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SWA at the MGISC

07 Oct 2018

The Government of India organized the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (MGISC) which took place from 29 September to 2 October. At the MGISC, SWA and the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC) co-organised a round-table discussion of sanitation business leaders, “Beyond CSR: Transformation to the Sanitation Economy” and following the MGISC, the SWA Chair, The Hon. Kevin Rudd, convened a consultation of the sector Ministers of SWA partner countries attending the Conference.

SWA High-level Chair at the opening plenary

The SWA Chair, delivered a talk during the opening plenary on ‘political leadership and sanitation’ 3 where he called on India to join SWA. Other plenaries focused Swachh Bharat, behavior change and sanitation financing. Download Mr. Rudd's speech.

"We are a global family. If I read the list of governments partners of SWA to the Mahatma, if he was alive today, he would see this as his mission today, reflected in the fact that our Sanitation and Water for All Global Partnership embraces the sanitation and finance ministers of all these countries around the world."

Five parallel Ministerial dialogues, moderated by international experts (including one by Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of the SWA) saw Ministers speak of their country experiences in building political will for sanitation, finding adequate financing, and making arrangements for reaching and working at scale. The Convention culminated on the 2nd of October, with a High-Level panel that included the Prime Minister of India, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and several Indian ministers.

The SWA-TBC Roundtable for Business Leaders

The SWA-TBC round-table 4 attracted over 40 participants, representing international development partners (USAID and the World Bank), multinationals (Unilever and others), corporate CSRs (Tata Trusts), entrepreneurs and social enterprises, and representatives of the TBC and the SWA. The discussions that were co-chaired by the SWA High-level Chair and the Chair of the TBC, were meant to find a common ground on which to build the ‘water and sanitation economy’, in manners that are beneficial to all stakeholders. Besides facilitating, implementing, documenting and disseminating good business practices in the ‘water and sanitation economy’, the discussions highlighted the need to inform and convince political decision-makers (notably, ministers) on alternate modes of financing for the sector.

The SWA Ministerial Consultation

The SWA Ministerial Consultation took place on 2 October 2018, immediately after the closure of the MGISC. It attracted over 40 participants, including representatives (including ministers and vice-ministers) from 17 SWA Partner countries. WaterAid UK’s Chief Executive also attended the meeting. The Consultation served two objectives. Firstly, it facilitated a discussion on the MGISC – what learnings Ministers would take away from their experience in India. Secondly, it helped identify and priorities unresolved issues – the issues, among those considered in the MGISC, which are relevant to their countries, what areas they would like more expertise and attention on. This provides some areas in which the SWA can focus on as part of its mandate – initiating and sustaining dialogue and exchange among the different stakeholders in the sector, and mobilizing will and resources at the highest political levels. The SWA is working on collecting successful experiences on these key areas of activity, to serve for high-level advocacy, while also being a useful at an operational level to guide activities in countries.

The 17 Ministerial Takeaways from the India events are:

  • Eliminating open defecation and achieving universal sanitation is possible
  • Reaching the furthest behind first is the way to reach universal access
  • Setting ambitious targets and challenging timeframes and linking achievement of goal to meaningful date is crucial
  • Being audacious is key - better to try to achieve a difficult goal in a short time frame than taking a slow approach that does not build momentum or capture attention
  • Showing visible political will – Head of State or Government to publicly endorse and participate
  • Taking an all-of-government approach and getting every ministry of government involved
  • Engaging all stakeholders in a very visible way: private sector, civil society, celebrities
  • Using the media strategically and make extensive use of all forms of communication channels
  • Create momentum so public interest in sanitation evolves into a “people’s movement"
  • Evoking the leadership of visionaries – historical figures, religious leaders
  • Engaging women in empowering ways, as decision-makers, agents of change; stressing benefits of sanitation for them
  • Engaging children and youth and stressing their need for a clean environment
  • Committing generous public funds and using them carefully.
  • Monitoring constantly and making results public – use them to spur greater progress
  • Seeking to find a “tipping point” at which social norms change in favour of sanitation
  • Identifying successful technologies and support them
  • Creating a ministry, directorate or other body solely responsible for sanitation and have it be accountable to head of state.