End Water Poverty has provided an alternative voice within the water and sanitation sector over the past year. We called for governments to protect people from Covid-19 and future pandemics by urgently realising their rights to safe water and sanitation. We helped expose the inhumane conditions faced by sanitation workers. We defended the UN Special Rapporteur after industry lobbyists tried to suppress his report on privatisation. We mobilised communities and civil society who are rarely the focus of global advocacy campaigns to deliver life-changing results: from engendering legislative change in Pakistan to refreshing water facilities in Nigerian hospitals and supporting over 1,000 people to successfully claim their rights to water in Zambia.
We are immensely proud of our members’ achievements. This coalition has the power to change the sector’s narrative by stressing the duty of states to provide water and sanitation as public services, not acts of charity. People living without safe water and toilets are not victims of tragic circumstance. The source of the water and sanitation crisis is neither scarcity nor lack of technology. This crisis stems from decisions made by those in power. From colonial legacies. From climate crises. From systemic discrimination against marginalised groups. From prioritising profit over people.
In other words, this crisis is profoundly political. It’s vital, therefore, that our work centres people’s agency and dignity. Whatever your nationality, wherever you live – whether on the streets, in prison or a refugee camp – water is your human right. We have a choice to either continue business as usual, fuelling a virtuous cycle of poverty and handouts, or stand with people as they claim their rightful share of development.
Featured image: Integrated Regional Support Programme Pakistan.