• 11 February 2021

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    SENSEC, an experience, a feeling

    The SENSEC-EU cooperation project has spent 3 years working to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of Senegal's internal security services. To this end, many people have contributed their professional skills, one of them is Nuria Roncero, key expert in the border control and surveillance component, who tells us about her personal experience in this project.

    Picture of Nuria Roncero

    All journeys into the unknown begin with mixed feelings. The uncertainty that commonly forms part of our life becomes clearer and more evident. They are the same sensations one has when starting a holiday going to a distant and unknown country. In this case, you have to add the professional responsibility you are engaged in when going to start a new project. Very exciting, because I love my work; I’m very fortunate. 

    This is how my trip to Africa began, with a suitcase full of many years of professional experience and personal anecdotes and ready to take charge of tasks that I had no knowledge about in terms of how border security and management is carried out. 

    It wasn’t about leaving my comfort zone, it was all self-driven. 

    After a trip in which my inquisitive look at what is different to me was mixed with looks back expressing the same thing, I arrived at my destination, Dakar, with my eyes closed because at two in the morning the darkness  everything. The first weeks, in which I was bombarded with information, were followed by others which were more chaotic with border closures due to COVID, which at that time was beginning in our country and the rest of the world. All continents were affected and Africa was not going to be less so. 

    It was not easy. It wasn’t for anyone and it wasn’t for me either. 

    Africa has a different pace of life, different smells, different colours and different flavours from the ones I knew. 

    You have to dive into it all to understand the daily workings of a country that smile at you every day despite all the calamities and poverty.  Interpersonal relationships also have their own codes, such as the fact that some handsome, well-built Senegalese man asks you about your family as soon as they meet you. A coffee with another female member of the work team clarified the matter for me. It is typical before being asked out on a date, to be asked if you are involved with anyone, whether you have children or not or any other type of personal relationship. This question is answered by naming family members or saying what one feels appropriate at the time, opening or closing the door to more intense interactions.21 

    Little by little I got to know all the people who were part of this project, Police, Gendarmerie, Customs, administrators from all the Ministries, personnel from all parts of the world who are working in and for this country, Spanish colleagues stationed here for one reason or another and who give you all their support. 

    And so, building professional and personal connections, supported by the technical team from Madrid, we were creating border posts in strategic places, police stations to fight against irregular immigration and human trafficking, as necessary for them as for us, hangars for police aircraft, river detachments to fight against all kinds of illicit trafficking, creating manuals from scratch to ensure that all the training that we have given to more than 400 policemen, gendarmes and customs officers becomes permanent. 

    We have trained ultralight aircraft and drone pilots and we have taught them to navigate and monitor, with new boats, the area of the “mangroves of Sine Saloum”, a very beautiful area, where every type of piracy imaginable goes on. We have made great efforts to ensure that there is a little more security in a country where “téranga”, the spirit of hospitality, is its watchword. 

    And after a year of hard work, having left behind my initial feelings of fear and uncertainty, I will soon be getting on a plane with no return ticket for the moment, leaving much of my professional experience and many emotions behind in this country. I can assure you that the suitcase I am taking back is loaded with unrepeatable experiences. It took me all this time to get to know the true essence of Africa and I am convinced that there is still much to discover and many codes to decipher. 

    But that will be for the next trip to Senegal. 

    Nuria Roncero, key expert in the border control and surveillance component of the SENSEC-UE project 

  • 21 January 2021

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The constant adaptation of a cooperation project to change

    The MYPOL project has had to adapt to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the current situation in Myanmar in order to continue promoting the reform of its police force. María José Urgel, FIIAPP’s project coordinator, offers us an overview of MYPOL and the reassessment of its aims and activities.

    MYPOL is a FIIAPP-led European delegated cooperation project tasked with providing support to the Myanmar Police, offering a preventive and effective service and respecting international standards, human rights and gender awareness. 

    In order to achieve this ambitious goal, two offices have been set up in the country, one in Yangon and one in Nay Pyi Taw. From the field and in coordination with the FIIAPP headquarters in Madrid, we have focused on several areas of police intervention: improvements to criminal investigation and crowd management, modernisation of human resources and professional training, improved accountability and legal frameworks and ensuring a closer relationship between the police, civil society and the media.   

    For a little over a year and a half, FIIAPP has also incorporated a gender perspective in MYPOL. Today, it has a gender strategy and a women, peace and security programme in place, mainstreaming gender in the five areas of intervention and implementing the entire strategy at the institutional level.    

    Four partner cooperation agencies cooperate on the project– NICO from Northern Ireland, GIZ from Germany, DCAF from Switzerland and CIVIPOL from France – who pass on specific technical knowledge to the Myanmar police with a main focus on training, preparation of procedural guides and protocols and awareness-raising activities.    

    The exchange between public administrations, a fundamental characteristic of FIIAPP, is provided by the Spanish National Police, which heads up the mass management area.   

    In order to understand the context of MYPOL, the country’s history should be taken into account. Much of the current situation has been shaped by long years of military dictatorship, a protracted civil war with various ethnic groups coexisting which is still to be resolved and big social and cultural barriers that hinder the equality sought for women. There is also significant poverty that has been accentuated by Myanmar’s internal conflicts.      

    Since 2011, the country has been transitioning towards democracy, a process that has yet to be consolidated.In recent years, ethnic tension in the north of Rakhine state, better known as the Rohingya crisis (the Rohingya being a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country), has seen a dramatic increase in violence in the area, adding to tensions between the international community and Myanmar.   

    COVID-19 and the initial underestimation of its impact took us by surprise, representing an additional challenge. Within a few months, many of the training activities had to be temporarily suspended due to restrictions imposed by the government. This also affected the joint dialogues between the representatives of MYPOL, the police and the authorities.   

    In addition, in recent months, the MYPOL project has had to work within a complex political climate prior to the elections held in Myanmar last November, with mobility restrictions due to COVID-19 and continued violence in some areas of the country.   

    Nevertheless, the ability to adapt to change and the creativity employed by the entire team in order to adjust the strategy for MYPOL has ensured that the implementation of our activities represents an important contribution to the country, without losing sight of the project’s initial objectives. After a great deal of internal reflection, the decision was made to focus efforts on the following areas, among others: 

    – The strengthening of our capacity within MYPOL in gender matters, seeking to ensure that the experts who lead the different thematic areas of the project identify the most important gender aspects on which to work and measure their impact. As part of this institutional reinforcement, we have implemented our own sexual harassment and discrimination policy which is mandatory for all MYPOL personnel and which has been accompanied by a series of awareness-raising courses. 

    – The preparation of information brochures and the consolidation of police action coronavirus protocols which have been distributed throughout the capital. 

    – The provision of virtual workshops to replace face-to-face activities. 

    – The preparation of election orientation guides for police trainers that have focused further on the protection of freedoms and human rights, respect for the media and the provision of a safe environment, especially for women. 

    – The preparation of forensic action manuals and protocols to apply gender perspectives in police interviews. Guidelines have been drawn up regarding police arrest, following international security and human rights standards. 

    – The creation of new bodies in MYPOL, including the Critical Incidental Management Team which is responsible for analysing the COVID-19 situation in the country and its impact on the evolution of the project. 

    – The renovation of police unit training facilities and the provision of the equipment required to carry out criminal investigations correctly. 

    As part of this drive to adapt to change, we have kept two elements very much in mind – the importance of establishing local alliances and the need to strengthen relationships with our four partners.    

    Local alliances have helped us understand the consequences of all these changing circumstances. We have increased the number of national advisers and advisers specialising in police and gender matters as well as strengthening our alliances with civil society, especially with women’s organisations that have worked on gender awareness within the police for many years.    

    Strengthening relationships with our counterparts has helped us to better understand how the different approaches and specialist areas of our partners can be used in a more strategic way in the face of the current situation.    

    FIIAPP has taken advantage of all the opportunities for improvement that have presented themselves, even in the most difficult moments for the project. We have learned that taking advantage of difficulties has helped us to learn lessons from the social change processes undertaken and identify our achievements, limitations and potential in order to improve our work, this being an area we will continue to be committed to.    

    María José Urgel, coordinator of the FIIAPP MYPOL project 

  • 07 January 2021

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    “SEACOP has created the bridges necessary to carry out future operations to fight drug trafficking”

    Alberto Morales, the chief inspector with the National Police and key expert with SEACOP, the port cooperation project, tells us about the progress made in the four phases of the European cooperation project, which is about to end.

    Between 2003 and 2008, a notable increase in drug trafficking (cocaine) by sea was observed in Europe. The state security forces and bodies (SSFB) joined together to create what was later called by the police a “retaining wall“, which led to the usual transport routes being diverted to Africa as an alternative route.

    The SEACOP project was born out of this context. The project required on-site visits to the producing, transit and recipient countries for the drug, requiring adaptation and consensus regarding the needs of all these countries in a project that contributed to this fight.

    This gave birth to the SEACOP project, a project based on four main pillars: intelligence teams (MIU); port control teams (JMCU); databases and cooperation at the regional and transregional levels.

    It is in Africa where the first efforts were initially focused after 2008 and where remarkable advances were seen. For the first time we were able, as specialists, to combine the efforts of the agencies operating in the three countries in which SEACOP was active: Senegal, Ghana and Cape Verde.

    Language has always been a slight problem for them hindering fluent communication and even exchanges relating to experiences or working methods, but, little by little, through the different face-to-face encounters between them, they have managed to establish several communication channels between the teams.

    The police specialists who participated in the project confirmed that there was a clear need to standardise the training given to the agents or officers taking part in the project, although many of them had had little contact with computers or the other means used to gather intelligence and carry out searches on vessels.

    The activities undertaken in these three countries allowed the European Union to consider extending the project in a phase II, with appropriate objectives, to various African countries including: Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast, among others, which was a real challenge for all the project members.

    Later phases confirmed the need to involve not only the countries that were the destination for some of the drugs produced in Latin America, but also to continue expanding in successive phases III and IV to other regions such as the Caribbean and the drug-producing and transit countries in Latin America.

    The Caribbean area is especially sensitive to cocaine trafficking in pleasure boats, which is why SEACOP has established alliances with other projects already operating in the area, in order to enhance the strengths and reinforce the weaknesses, such as connections between the islands, training on boat profiling, elements that raise the suspicions of officers when they visit the marinas, teamwork and obviously to provide them with the necessary material to be able to carry out searches on boats without damaging them too much.

    This same training, adapted to the needs of each country, was offered by specialists to the different officers participating in the project. Our experience, after more than twenty years fighting drug trafficking, has been put at their service and it is very gratifying to see how, little by little, they acquired the level required to grow the SEACOP family.

    The producing countries are highly important to the project, countries like Colombia, with the experience acquired in its daily fight against drug trafficking, or Argentina, where the problems experiences along its river system are added to the problems at its ports. This was a challenge that has, obviously, been reflected in the work on both regional and transregional training, in which the countries each played their part regarding the way in which they carry out the work, both at their borders and at the international level.

    However, the greatest problem we have encountered has undoubtedly been the turnover of officers in their posts, the need for a commitment to permanence has been one of the weaknesses that will definately be taken into account in future projects.

    We are left with the impression of a job well done, with the pleasure of knowing that the necessary bridges have been created to carry out future operations to combat drug trafficking and, above all, of creating a network of contacts that is one of the greatest values contributed by this project.

    We leave behind many hours of work, many cases analysed, and hours of training that have always given us a sense of satisfaction knowing they have strengthened the implementation of the tasks that are currently being carried out and that will, at least, continue in the coming years to be a reference in the fight against maritime cocaine trafficking.

    Alberto Morales, chief inspector with the National Police and key expert on the SEACOP project

  • 17 December 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The value of numbers in moving towards inclusive justice

    María Luisa Domínguez, Senior Technician in the Democratic Governance Area, head of Inclusive Justice, EUROsociAL+ Programme explains the work developed by the programme in this matter.

    When we were faced with the challenge of telling our story from a perspective which is different from what is traditional (one which is more focused on activities and results), what EUROsociAL does along the lines of Inclusive Justice, we decided to emphasise some numbers. These numbers not only indicate quantities, but also qualities. Here are some of them.

    15. Trajectory

    The number 15 represents the years that the European Union programme EUROsociAL has been supporting social cohesion in Latin America. From its inception in 2005 to 2020, EUROsociAL has been accompanying public institutions in Latin America in the design and implementation of a multiplicity of public policies in all areas: social, economic, justice, gender, regional development, good governance, etc. And at all levels: regional, national and local.

    During these 15 years we have seen 3 phases of the programme, in very different contexts: crisis and economic boom, social conflicts and democratic stability and, more recently, pandemic and humanitarian, economic and social crisis. Also with different focuses: pilot projects in the first phase; orientated to requests from and specific results of public policy in the following two.

    But in these three decades, the DNA and the spirit of the programme has remained the same: to fight against inequalities and improve social cohesion in the region. In Inclusive Justice, the programme has been pioneering in reducing barriers to access to justice for people in vulnerable conditions, which in 2008 materialised in the Brasilia Rules, and that today we are supporting in its conversion to an international agreement.

     16, 10 and 5. Global Agenda

    Promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies is what the 2030 Agenda proposes in its SDG 16, and more specifically in goal 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and guarantee equal access to justice for all.

    At EUROsociAL we understand access to justice to be a key right that allows the exercise and guarantee of other basic rights such as health, education, housing, identity, etc. For this reason, we have placed emphasis on the protection and dissemination of the rights of groups that are in a vulnerable condition: people in the context of mobility, migrants and refugees, children and adolescents; victims and witnesses of crimes; youth in conflict with criminal law; persons deprived of libertypeople belonging to ethnic minorities; and women who find themselves in situations of gender discrimination. And this SDG 16 is an enabler for the achievement of other SDGs: 10, referring to the reduction of inequalities, and 5, which seeks gender equality.

    It is impossible in this brief space to make a detailed list of the numerous actions currently being carried out in the region with the institutions of the justice system: Judiciaries, Ministries of Justice, Prosecutors, Public Defenders and Prison Systems.

    Our fundamental reference here are the aforementioned 100 Rules of Brasilia and the Guides of Santiago for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses, reference documents whose preparation has been promoted by EUROsociAL within the framework of regional justice networks.

     17. Partnerships

    For the proper development of our work we apply SDG 17, and in particular with goal 17.16 aimed at “improving the global partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by alliances between multiple stakeholders that mobilise and exchange knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, in order to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, particularly developing countries”.

    The association with regional networks, and in particular with the justice networks of Latin America, has been one of the hallmarks of EUROsociAL since its inception in 2005. Promoting alliances and networks for the exchange of experiences and good practices between counterpart institutions in the Latin American and European regions has been one of the central pillars of EUROsociAL and in this we have been pioneers. This has enabled us to move forward in building common responses in several countries to shared problems, such as strategic reference frameworks for public policies at the regional level; joint declarations or guidelines, common model standards or protocols, etc.

    We accompanied the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, through the Brasilia Rules Follow-up Commission, in the definition of the first version of the Rules in 2008, in their update in 2018, in the implementation of the Rules in the countries, transferring them to national programmes, policies and plans for access to justice, and currently in the Roadmap to convert the Rules into an International Convention.

    Also since 2007, we have collaborated with the Ibero-American Association of Public Attorney Offices-AIAMP, strengthening it and supporting the formation of its different Networks (Network of Prosecutors against corruption and Specialised Gender Network) and Working Groups. In 2008, the Santiago Guide for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses was prepared and approved with the support of the programme, and in this third phase we collaborated with the Group of Victims and Witnesses in the review and update of these Guidelines, which will be approved in early November at the AIAMP General Assembly.

    In 2012, in Fortaleza Brazil, the kick-off was given to EUROsociAL’s collaboration with the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders-AIDEF. These eight years of collaboration have been intense and very fruitful, which has allowed progress in the design of regional models that have subsequently been implemented at the national level. From the Regional Guide for public advocacy and comprehensive protection of persons deprived of liberty; the manual for monitoring Human Rights in detention centres by the Public Defenders; and the regional manual on the Bangkok Rules in terms of Public Advocacy, in the second phase of the programme.

    In this third phase, the AIDEF is being accompanied in two very strategic actions that attempt to respond to two very present challenges currently in the region: on the one hand, the cases of institutional violence that occur in prisons in Latin America; and on the other, the situation of exclusion and vulnerability of people in a context of mobility and who require special attention to improve the advocacy and enforcement of their rights.

    In the first case, a regional Model for the System of Registration, Communication and Comprehensive Attention to Victims of Institutional Prison Violence – SIRCAIVI has been designed, which is currently being implemented in 3 countries: Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica, and in the second, progress is being made in the design of a regional model and the creation of a regional network of legal assistance to people in the context of mobility from Public Defender Offices.

    Through work with these networks, EUROsociAL has contributed to the strengthening of the rule of law, promoting the protection and defence of human rights, an indivisible and intrinsic relationship, fundamental not only for social cohesion, but also for democracy.

    19. Resilience and reconstruction

    And then COVID19 arrived. Finally, in the current context, we could not forget the COVID19 pandemic that has come to disrupt and condition everyone’s lives, but which is particularly and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups, as shown by various international organisations such as the OHCHR, the IACHR or ECLAC to name some of them.

    Human rights and their protection and guarantee are crucial in times of crisis. In this context, EUROsociAL has quickly made itself available to countries to redirect their actions and respond to the effects of this global pandemic and to lay solid foundations for recovery and reconstruction, leaving no one behind and not allowing the violation of any rights.

    This involves putting people at the centre of public policies, especially the most vulnerable, and preparing justice systems to overcome current difficulties, guaranteeing the functioning of an independent and fair justice system. The application of the Brasilia Rules as a mandatory norm can be a powerful weapon to fight against the coronavirus and from EUROsociAL+ we will do everything possible to make it so.

    Related audiovisual content: “Justice for social cohesion”.

     

     

  • 05 November 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Access to public information in Latin America and the Caribbean

    The recently approved Inter-American Model Law 2.0 of the Organization of American States marks a before and after in the management of an essential right for the strength of democracies. FIIAPP has contributed, through the European EUROsociAL+ programme, to the development of the legal text by providing technical support and promoting the incorporation of the gender perspective.

    Borja Díaz, Técnico Sénior en Gobernanza Democrática del Programa EUROsociAL + en la FIIAPP 

    On 22 October, the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the Model Inter-American Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information at its Annual Assembly. This policy framework, promoted by the OAS Department of International Law (DDI in its Spanish initials), has enjoyed broad participation in its drafting process and is of enormous relevance to Latin America and the Caribbean, since it incorporates cutting-edge standards and best practices for promoting transparency and the right of access to information.

    The Law establishes the broadest possible application of the right of access to information in possession, custody or control of any public authority, political party, union and non-profit organisation, which has to respond to requests for information on funds or public benefits received.

    As the DDI emphasises, the ultimate objective of the regulations is that “access to public information is consolidated as a tool that allows increasing levels of transparency and to fight effectively against corruption, promoting open competition, investment and economic growth, to generate the confidence of the population in its democratic institutions and empower citizens, including those sectors that are in a situation of vulnerability”.

    “This Model Law is intended to provide citizens with greater access to information which is in the hands of the authorities. Why? So that they have a better understanding of how the administration is managed and how the public resources that derive from its taxes are used. We also want it to influence management models that impact ordinary citizens because the right of access to information ranges from right up high to local governments”, underlines Dante Negro, Director of the DDI at the OAS.

    The European Union-financed EUROsociAL+ corporation programme, through its Democratic Governance area, which is coordinated by FIIAPP, has made a decisive contribution to the development of this regulatory proposal, through significant technical support channelled through the Network of Transparency and Access to Public Information (RTA) in spaces for debate and the exchange of experiences between guarantor bodies and promoters of the right to information, and through the systematisation of good practices provided by different experts.

    The regulation focuses on key factors such as the nature and functions of the guarantor bodies which guarantee this right, the regime of exceptions, the entities bound by the regulation, active transparency and the definitions and scope of the right of access to information. Likewise, it includes as an annex the Inter-American Model Law on Document Management and its implementation guide, prepared by specialists from the Sub-Directorate of State Archives of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Spain on the basis of the RTA Document Management Model moved forward by EUROsociAL+.

    Throughout the work processes EUROsociAL+ also ensured the incorporation of the gender perspective, the norm being one of the first legal instruments of the Inter-American System to incorporate said vision from its conception. ​

    As Gabriel del Piazzo, President of the Executive Council of the Unit for Access to Public Information of Uruguay (UAIP) (Presidency of the RTA), points out, “the Model Law 2.0 has the added value of gathering the experience of the guarantor bodies of Latin America, whose responsibility it has been to implement the access to information laws over the last 10 years”.

    The Model Law thus becomes a reference to be followed by States in order to improve regulations, guidelines and internal procedures for transparency and access to information. From the moment that the 35 States of the Americas endorsed it, they acknowledged that it is necessary to reach that standard. For citizens and organised civil society, it implies being aware of the standards that their State could potentially reach and thus being able to demand processes for the elaboration of norms or policies aimed at reaching that standard.

    This EUROsociAL+ action is aligned with the 2030 Agenda, especially with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6.10 (to guarantee access to information), 16.5 (to considerably reduce corruption and bribery), 16.6 (to create effective and transparent institutions at all levels of accountability), and SDG 17 (to promote alliances to achieve these objectives).

    Borja Díaz Rivillas, Senior Expert in Democratic Governance for the EUROsociAL+ Programme at FIIAPP 

  • 08 September 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Washing your hands, a lesson as simple as it is impossible

    On World Development Worker Day, a FIIAPP technician tells us about the challenge faced by millions of people in accessing drinking water

    On World Development Worker Day, David Rodríguez Soane shares his thoughts with us on the importance of development workers continuing with their work. A vital and necessary task, especially during the pandemic. In a difficult context like this, David focuses on the need to guarantee access to safe water and hygiene, as universal rights and a key action against the spread of the virus.

    Washing your hands with soap and water is a simple gesture that today more than ever, in the middle of the Covid era, helps save lives. With the first days of September already passing by, governments and educational centres are debating about reopening their facilities and the most appropriate teaching models to adapt during this pandemic. However, in 43% of schools around the world it is not possible to wash your hands, a key defence mechanism in the fight to reduce the transmission of the virus. In fact, in less developed countries, 7 out of 10 schools lack basic facilities.

    In mid-August, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF published a joint report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WASH), in which it was revealed that around 818 million children in the world lack basic facilities to wash their hands in their schools, which puts them at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and other communicable diseases. More than a third (295 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Once again, water proves essential for life. But so are sanitation and hygiene. A simple example is enough: without toilets, natural water sources are polluted; without clean water, basic hygiene practices are not possible. Among them, washing your hands.

    The cooperation perspective

    The world of cooperation has an important role to play in ensuring that the right to drinking water and sanitation is just that, a right for everyone. Indeed, this summer, the international community discussed water at great length. In the last week of August, for example, numerous actors, from governments to civil society organisations, gathered at two important events.

    On the one hand, from 24 to 28 August, Water World Week – WWWeek took place virtually. The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) promotes this multilateral Agora every year which, for almost 30 years, has become the most influential event in the world for tackling the greatest challenges relating to water. On the other hand and also in the same week, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) organised five days of conferences dedicated exclusively to water from the perspective of development. This year, the Week on Water for Development (WW4D) started with a motto which is clearly part of today’s world: “Every drop counts, water in exceptional times.”

    Also this summer, in July, and with a strong presence from Spanish Cooperation through the Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation (FCAS), the XXI Conference of Ibero-American Water Directors (CODIA) took place, which is the main platform for political dialogue, technical collaboration and cooperation on water in Ibero-America. Within this framework, the two technical dialogues that dominated the debate were the relationship between water and biodiversity and the integration of sanitation and treatment in the framework of integrated water resources management.

    As we can see, there are plenty of spaces for the exchange of experiences and for multi-stakeholder coordination in order to achieve SDG 6, clean water and sanitation for all. The achievements of the past should serve as a spur to strengthen the firm steps being taken by multilateralism to reach 2030 in the best possible position. Global mobilisation after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lead to the fact that in 2015, 2.1 billion people had access to improved sanitation and that 147 countries reached the goal for accessing sources of drinking water (MDG Report 2015, UNDP). Now, the SDGs, after being with us for five years, open a new window of opportunity to follow the same path of progress and consolidation of rights. However, the figures in the SDG Report 2020 on SDG6 are not as good as one would expect and the emergence of Covid-19 has only made the situation worse. This is why we require solutions, we need answers.

    In this context, Spanish Cooperation, has the tools to contribute to global objectives and these must be emphasised. From data for 2018, it has been estimated that the FCAS has benefited more than 2.8 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, 2.2 million Latin Americans have had access to new or rehabilitated drinking water services and 1.1 million to sanitation services. Also the AECID and FIIAPP, through its participation in the EUROCLIMA+ project, which is the EU’s flagship programme on environmental sustainability and climate change with Latin America, devote enormous efforts to managing water in order to ensure the availability of water resources and strengthen institutional capacities and governance of the sector in beneficiary countries. In turn, numerous NGDOs, such as Manos Unidas, Oxfam Intermón and Acción Contra el Hambre, to name just a few, also carry out important specialised intervention actions regarding the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in the countries in which they operate. They are examples of actors in our development work, but there are more, also among the autonomous communities, universities and other agents that are part of the system.

    Thoughts from the pandemic

    We have been looking at the issue from the perspective of cooperation, but the pandemic that has taken up and conditioned our lives for months provides us with some thoughts: the interconnection of essential elements such as dignity, people, prosperity, the planet, justice and partnerships. We are already familiar with the image being reflected back at us, but it also invites us to reflect once again. Global health, quality education and access to water and sanitation. SDGs 3, 4 and 6. All of these are interconnected rights, objectives and challenges that intersect throughout the world in a familiar scene in early September: the beginning of the school year. The equation is more complex in times of pandemic. And practically impossible to solve, for those girls and boys living in countries where washing their hands with soap and water is still a luxury within the reach of only a handful of people.

    On 8 September each year we celebrate Development Worker Day. It is a day to honour all the people who contribute their work, their knowledge and their sweat to build a world which is more just. But it will also be a day to remember that, according to the Hand Hygiene For All initiative, three billion people, 40% of the world’s population, cannot wash their hands with soap and water at home. Three-quarters of them live in the poorest countries in the world. Simply because they lack basic facilities to wash their hands, millions of people are at immediate risk of contracting Covid-19 or other diseases.

    The challenge is enormous, but we must make a start at sometime and in some place. So let’s start this September and let’s start with schools. Let’s learn a lesson as a society: simple gestures should not be impossible.

    Author: David R. Seoane, Communication and Knowledge Management Technician for the Spanish Cooperation programme “Transparency, Communication and Knowledge Management”