Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Member reflections from the forum

Read a selection of reflections from members who attended the 6th World Water Forum - on the highs, the lows, the learning and what they'll take home.

Sharing and learning

As a social activist from a poor area, I found the forum a great opportunity to share and learn with lot of professionals and experts. This is only event of this sort I have attended in my professional life.
Ali Akbar, FANSA Pakistan

As a social activist from a poor area, I found the forum a great opportunity to share and learn with lot of professionals and experts. This is only event of this sort I have attended in my professional life. No doubt this is an opportunity to streamline the efforts and sharpen the ideas, reasses the models and work done so far in any corner of world. I hope that this type of opportunities will continue.
Ali Akbar, FANSA Pakistan

I have been sharing our challenges with other members in Latin America, where water management is sometimes very poor. We have been learning from other experiences and about new technologies and methodologies to improve their own system and we will bring back our experiences of sharing and building new ties to strengthen our work.
FANCA member  Edwin Cruz, Asociacion de Juntyas por el Agua del Porvenir - Honduras

I went to a very good session run by the Swiss government on best practice to guarantee and monitor access and water for all. It presented a good way forward on issues we must take into account in order to succeed, including policies, progressive financing, participation for all, commitments and the need to change indicators to reflect the rights to water and sanitation.

I knew the issues and challenges before but now I have a clearer picture of what to ask my government when I go back to Kenya. My question will be: have we developed more indicators to focus on monitoring rights and the access to safe water and targets?

Also, when I was a panelist on a session about the MDGs run by WSSCC called Looking back beyond the MDGs: basic sanitation and hygiene for all we were talking about the global sanitation fund and I raised the point that we need leadership and institutionalization for sanitation – in countries where there is a specific ministry of public health, there is clear collaboration. If you don’t coordinate, you are just doing piecemeal work, it’s not good for up-scaling sanitation. Kamal Kar, CLTS pioneer, agreed with me and the minister for Malawi, who was moderating, included my point in recommendations that came out of the session.
Catherine Mwango, ANEW Vice Chair

I spoke to someone from the WHO about the JMP statistics which we have been challenging because it does not include shared latrines which serve many people. He threw it back to me and said that governments have to create some criteria. Now I will go back to my government to say they need to do this to better reflect the coverage. 
Benjamin Arthur, ANEW

In my work, we know about the need to address disability needs but integrating it into our programs is not there. The South African minister Mark Bannister presented a case study on what they are developing for disability in South Africa. Going forward, all of us, those of us working in advocacy, should make these issues part of what we should promote, disability affects 10% of the population, we can’t ignore them.

I spoke to someone from the World Health Organisation about the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) statistics which we have been challenging because it does not include statistics on shared latrines which serve many people. He threw it back to me and said that government has to create some criteria. Now I will go back to my government to say they need to do this to better reflect the coverage. 
Benjamin Arthur, ANEW

It is great to learn what others are doing and to come. For us, there are many challenges but when you hear about how others have been addressing the problems, you can take this home. For example, I went to a session on community management of water services in Indonesia where they have set up cooperatives, to enhance collaboration and accountability. I will discuss with partners back home this system of establishing legal entities at the local level.
Henry Ochieng, ANEW

Networking and relationships

It’s been good to meet Africans and people from Latin America. Everything is learning. That is the spirit I take with me. It could be people’s experience, it could be talking to people, that is my personal gain. And something I can take back is the global perspective of water, a global understanding of the issues.   
Shafiqul Islam, FANSA Bangladesh

I have had the opportunity to meet senior government officials I have never met before and we had a long conversation about how we can work together going forward.
Henry Ochieng, ANEW

I have had the opportunity to meet senior government officials I have never met before and we had a long conversation about how we can work together going forward.
Henry Ochieng, ANEW

Advocacy and the political process

I feel the declaration is too broad, we need to bring it to the lower level in terms of implementation. But I thought it was interesting that before the declaration was read out, a representative of the minister of finance in Niger said 2020 is too far to wait for progress on the post-MDGs.

I feel the declaration is too broad, we need to bring it to the lower level in terms of implementation.
Ben Arthur, ANEW

The African development fund has resources but we have not even been able to use half. For me this is a profound problem that our governments should consider seriously. Civil society, too, need to look at blockages, to find out and advocate for better utilization of these resources. The impression I get it that there is always an action plan, but the implementation is missing so we have to move from the action plan to implementation.
Ben Arthur, ANEW


One of the biggest concerns I am highlighting at the forum is the exploitation of natural resources for large projects.
FANAS member Luis Carlos, Corambiente, Colombia


One of the biggest concerns I am highlighting at the forum is the exploitation of natural resources for large projects. As a solution, I am proposing that ties between local governments and communities are strengthened to counteract mining interests and the exploitation of water resources.
FANAS member Luis Carlos, Corambiente, Colombia

The forum

The best thing about the forum has been all the learning. The worst is the set up, it’s too big, it’s too scattered. You spend too much time running about trying to find out what is a good session.
Catherine Mwango, ANEW Vice Chair

This is a huge conference. There's not much space for the people, the grassroots, much more a promotion of many technical aspects relating to water. Some of the seminars, because of the language barier, I'm not sure if they are properly understood and articulated and time constraints mean there is not much space for open discussion. There are a lot more issues to discuss in the sessions. Points are raised but not really elaborated. If you ask about the message that the expert panels would like us to take back to our countries, the message is not clear. Some of  the solutions may only be applicable for that particular country.

We call it world water forum so more micro level intiatives need to be presented. People on the ground are still struggling. We need to see solutions that people can take away and apply. That space is not here. There's a lot of focus on technology but we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Lots of things are being promoted that are old and just repackaged and there's lots of trade promotion. For example, I saw a presentation on a desalination project but that is not an appropriate solution for local level where groundwater has been salinated. It is not so relevant to developing countries.
Shafiqul Islam, FANSA Bangladesh

The best thing about the forum has been all the learning. The worst is the set up, it’s too big, it’s too scattered. You spend too much time running about trying to find out what is a good session. I am happy to see so many sessions on the rights to water and sanitation and I really enjoyed the nine solutions from the Butterfly Effect. They were all very different, we covered a lot.
Catherine Mwango, ANEW Vice Chair

We call it world water forum so more micro level intiatives need to be presented. People on the ground are still struggling. We need to see solutions that people can take away and apply. That space is not here.
Shafiqul Islam, FANSA Bangladesh

The best thing about the forum is all the learning and sharing through meeting people and learning little tips ad tricks and picking up materials. Every year, we organise a water, sanitation and hygiene conference in Ghana called the Mole conference, one thing I am thinking of focusing on this year is equity and inclusion and I got a lot of ideas from this conference on that topic as well as on menstrual hygiene in schools.
Ben Arthur, ANEW

The forum is very big! It feels like we are missing something out of everything. Not sure if everyone had the opportunity to share everything, I would like to a mechanism to ensure that everybody has a chance to share and express their view. Some kind of centralized information flow.

I didn’t see very strong representation from civil society. How can we mobilise there to be as many people as possible? I know many people who would have had a lot to share. This is a good process, we need to make sure extend the opportunities for people for get involved.
Henry Ochieng, ANEW

Notably, as civil society, we were able to share not just big expensive projects as examples of success but also models developed and implemented by communities.
FANCA member Omar Nuñez, AHJASA, Honduran Association of water system administration boards


Notably, as civil society, we were able to share not just big expensive projects as examples of success but also models developed and implemented by communities. Furthermore, states (such as the Inter American Development Bank) sessions showed interest in local solutions by raising questions about water and sanitation in indigenous communities.
FANCA member Omar Nuñez, AHJASA, Honduran Association of water system administration boards

It has been great to see diverse groups presenting all their solutions. This is an ideal meeting to map out solutions to global challenges. Personally, I have learnt there cannot be tangible solutions to the problems we are facing without the inclusion of local communities.

My attendance at the forum is a great opportunity not only for me, but for my country too. What I have learnt here I will share with the network and others in Malawi. I go to the radio stations, media and tell them what I have learnt so that I know that what I have learnt is not just for my benefit but also the benefit of the whole network in Malawi.

One thing I can take back home, is what I have learnt about the Butterfly Effect as a collection of people with solutions to deal with the water issues. I feel that the coalition, having provided the opportunity for CSOs to interact and share knowledge. Bring people from diverse places with a collective voice feels inclusive and gives us greater strength that cannot be weakened easily.
George Chaima, ANEW

My attendance at the forum is a great opportunity not only for me, but for my country too. What I have learnt here I will share with the network and others in Malawi. I go to the radio stations, media and tell them what I have learnt so that I know that what I have learnt is not just for my benefit but also the benefit of the whole network in Malawi.
George Chaima, ANEW

Please share your own reflections by commenting below!