22/01/21Global Issues 

Water and sanitation for all means building local skills and knowledge in the long term

The EU’s push to improve the water and sanitation rights agenda across the world must focus on improving local skills and capability, according to AquaFed.

The international water and sanitation sector still has too much of a charity mindset and needs to focus more on sustainable approaches that leave operators and communities in developing countries more empowered and to rely less on donations.

Private water operators continue to develop partnerships with local universities to ensure they have local technical knowledge, and also engage proactively with local community groups who naturally understand how best to reach people with the right services.

AquaFed made these comments during a discussion on human rights and governance at the EU Water and Beyond conference today (21 January).  #WAB2021

Neil Dhot, AquaFed Executive Director, said: “Private operators are focusing on local partnerships that develop employees’ skills and knowledge and include local people in services delivery."

“The assistance that the EU and partners give must be even more focused on system strengthening and capacity building, as described by AquaFed and also WaterAid’s representative in Ethiopia.”

“If we really believe in water and sanitation for all, let’s build on the principles of equality and non-discrimination; and of participation.”

AquaFed took part in the event to also explain how private operators work under a wide range of contracts with public authorities to directly deliver services aligned to the human rights’ dimensions eg improving availability, accessibility, affordability etc. Also, private operators are subject to much greater scrutiny through greater transparency and accountability – further human right to water principles.

AquaFed fully supports the development of strategic partnerships as envisioned by the European Union and underlines that SDG6 will not be reached by 2030, nor will the human rights to water and sanitation be translated into reality if the private sector is not much more heavily involved, in the best possible ways and under the right governance and regulatory circumstances.