Originally written by Ned Breslin for Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Our international water and sanitation efforts are at a critical junction. The question is, are we ready to change? Can we stand up and chart a new course towards truly transformative investments? Or will we continue to hide behind incomplete data nobody in the sector, or more importantly in communities, around the world believes?
We will know soon enough. In fact, the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda is in London discussing critical human development issues as I write. And in 2014, or early 2015, the water and sanitation sector will publish its monitoring framework for a post-Millennium Development Goal (MDG) world. Teams of consultants, staff from multilateral agencies, a collection of government officials, and non-governmental agency representatives are debating what these indicators could be and what goals the sector should set for a post-2015 world. The deliberations are earnest and thoughtful.
The first real public display of the ideas percolating in these groups came at the Stockholm Water Week in late August. The water working group has clearly and thankfully moved away from the focus on access that has led many to claim that the “water MDG” has been met. Despite the overwhelming evidence that access does not actually mean water flowing regularly—the point of investments in water systems—the criticisms of the “MDG in water success” are loud, clear, and accurate. One needs only to look at the recent EU audit of its “Water Facility” to see how profound the failure to support sustainable water supply and sanitation has been.