverty and other issues crippling the developing world, run out in 2015.

Sanitation is the most off track of all of these goals. UN figures show some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation, while over a quarter — nearly 230 million people — practise open defecation.

This has devastating consequences for the continent. Over a thousand African children under the age of five die every day because of this lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban called upon the world to “urgently step up” its efforts and put sanitation at the heart of post-2015 development.

Failing to do so will carry measurable financial costs.

UN estimates suggest about 5% of the continent’s wealth is being lost from this lack of access to water and sanitation. If everyone had access to these services, it would add $33 billion US a year to the continent’s economies, according to a conservative 2012 estimate by economists at the World Health Organisation.

Ghana alone, for instance, according to a World Bank assessment, loses $290 million US each year to a lack of sanitation services. Kenya loses $324 million, Nigeria a staggering $3 billion.

Making access to sanitation and safe water a top priority in the African Common Position presents an opportunity for Africa’s children, and for economic growth. This is also in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with the UN-established High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, has already called for a new UN development goal of universal access to water and sanitation. In following that lead, African leaders can be seen to be listening to the voices of its citizens, including women and girls, who are calling for the prioritisation of water and sanitation post-2015.

As we now mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of justice for the African people, we also remember his calls for an African Renaissance.

Safe water and better sanitation can help address so many of the challenges Africa faces today, from reducing the HIV transmission rate to improving child health and school attendance. As Mandela himself said: “Water is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the African continent.”

By prioritising safe water and sanitation, Africa’s leaders can also ensure the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals is dealt with strategically. Africa’s leaders can set the continent onto a trajectory so that by 2030, everyone has access to this basic right to sanitation.

If we miss this opportunity, we risk leaving hundreds of millions of people on the continent behind, stranding them far from that promise of an African Renaissance.





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Improving Maternal Health

Posted by African Press International on November 15, 2013

Ethiopia Approves Plan to Improve Maternal Health

NEW YORK, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Ministry of Health has approved plan to accelerate progress on improving maternal health in Ethiopia in an effort that is expected to address the concern over the so far slow progress the country has made on meeting the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health (MDG 5) .

“Advancing better health is a gateway to development progress, lifting economies and societies. Meeting a woman’s need for sexual andreproductive health services will increase her chances of finishing her education, and breaking out of poverty,” saidUN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative Mr Eugene Owusu, emphasising the importance of fast-tracking actions for reducing maternal mortality in Ethiopia.

Recent data and trends placeEthiopia as one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world.

The 2010/11 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that Ethiopia has made limited progress over the last decadeto reduce maternal deaths but there is some concern that the trend might be reversing. The maternal mortality ratio declined from 871 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000to 673 in 2005; howeverthe maternal mortality ratio marginally increased between 2005 and 2010, to 676 per 100,000 live births in 2010.

The Ministry of Heath has undertaken measures to reduce maternal mortality through the provision of clean and safe delivery services at the health post level, skilled delivery and emergency obstetric care at facility level and family planning services at all levels of the health care system. To up-scale these efforts, experts drawn from the Government and various UN agencies have been able to adapt the MAF methodology to the Ethiopian context, and to identify systematically bottlenecks and prioritize acceleration solutions to speed up progress on MDG 5.

For women in the reproductive age (15-49 years), reproductive health problems constitute the leading cause of ill health and death. And because women are often the backbones of their families, these problems can affect the well-being of the whole family.Universal access to family planning; access to pre- and antenatal care; skilled attendance at all births; and timely emergency obstetric care when complications arise can prevent almost all maternal mortality and greatly reduce injuries of childbearing. Access to family planning alone can reduce unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and maternal death and disability, saving women’s lives and the lives of their children.

The MDG Accelerated Action Plan on Improving Maternal Health in Ethiopia was validated and endorsed by the Ministry of Health at a national conference in Addis Ababa on 8th of November 2013. The plan is based on the MDG Acceleration Frameworkand takes into account the fact that the rate of achieving MDG 5 varies across geographic regions and socio-economic groups in Ethiopia.

The MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) is an important tool increasingly used by countries to identify and remove barriers to MDG achievement. The MAF was developed by UNDP in 2010 and is supported by UN Development Group. Around 50 countrieshave applied the MAF to help them drive efforts to overcome the bottlenecks preventing progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.



United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


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Newly built latrines in Myanmar – but will they be working in 12 months?

Posted by African Press International on September 20, 2013

Newly built latrines in Myanmar – but will they be working in 12 months?

STOCKHOLM,  – The success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) water target and massive growth in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes have masked a little-discussed secret: WASH interventions frequently fail.

Rather than focusing on what is almost literally pouring money down the drain, donor reports and NGO websites prefer instead to boast of the numbers of water pumps drilled or toilets installed.

“You don’t take photos at a funeral,” said Dutch water expert George De Gooijer, who is based at the Netherlands’ embassy in Benin. “The lack of a link between results on the ground and the proposals is the one that needs to be solved.”

In 2012, an audit by the European Union (EU) sought to make that link between its officially completed WASH projects in sub-Saharan Africa and the reality on the ground – but found that more than half of the drinking water schemes surveyed had failed to deliver.

“Negligible positive outcomes” 

A key failure was in the management of the projects rather than the installation of the equipment.

Overall EU spending on water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa, from 2001 to 2010, amounted to more than one billion euros – and much of it is likely to have failed to produce the intended outcomes.

Hundreds of short-term WASH projects were implemented in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti – rapid construction schemes that have had little long-term impact, says Sasha Kramer, an ecologist and co-founder of the sanitation NGO Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods.

“This approach to sanitation interventions results in massive spending in the sector, impressive implementation statistics for NGOs and negligible positive outcomes for community beneficiaries,” Kramer said.

The UN in Haiti is actually blamed by many analysts for causing the world’s worst recent outbreak of cholera, which killed more than 8,000 people and infected at least 600,000.

This year, the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact found that a government water project in Sudan’s Darfur region had created “aid dependency” with little focus on creating a durable solution.

The long list of failures is all the more painful because water and sanitation are universally recognized as critically important.

Low-quality water and sanitation systems create acute vulnerabilities during natural disasters. When earthquakes and floods strike, it is frequently the subsequent population movements, water-source contamination and unsanitary conditions that create the most dangers to human life.

Sixty percent of the world’s population has dysfunctional or non-existent sanitation, says Arno Rosemarin, a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute. There is “no other global statistic leading to high risk that comes close to this one,” he said.

Speaking at this month’s World Water Week in Sweden, he said WASH – particularly sanitation – was “a failing chapter in human development.”

Humanitarian accounting

Donors like concrete, measurable targets. In a WASH sector looking to reduce open defecation and control human waste, this has often meant building toilets – what some analysts call a “vending machine” approach.

Rosemarin says, “There’s a big difference between having a toilet and having a toilet that works.”

In India, which has some of the highest rates of open defecation in the world, the government has embarked on a vast programme of toilet building. The results are so far extremely mixed, says Prakash Jumar from the WASH Institute in India.

Jumar says communities have often been completely left out of the implementation process; sometimes to the extent that they do not use the new toilets because they fail to realize the toilets were built for them.

Poor construction quality has meant that 30-40 percent of toilets have been abandoned, repairs are nearly impossible because of nonexistent supply chains for spare parts, and even when still standing, many are used for storage rooms rather than for defecation.

“We have a lot of lessons learned, but we are not implementing [them] in national and major sanitation programmes. We need to integrate these failures,” Jumar said.

He says the key is community engagement.

“When the community is [involved, they] often don’t then need support from the government. That was one of the major lessons learned from 10 years in the region.”

Global water sector figures say half of water projects end up failing because of a lack of community involvement.

Emergency aid 

Many WASH projects are implemented during humanitarian emergencies, when broken water and sanitation systems can create massive health risks.

“There’s a big difference between having a toilet and having a toilet that works”

But in the rush to intervene in places like refugee camps, basic steps are often not taken – like building adequate drains in areas with high rainfall and not installing flush toilets where water is scarce, according to Katarina Runeberg, an environmental advisor with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

There are often multiple actors seeking to respond in a crisis, with no one looking holistically at the whole WASH cycle.

And in many cases, humanitarian actors are trying to implement adequate water and sanitation systems where none existed even before the crisis.

Even before its earthquake, Haiti had the lowest sanitation coverage in the northern hemisphere and the world’s highest incidence rates of diarrhoea, for example.

Long-term perspective 

But even in the world of development, donor deadlines are frequently tight, adequate measurables can be difficult to find, and construction continues to be favoured over operation and maintenance.

“WASH systems inherently require long-term operations and maintenance. And to ensure the ongoing maintenance of a WASH system, community engagement and long-term planning are critical,” said Kramer.

But projects implemented from outside rarely have the sort of long-term funding needed for maintenance and regular assessment. One rare example is the Netherlands, which is attempting to make sure implementing partners aim for 10-year sustainability, says De Gooijer, but this can be difficult to implement.

“We are very frequently limited through time-framing that we need to complete by a certain date, and spend money by a certain date,” said Patrick Fox, an advisor to the disaster unit at the Swedish Red Cross.

They have begun using “Look Back” studies to check up on WASH projects two to five years later. In the case of their work in North Korea, they initially found 80 percent of projects were no longer functional. Problems included a lack of local familiarity with the materials used (like PVC piping), and the use of sewage as fertilizer before it was safe to do so – issues they were able to correct.

“If you think you’ve discovered something good, leave it alone in the field for two years and then see if it is working,” said Peter Morgan, an award-winning WASH inventor and scientist who has been implementing projects in Zimbabwe for decades.

A Syrian refugee in Iraq tries to unblock a ‘grey’ water channel at his camp

But donors have yet to establish concrete funding mechanisms for these kinds of long-term assessments.

This leads to the broader question of just how practical it is for outside humanitarian and development actors to be even trying to implement large-scale WASH systems.

Morgan says the success of a mass-deployment of specially designed ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines could be attributed largely to the fact that it was approved and implemented by the Zimbabwean government itself. He says governments and users need to be strongly associated with any projects if they are to avoid failure.

“Local people are incredibly innovative, and if you are a humble character you need to open your eyes and look at that,” he said. “People live there. They don’t drive off in a fancy 4×4 vehicle and vanish in the dust. They actually live there.”

Few, if any, countries can claim to have a large-scale WASH system thanks to international NGOs, which Kramer says frequently lack “cultural fluency” and have an “inability or unwillingness to engage with local communities.”

Donor pressure 

Canada’s Engineers Without Borders produces an annual “Failure Report”. The organization found that around half of all failures were not related to conditions in recipient countries, but rather derived from internal planning, communication, decision-making and personal leadership.

Yet it remains extremely difficult for UN agencies, international NGOs and local actors to say that their WASH projects were failures. Donors want to see successful track records, and no one wants to fund a fiasco.

“It’s not fashionable enough to talk about failure,” said Rosemarin

For communities receiving water and sanitation projects, the lack of honest engagement can create barriers.

“The walls of fear, distrust and misperception affect international interventions in all sectors, but are particularly disruptive to WASH interventions, where quick fixes are not possible and successful projects are completely dependent on community engagement,” said Kramer.

Otherwise, as one aid worker from Uzbekistan reported, villages may be successively visited by different NGOs installing the same sanitation project one year after the next.

“Getting negative feedback could be more valuable than the opposite,” said Morgan. “If you have failures, then the very least you can do is to find out what went wrong.”

jj/rz  source

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Sweden: Improving water and sanitation

Posted by African Press International on September 9, 2013

STOCKHOLM,  – A leading water think tank today issued a call for a post-2015 development target on water aimed at making better use of scarce water supplies, realising the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and increasing resilience to droughts and floods by 2030. 

The appeal, from the Stockholm International Water Institute, came after a week of discussions and consultations with aid agencies, development organizations and water experts on how to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which set a 2015 target to improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

“The MDGs have provided an incredible focus for the international development agenda and served as a rallying cry at a time when support for international goals was waning,” said Michel Jarraud, chair of UN-Water. “Water-related challenges hit the poor the hardest – this is where we should focus our efforts. We now need to build on what we already have and how to make the next goals even better.”

This issue was one of the key topics of debate World Water Week, an event that winds up today, in Stockholm. The next 12 months are seen as essential to securing a target for water and sanitation that will help guide relief and development efforts for the next 15 years.

Yet despite positive indications from the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a dedicated water/sanitation target is not guaranteed; water experts fear years of difficulty if the process is botched, and there were signs at last year’s Rio+20 summit that world leaders may be lacking enthusiasm for new water pledges.

“Not having a water goal will only complicate our job of keeping water very high on the public agenda,” said Bart Devos from the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW).

Mixed MDG outcomes

Since the MDG target baseline year, 1990, at least two billion people have gained access to a source of improved drinking water. But nearly 800 million are still left out; of them, 40 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Not having a water goal will only complicate our job of keeping water very high on the public agenda”

“It [the MDG water target] was useful because it made governments think about what they were doing and how well they were doing. But it also went through a couple of hiccups, which were quite educative,” Mike Muller, from the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Public and Development Management, told IRIN.

“When ministers thought that all they had to do was to put pipes in the ground and taps on the end of them, they focused on infrastructure provision, and they were able to say ‘We’ve provided infrastructure for millions of people’. There was just one problem in many cases – the infrastructure didn’t work.”

Indicators were later tweaked to try to make sure only water services that worked were counted.

The global water target was achieved five years early, in 2010, but sanitation has remained a tougher objective; 2.5 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Diarrhoea is the second biggest cause of death in many developing countries, and 1.1 billion people are defecating in the open.

The challenge of sanitation is likely to increase as urban populations rise; the World Bank estimates 70 percent of China’s population will be in towns and cities by 2030.

The MDG water and sanitation target helped stimulate action by countries, donors and agencies; it was aspirational and could be measured and communicated.

What they were less strong on was tackling inequality, which campaigners hope will be more strongly emphasized in the post-2015 targets, dubbed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

But that may be a harder challenge, particularly with universal water and sanitation targets that mask regional variations. But Amanda Marlin from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) says they should not just aim for easy targets.

“The MDGs have helped us, but we want to do better post-2015. We don’t want to just go for the low-hanging fruit, just trying to bring down numbers, and that the hardest to reach are left out again and again.”

What to aim for

Unlike the development of the MDG targets, devising the SDGs has involved a wide-ranging and sometimes bewildering consultation process, which has left room for lobbying and comments from all parts of the sector.

Though all see water and sanitation as basic issues, there are a variety of views about the best strategy to embrace.

Many, including those behind today’s Stockholm Statement, argue for a standalone or dedicated goal aiming at a variety of targets. Popular suggestions include a target to end open defecation and a target for universal access to water and sanitation.

Millennium Development Goals
Target 7a: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
Target 7c: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

And there is a desire to move beyond quantity to look at quality – how safe is the water, is it free from pollution, and do the toilets that were built still function? Should there be a target for installed water and sanitation facilities in schools and health centres? Should there be an equality element?

“We need convincing targets, and we need [to see] that they are based on measurable indicators. We are not there yet. A lot of people are proposing too many targets, far too many,” said Gérard Payen, from the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB).

Other suggestions include aiming for fresh water withdrawals to match what is sustainable to supply, and some sort of goals on handwashing and menstrual hygiene.

For each target, there needs to be a way to work out whether the objective was reached, a condition that makes some targets less workable. Measuring the wrong proxy indicator could lead to unintended or even negative results.

“These indicators and goals can really be useful, and can make people concentrate on what they’re trying to achieve. But also we should learn that we have to shape them very carefully or else you might have perverse incentives and people start doing the wrong things,” said Muller.

If the water community does not go into discussions early next year with one voice, Muller worries, they may end up with a result that satisfies no one.

“It’d be much better if we went in with a really well-constructed set of goals. Otherwise, what happens – and that’s what happened with the MDGs – is you go with a huge shopping list, it doesn’t make sense, they all agree that there’s got to be a goal, and somebody kind of cooks it up late at night, and it’s a bad compromise,” said Muller.

Go it alone?

One difficulty the sector faces is that water is clearly related to several other humanitarian and developmental sectors like health and education – linkages that were never captured in the original MDGs.

Some, like Muller, argue that it may be a good idea to put water and sanitation targets in other areas like health, in order to spread obligations and resources.

“We have to be aware that we can’t achieve everything on our own,” said Nina Odenwaelder, from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). “We need to have shared responsibilities; inter-linkages need to be more fully discussed.”

But many fear abandoning a standalone goal would split the sector: “If you spread water goals among other goals, it will only foster giant competition for water resources between those sectors,” said Devos.

For more on these issues, listen to a special IRIN podcast recorded at World Water Week with guests Joakim Harlin (UNDP) and Torgny Holmgren (Stockholm International Water Institute)

Regardless, cross-sector partnerships will be a crucial part of improving access to basic water services, experts say.

There is also a strong push to look into waste water management and water resource management, which were not really addressed in the MDG water target. These are “not unfinished business, but business we haven’t yet attended to properly,” said Joakim Harlin, a senior water resources adviser with the UN Development Programme. An estimated 80 percent of waste water is discharged into open water, he says.

But putting waste water into the SDG water targets does not sit comfortably with everyone. Some say the natural environment can often cope with a certain amount of waste water, that waste water infrastructure tends to just benefit elites, and that the big water businesses could be behind the push for a target.

Others worry that it could simply be unhelpful to divide the sector into separate WASH, resource management and waste targets.

“If you now start separating water quality from water quantity, you disintegrate the integration that people have been working at for the past 40 years, so I think it’s a really short-sighted approach,” said Muller.

Data and responsibility

Data is a vital component of any target-based system; measurable goals bring accountability and attract funding.

But there remains a good degree of uncertainty about how much water there is and who is using it. Remote sensing data from satellites can provide some information, but its applicability is limited.

Targets need to reflect things that even developing countries might have or could have capacity to measure, including monitoring over time.

“I’m very sceptical about statistics, even though I believe strongly in knowing what we’re doing,” said Franz Marré, from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Some water experts even suggest making a target out of collecting water data.

And even basic definitions await clarification – for instance, is a borehole counted as a safe water point?

“The targets must be appropriate for action. They must give a clear message on what must be done and be clear about ownership. They also need to be attainable, and we need to know if we are on track or off track,” said Odenwaelder.

The question of who will be responsible for achieving the target and paying for it is the final challenge.

“Who is doing the monitoring? Who is paying for it? Where is the home? Who is doing all that work?” said Uschi Eid from the UNSGAB.

“I fear that if water is everybody’s business, then water is nobody’s business.”

jj/rz  source


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Women Deliver 2013 Concludes with a United Call to Invest in Girls and Women

Posted by African Press International on June 3, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga.


World leaders and advocates demand girls and women are prioritized in lead-up to 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline and beyond - Women deliver – Women deliver

Jill Sheffield and Melinda Gates present first-ever Women Deliver Rising Star Awards to young leaders fighting for progress for girls and women.
Women Deliver 2013 concluded yesterday  with a call for continued investments in girls and women.
The conference was the largest of the decade focused on girls’ and women’s health and rights, bringing together more than 4,500 leaders and advocates representing over 2,200 organizations and 149 countries.
The final day of Women Deliver 2013 focused on the critical need to prioritize girls and women in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline and beyond.
The morning plenary speakers—including United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen, African Women’s Development Fund CEO Theo Sawa and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark—addressed the importance of placing girls and women at the center of the next development agenda, and discussed advocacy strategies to keep girls’ and women’s needs in focus.
The appeal for action came one day before the United Nations’ High-Level Panel is expected to announce its recommendations for the post-2015 development framework. With progress lagging on the MDGs relating to women, policymakers and activists provided insights about how the next set of development goals can adequately and effectively address women’s health and empowerment.
In her remarks, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark called for a global development agenda “which gives priority to gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women to make their own decisions about the lives they lead.”
In the conference’s closing plenary, Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates recognized the next generation of leaders for girls and women and presented the first-ever Women Deliver Rising Star Awards to three emerging voices in the field of women’s health and rights:
·         Senator Pia S. Cayetano is the youngest woman elected in the history of the Philippine Senate, a champion of the rights of women and children and a staunch advocate for health. Armed with the training of a lawyer, discipline of an athlete and heart of a mother, Senator Pia excelled in her first term as legislator and was reelected to a second term in 2010.
·         Imane Khachani, MD, MSc. is a Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Maternity Hospital Les Orangers, in Rabat, Morocco. She has extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health research and advocacy, particularly for adolescent and young women; and has collaborated with several UN agencies, including UNFPA, WHO and UNAIDS. She currently sits on the Women Deliver and the Guttmacher Institute Boards of Directors.
·         Remmy Shawa works at Sonke Gender Justice in Cape Town, South Africa, and coordinates a project to strengthen work with men and boys in the promotion of gender equality and in ending violence against women in Africa.
Jill Sheffield and Melinda Gates also recognized the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, an international group of activists under 30 who received scholarships to attend the conference because of their work on behalf of women and girls.
The need to engage and include youth in the next development framework was a key theme throughout Women Deliver 2013, and young people’s voices and perspectives were highlighted throughout the meeting.
“This week at Women Deliver 2013, we have changed history for girls and women everywhere. We renewed our commitments, shared lessons learned, and listened to those leading the way on women’s health and rights, including young people who will carry this important work forward for years to come,” said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. “Most importantly, we have joined together to raise our voices in a single call to action—girls’ and women’s health and rights must be prioritized today, tomorrow, and every day until our work is done. Because we know, when girls and women survive, all of us thrive.”


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Everyone’s lives have to be transformed by growth

Posted by African Press International on June 2, 2013

Everyone’s lives have to be transformed by growth

JOHANNESBURG,  – After nine months of consultations, the UN High Level Panel on determining the world’s post-2015 development agenda has issued a report calling for a path to sustainable development which will transform the lives of the very poorest.

Set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and co-chaired by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, it elaborates a vision of how the world should develop and grow after the expiry in 2015 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

While praising the achievements of the MDGs, the Panel said they had failed, among other things, to reach out to the very poorest and most excluded people; to highlight the devastating effects of conflict and violence on development; and promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

Spurred on by the central idea to eradicate poverty by 2030, the Panel also said development needed to be driven by five transformative shifts: Leave no one behind; put sustainable development at the core; transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth; build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all; forge a new global partnership.

“What is particularly encouraging is that it sticks its neck out and chooses priorities, instead of an all-inclusive menu that is virtually impossible to monitor, much less implement”

The Panel recommends that almost all targets should be set at the national, or even local, level to account for different starting points and contexts.

Better focused?

Debby Guha-Sapir, director of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, told IRIN: “What is particularly encouraging is that it sticks its neck out and chooses priorities, instead of an all-inclusive menu that is virtually impossible to monitor, much less implement. The indicators listed are much more specific and better defined than the first phase of the MDGs and will therefore not only be actionable but also measurable. I was particularly heartened to note that comparable indicators, metrics and data are clearly mentioned which means we can look forward to more rigorous attention being paid for better data.”

On which topic the report’s executive summary calls for “a data revolution for sustainable development, with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens. We should actively take advantage of new technology, crowdsourcing, and improved connectivity to empower people with information on the progress towards the targets.”

“Targets will only be considered `achieved’ if they are met for all relevant income and social groups.”

For instance, on setting a universal goal to eradicate poverty, the Panel suggests each country could set its own target to bring the number of people living on less than US$1.25 a day to zero and reduce by x percent the share of people living below that country’s 2015 national poverty line. Each country would also set a target to increase by x percent the share of women and men, communities and businesses with secure rights to land, property and other assets; cover x percent of people who are poor and vulnerable with social protection systems; build resilience and reduce deaths from natural disasters by x percent.

jk/cb source

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In 2001 just 73,000 Burkinabés could access clean water, according to research by Peter Newborne at the Overseas Development Institute,

Posted by African Press International on May 18, 2013

OUAGADOUGOU,  – Earlier this year Denis Ouedraogo, a tailor living in the Tampouy neighbourhood just north of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, connected his mud-walled home to the water network for the first time. “Even without electricity, having enough water can make you happy,” he said.

He is among 1.9 million people to have connected to the government water grid since 2001, thanks to major changes in how the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA) delivers water to urban Burkinabés.

In 2001 just 73,000 Burkinabés could access clean water, according to research by Peter Newborne at the Overseas Development Institute, which is trying to track and communicate examples of progress on development.

In 2002 just half of Burkina Faso residents had access to clean water. In 2008 (the latest statistics available) this had risen to 76 percent – 95 percent in urban areas. The plan was to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to double the number of those with access to clean water, in this case to 87 percent, by 2015. Those tracking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) progress in Burkina Faso, say the goal will be surpassed.


A number of factors made this possible: ONEA was nationalized and restructured in 1994 following a period in which it had become unprofitable and poorly functioning. The new national company ran along commercial lines, instilling a culture of performance and efficiency, said Newborne.

The second priority was to find a bulk water supply, in this case by building the Ziga dam 45km from the capital.

A mixture of government grant funds (from France and other European donors) and concessionary loans at low interest rates (predominantly from the World Bank), provided the required finances. This helped them bring costs down: for instance, connecting to the grid now costs a household US$61, down from on average $400 in the 1990s, according to ONEA’s chief operating officer, Moumouni Sawadogo.

Next came the work: building a network of pipes throughout Ouagadougou, including in the city’s unzoned [unplanned] suburbs, which house one third of the capital’s residents and had hitherto been overlooked in terms of household water supply.

“Even in non-zoned areas, people can pay their water bills,” said Halidou Kouanda, head of NGO Wateraid in Burkina Faso, citing a 2011 ONEA study noting that financial recovery rates in unzoned neighbourhoods were 95 percent.

Now, with a steady income and an 18 percent leakage rate, ONEA is one of the best-performing water utility companies in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank.

Targeting the poor

While targeting unzoned areas upped the percentage of urban dwellers who could access clean water (thus helping to meet the MDG), it did not ensure that water was affordable.

Now ONEA needs to try to target the poor, as it pledged to do in an initial equity strategy agreed with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.

As part of its strategy, ONEA built 17,290 wells and standpipes for some areas without household-level connections. Water from a standpipe costs 60 CFA (11 US cents) for a 220 litre barrel (transported on wheels). But the very poor cannot afford such barrels, turning instead to water vendors who sell the same amount for 200-500 CFA (40-98 cents) depending on the season.

Thus paradoxically, the poorest families pay up to eight times more than others for their water.

ODI is discussing different pro-poor targeting methods that might work, including: subsidizing part of the water supply for certain households; targeting poor areas; allocation by housing type; means-testing; community-based targeting; or self-targeting.

At the moment, all households are charged the same connection tariff. “Is this equitable? We think not,” said Newborne. “You could means-test it; you could waive the connection charge for some; or charge the first X cubic metres at a different rate,” he suggested, adding that lower-income households could pay bills weekly or on a pay-as-you-go basis, to keep track of costs. “Think of how mobile phone companies have fixed their pricing plans to be accessible,” he said. 

The concern is that households who experience running water for the first time may use more than they can afford, then falling behind and drop off the grid, said WaterAid’s Kouanda. This happened to 6.8 percent of Ouagadougou’s ONEA customers in 2009.

Families must be made aware of this risk, said Kouanda. But many customers are so nervous of this happening, that they practice their own careful monitoring.

Ami Sidibé, who lives in Somgandé neighbourhood, which was connected to the water mains three months ago, said she continues to fill jerry cans – using tap water – to monitor her household’s use. “I’ll do anything to avoid returning to the situation before,” she told IRIN.

Reduced disease risk?

No studies have yet been published linking the spread of the water network with the incidence of disease, but some Somgandé residents who were recently connected to the grid said their children were falling sick less frequently. Water-borne illnesses are among the top five reasons for children’ health visits, according to the Health Ministry.

Future challenges will include how to extend such networks to rural areas, which are currently under-serviced in terms of clean water: 72 percent of rural Burkinabés access clean water, versus 95 percent of city residents.

The local authorities are responsible for rural water supply under Burkina Faso’s decentralized governance system.

According to a just-published report Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2013 Update by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, striking disparities remain between rural and urban water access, with rural communities making up 83 percent of the global population without access to an improved water source.

bo/aj/cb source

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Iraq: Across the board, women are suffering more now than they used to do

Posted by African Press International on May 13, 2013

DUBAI,  – In the 1980s, the UN says, Iraqi women enjoyed more basic rights than other women in the region. But years of dictatorship, sanctions and conflict, including the US-led invasion one decade ago, led to deterioration in women’s status.

“Across the board, women are suffering more [than they used to],” said Sudipto Mukerjee, deputy head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

Despite steps taken towards gender equality since 1990, Iraqi women today do not have equal educational or employment opportunities, and too many are subjected to gender-based violence

Due to years of war and political instability, 10 percent of households are headed by women, most of them widowed, but many of them divorced, separated or caring for sick spouses.

“They represent one of the most vulnerable segments of the population and are generally more exposed to poverty and food insecurity as a result of lower overall income levels,” the UN said in a March 2013 fact-sheet.


According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) conducted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the government, the ratio of girls to boys in primary school rose from 0.88 in 2006 to 0.94 in 2011; in secondary school, the ratio rose from 0.75 in 2006 to 0.85 in 2011. According to IRIN calculations, the enrolment of girls is growing at a faster rate than that of boys.

However, had Iraq progressed at the same rate as other countries in the region, according to UNICEF, it would have already reached 100 percent enrolment for both boys and girls in primary schools – achieving the third Millennium Development Goal of eliminating gender disparity in education.

According to Iraq Knowledge Network (IKN) survey of 2011, 28.2 percent of women 12 years or older are illiterate, more than double the male rate of 13 percent. Young women – those aged 15 to 24 – living in rural areas are even less educated; one-third of them are illiterate.


Similar inequality can be seen in the labour force.

According to the IKN survey, only 14 percent of women are working or actively seeking work, compared to 73 percent of men. Those who are employed are mostly working in the agricultural sector, and women with a diploma have a harder time finding jobs: 68 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree are unemployed.

The representation of women in parliament increased from 13 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2006, meeting the one-quarter female representation quota imposed in 2005, but this is still far below the national target of half.

Physical safety

Women’s health concerns have seen some gains. The percentage of births attended by skilled personnel has risen significantly in the last decade. And the maternal mortality rate – which at 84 per 100,000 births in 2006 was the highest in the region – appears to have dropped significantly, to 24 per 100,000 in 2011, according to the World Health Organization.

Still, domestic violence, honour killings, female genital mutilation (FGM) and human trafficking remain threats to many Iraqi women and girls. In the northern autonomous Kurdistan region, 42.8 percent of women have experienced FGM, according to the 2011 MICS.

In 2011, nearly half of girls aged 10 to 14 were exposed to violence at least once by a family member, and nearly half of married women were exposed to at least one form of spousal violence, mostly emotional, but also physical and sexual, according to a survey by the government and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

ha/rz  source


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Major price cut for five-in-one vaccine

Posted by African Press International on April 22, 2013

NAIROBI, 1- The cost of vaccinating children with the pentavalent vaccine – a five-in-one formulation – is set to drop significantly following a deal between the GAVI Alliance and an Indian drug manufacturer that is reducing its price by 30 percent.

GAVI will now be able to purchase the pentavalent vaccine – which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, heptatitis B and Haemophilius influenzae type b – from Indian firm Biological E for US$1.19 per dose, down from its current price of $2.17 (and down from $3.56 per dose a decade ago). Millions of children in 73 GAVI-eligible countries are set to benefit from the price drop, which will free up an estimated $150 million for GAVI over the next four years.

“Working to secure price reductions means we are able to make our funding go further, reaching more children and protecting more lives,” a GAVI Alliance spokesman told IRIN.

Experts say reductions in the price of vaccines – and the price of transporting and storing them, which often requires expensive refrigeration – will be crucial to lowering child mortality and meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal on child survival.

kr/rz source


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International meeting on energy and development in Oslo

Posted by African Press International on April 9, 2013

Energy is vital for development. Tomorrow, Norway will host an international high-level meeting on energy and the post-2015 development agenda.

The meeting will be opened by Crown Prince Haakon and chaired by Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, Mexican Minister of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell and Tanzanian Minister of Energy Sospeter Muhongo.

Mr Holmås commented, “1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Access to clean energy is crucial for global development. This high-level meeting is an important step towards ensuring that the issue of energy is addressed as effectively as possible in the future.”

Mr Holmås has recently returned from Tanzania, which, together with Mexico and Norway, is leading a global consultation process on sustainable energy. This forms part of the UN’s efforts to develop a new set of global development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.

Access to energy is often referred to as the “missing Millennium Development Goal” and is regarded as essential for achieving sustainable development. The purpose of the high-level meeting is to sum up the results of the various consultations that have been undertaken around the world, and formulate a set of recommendations, which will be submitted to the UN Secretary-General.

“My aim is that this high-level meeting will help to ensure that energy is included as a separate global development goal in the post-2015 agenda,” said Mr Holmås.

Some 250 participants are expected to attend the meeting. These include representatives of government authorities, international organisations, civil society, the private sector and young people from a number of countries, as well as Dr Rajendra K. Patchauri who received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation in Denmark, and Heidi Hautala, Minister for International Development in Finland.

Prior to the opening of the meeting, Mr Holmås and Crown Prince Haakon will meet young people from India, Tanzania and Mexico for a short discussion on energy in front of the art installation “Skriket fra naturen” (the scream from nature) on the Scandic Fornebu terrace at 08:45.




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