Written by Jackson Mwenya, Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN), May 2015
The government of the Republic of Zambia has signed on to key international treaties and establishing a number of domestic policies and programmes to work towards realising the right by improving access to safe, affordable, available and sufficient water and sanitation. But not enough has been done. While access to water and sanitation has improved and efforts have been made, the government has not prioritised those most in need; vulnerable and marginalised groups such as women, children, the sick and the poor have been left behind. These groups still are drinking dirty water, walking very long distances to water sources, and are suffering due to continuing large-scale inequalities. The government needs to take further action to make effective change and improving people’s lives.
What VAREN has been doing
Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN) has been participating in public policy processes with other civil society organisations as ”watch dogs”, tracking and monitoring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) budgets and activities, and help to promote good practices. It has also been engaged with government at both at national and local levels in their advocacy work.
Our current policy engagement focuses on three main areas; policy analysis, public dialogue meetings, and budget tracking. We use the Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality (AAAQ) framework indicators to track and monitor WASH expenditure in Zambia, and are working to improve budget tracking and social accountability processes by integrating the AAAQ Framework in line with international human rights standards for the right to water. We all need to work together to better advocate for policy strengthening on economic, social and cultural rights.
Upcoming engagement at AfricaSan 4: May, 2015
African leaders have made many commitments to water and sanitation, but now we as civil society want to see specific indicators on how government is going to implement plans and move to the realisation of these commitments. The upcoming AfricaSan 4 conference is an important opportunity for civil society to hold governments accountable and so VAREN will be joining other End Water Poverty (EWP) members in calling for governments to keep their promises and commitments. We want to see very clear steps and plans as to how governments are going to domestically realise the human right to water and sanitation. As civil society, together we must improve our coordination to make sure governments implement WASH rights programmes, and work to enhance the capacities of organisations to engage in advocacy with national governments. We also encourage cross-country learning to share best practices so that we are continually improving and strengthening the sector. Being a member of EWP, we want to see a louder, united civil society voice calling for progressive realisation of the human right across the continent and pushing governments for real commitments and plans.
VAREN will be presenting at AfricaSan, along with the EWP Secretariat and other members, in the EWP workshop on 25 May on the human right to water and sanitation. This session will explore what the realisation of these rights actually means and will discuss how the new Pan African Commitment, which will be agreed at AfricaSan 4, can recognise and promote the human right to water and sanitation, through the Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality (AAAQ) framework and the SDGs.
Country Briefing- Keep Your Promises
As part of the ‘Keep Your Promises’ campaign, VAREN and EWP have produced a briefing paper on the current progress of the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation evident in Zambia. The briefing highlights the gaps and inequalities evident in people’s access, particularly with marginalised and vulnerable groups being left behind. This will form part of their comprehensive advocacy to lobby the government to realise the human right. The briefing is available for download: Zambia country briefing 2015
Vision Africa is a non-profit organisation, working to provide advocacy and capacity building services focusing on grassroots communities, school-going children and health workers. Their work prioritises improved water, sanitation and hygiene messaging for infection prevention. They champion behaviour change to make improved lives and access a reality. They also facilitate dialogue with policy makers and government to advocate for change.
For all information on EWP and the AfricaSan 4 conference ahead, follow us on Twitter @EndWaterPoverty @AfricaSan4 and on our website for up-to-date information about the event, the key issues and outcomes.