Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Africa Water Week - learning for action in Zambia

ANEW is becoming more visible regionally and globally as the voice of African civil society. We have received recognition from AMCOW and other important groups on the continent leading to opportunities like attending Africa Water Week so that we can interact, share and learn from delegates from different countries and better understand what others are doing and how we can do things differently. AWW is a valuable platform to interact with donors and government officials and various other important actors in the sector.

I have been attending the financing and capacity building sub-theme and various side events and I have learned quite a lot in particular about how to enhance coordination to accelerate the implementation of projects and activities to meet the MDG goals. One of the most key lessons Iearned however was around the rights to water and sanitation.

In Zambia, we have been pushing for free water provision as part of our advocacy on rights, but here it came out clear that the right to water does not mean free, and I think we have to revisit our approach. We will need to rethink what we ask for but using the rights based approach is increasingly important  because when we educate the community about what their rights are then they do not need us to stand for them. We help educate them and empower them and then when we are not there, they can make their demands on their own.

One thing that is not coming out clearly from the session is the capacity building message – particularly for local authorities who are the key players.  Every year in Zambia for example we have cholera outbreaks, but do we really have plans that one day these outbreaks will be history for us? How can we build the capacity of the local authority to not only handle the outbreaks but prevent and eliminate them? We don’t even know what resources they do have. We don’t know their plans, we don’t see the impact of the funds they do have in the communities we work with. There needs to be more transparency and accountability for funds, before we talk about greater financing. 

Zambia is also supposed to have a local government association where members of local authorities can meet and share information about implementation of local government projects and programmes. But this association is very weak and this is a large gap in coordination. Civil society would like to work with this association to support building their capacity and partner with them to achieve their goals.  

This is my first time attending Africa Water Week, thanks to being a member of ANEW and I am very happy to be here. We need to make sure that we translate what we have learned into action back home, mobilize resources and rise to the occasion and attain the MDGS. Zambia is one of the off-track countries so we need to use tools like monitoring mapping to know what services we have provided and meet these challenges.

First thing next Monday I will have a meeting to share what I have learned and put it into action. I am already working on my presentation. 

Kalaluka Mubu, ANEW member, Zambia NGO WASH Forum 

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