Posted on 23/03/2016 by Juan-Victor Seminario (WaterAid America) and Elisa Dehove (Wateraid UK)
16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have reaffirmed their commitment to achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation, at the Fourth Latin American Sanitation Conference (Latinosan) on 9-11 March 2016. Although they did not table country-specific commitments in the Lima Declaration, more concrete actions are expected to result from the Regional Meeting of Water and Sanitation Ministers in March 2017.
In the declaration, governments committed to prioritise and confront water and sanitation gaps through:
- Investments in rural, marginal areas, to reach vulnerable and indigenous groups
- Institutional system policies
- Technological adjustment
- Improvement of prevailing management models
This year’s declaration risks having an air of déjà vu. At LatinoSan 2013 governments committed to regularly hold Regional Meetings of Water and Sanitation Ministers (REMISA, by its Spanish acronym) and to set up a dedicated Latin America and Caribbean Observatory for the Water and Sanitation sector. These structures did not materialise in the framework of the 2013 Panama Declaration.
But this time governments seem more committed, already taking concrete steps towards the goals, and a date for the first REMISA has been set for March 2017. Mexico was designated to hold the Pro Tempore Secretary with the help of volunteer countries (Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama), to start working on the design and implementation of the observatory. The observatory should facilitate the definition of more detailed regional objectives, and will take responsibility for monitoring of progress on Global Goal 6.
LatinoSan is more government-led than is any other sanitation regional process, which is a positive sign of political will and leadership. Hopefully, civil society organisations (who were not highly represented at the conference) will be invited to take part in this regional exercise.
WASHwatch and WaterAid will be watching the evolution of the 2016 Latinosan process closely. Stay tuned and don’t hesitate to share any information you might have!
Juan-Victor Seminario is Policy and Practice Officer (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Elisa Dehove is policy officer (Monitoring and Accountability) at WaterAid UK.