08 September 2020
Posteado en : Opinion
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”
11 October 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
The Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme, managed by the FIIAPP in Ghana, supports the fight against corruption in the African country
Earlier this year, the World Bank published its forecast for global economic growth for 2018, a forecast that featured Africa prominently. With an estimated growth of 8.3%,Ghana led a ranking in which sub-Saharan countries held the top positions. In addition to Ghana, Ethiopia (2nd), Ivory Coast (4th) and Djibouti (5th) were among the five countries with the highest growth forecasts. This aspect of the Ghanaian economy does not come as a surprise. With 34 years of uninterrupted growth (the last recession dates from 1983, when its economy shrunk by 4.5%), Ghana has one of the most diverse and dynamic economies in sub-Saharan Africa—the eighth largest in terms of GDP and the second largest in West Africa after Nigeria—and has a fairly balanced trade balance, which places it as a low-middle income country.
Inequality versus macroeconomics
However, these macroeconomic data cannot hide other indicators that are not so encouraging. Although the population living in extreme poverty has halved in the last 25 years, from 52% in 1992 to 24% today, Ghana is one of the 50 most unequal countries in the world and, as Oxfam points out in its latest reports, “inequality [in Ghana] is increasing, undermining the reduction of poverty, slowing economic growth and threatening social stability.” According to data from this NGO, in Ghana the 10% of the richest population consumes almost a third of the resources (32%), the same amount consumed by the poorest 60%. At the other end of the scale, the poorest 10% only has access to 2% of the resources.
This problem is compounded by two important gaps. In the first place, the gender gap, which causes women to have very restricted access to resources and wealth. As Oxfam points out, this group is “half as likely as men to own land”. In addition, “only 6% of the richest people in Ghana are women”. Second, there is a territorial gap. Ghana’s development pattern has accentuated the north/south and country/city divisions, with poverty fundamentally located in rural areas (almost four times more than in urban areas); and in the three northern provinces (the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions), which have development indicators similar to countries such as Mauritania, Madagascar or Benin, according to the 2015 Human Development Report.
Regiones de Ghana de menor a mayor IDH y país equivalente Región IDH País equivalente Northern 0,483 Benín Upper West 0,506 Madagascar Upper East 0,508 Mauritania Central 0,535 Angola Brong Ahafo 0,571 Santo Tome y Príncipe Eastern 0,575 Santo Tome y Príncipe Ghana (nacional) 0,578 – Volta 0,581 Zambia Ashanti 0,588 Laos Western 0,609 Bután Greater Accra 0,647 Marruecos Fuente: Subnational Human Development Index de Global Data Lab
Anti-corruption in the face of inequality
To enable government action in countries affected by inequality to reverse the situation, emphasis should be placed on three aspects, as indicated in the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index: social spending, tax policies and workers’ rights, and corruption is a phenomenon that negatively impacts these three aspects. Firstly, by detracting from public resources, corruption significantly affects social policies, which have less spending capacity. Secondly, since it is an opaque economic circuit, it is not taxed. In addition, on many occasions, large-scale corruption and tax evasion are interconnected phenomena that involve political and economic elites. Without forgetting that the social perception of corruption is a great disincentive for compliance with tax obligations by citizens, who think that their taxes will end up in the pockets of the rulers. Lastly, corruption encourages informal employment, where it is more difficult to adopt regulations that promote respect for workers’ rights and the establishment of decent minimum wages.
In short, as Transparency International pointed out in the presentation of the Corruption Perception Index 2016, “systemic corruption and social inequality reinforce each other, creating a vicious circle between corruption, unequal distribution of power in society and unequal distribution of wealth”. This is exactly what happens in Ghana. The perception of corruption in the country, measured by the aforementioned index, yields a medium-high score of 40 out of 100. This index indicates the degree of corruption in the public sector according to the perception of the business sector and country analysts, on a scale from 100 (perception of absence of corruption) and 0 (perception as very corrupt). But there is a more alarming fact, namely that Ghana´s result has been deteriorating in recent years, from 48/100 in 2014 to 40/100 in 2017. Quite probably, this worsening is largely due to the revelation in recent years of important corruption cases that affected the judicial system and the football federation.
Tax evasion, which, as we pointed out, is a matter closely linked to corruption, is also an important challenge for Ghana. In fact, for Ghana’s Business Development Minister, it is the biggest challenge the country faces. All of this means that the fight against corruption in Ghana is a powerful tool for inclusive development, which goes beyond mere macroeconomic growth and considers the most disadvantaged groups. And that is the goal of Ghana’s Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP), which is managed by the FIIAPP in Ghana with funding from the European Commission: to reduce corruption and improve accountability in this African country. This project begins at a time when the government of Ghana has been intensely involved in the fight against corruption, creating Ghana´s National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) within which the project is framed.
Ángel González, technical coordinator of the transparency and anti-corruption support project in Ghana