Water Action Month: citizens’ call for WASH for all in Zambia!

22 Feb 2016

End Water Poverty member, Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN) collects 10,000 signatures in a petition to government during Water Action Month in March: governments, keep your promises! 

Blog post written by Jackson Mwenya of VAREN, February 2016

In September 2015, world leaders met in New York to sign a new global framework for development called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consisting of 17 goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals. These will set the global development agenda for the next 15 years – with the main priority to “leave no one behind”. As all United Nations member states have made a clear commitment to this new development agenda, Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN) – Zambia, have renewed our advocacy calling for change!

VAREN has been part of End Water Poverty‘s “Keep Your Promises” campaign, implementing activities in Zambia since 2012. We have focused our advocacy agenda on putting the under-served and the unserved on the centre, to ensure that the voice of the voiceless are heard by government decision makers and to  demand for their rights to water and sanitation. We began our lead campaign, “Work with Us to Keep Your Promises on Water and Sanitation”, by launching a petition to collect 10,000 signatures from citizens from around our district with the demand for increased resources to improve the level of service on the provision of safe water and adequate sanitation for all. Through our work, we are asking the government to develop a clear plan to achieve the human right to water and ensure well targeted resources are in place to truly end water poverty. This is critical in our region as access to safe water in urban and peri-urban is only around 25%, leaving 75% of people with no access to safe water. People are now demanding government to mobilise US$32 million to support the commercial utility and address this crisis.

In December 2015, the collection for the 10,000 signatures was launched in all 11 districts within the Luapula region. Alongside this, all five community radio stations in the region were trained on the human rights based approach to water and sanitation. This was thanks to funding from WaterAid – Zambia, who have been supporting VAREN’s advocacy work from 2009 to date. The purpose is create strong links with media houses in order to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a key priority programme in all development agendas. This is also to ensure people understand their rights on WASH and how they can make their leaders accountable.

As the collection of the 10,000 signatures has been gaining momentum, particularly through the increased use of the media to provide updates on the high demand for water and sanitation, the Zambian Government have quickly mobilised US$ 40 million from the African Development Bank (ADB) to support the commercial utility from improve the level of service and establish water supply to newly created districts. This implies that at the end of these works it is expected to reach 75% coverage; a vast improvement from the 25% of the current situation.  Fantastic news and successful advocacy!

As we approach the day to hand over the petition to the Zambia government next month, as part of End Water Poverty’s Water Action Month in March, VAREN will focus on demanding the work schedule increases, so that we monitor the process and utilisation of the resources. We will continue our fight to ensure that the needs of the people are met, and that no one is left behind.

Together we can! Join Water Action Month in March to call for a better future for all!