Polls and studies are confirming a worrying trend: public trust across business, media, NGOs, and government is in decline. We know mismanagement and corruption will break trust. We see integrity as a means to examine the root causes of distrust, reprioritize sector action, and develop an enabling environment to build it up again. This is on our minds this month as we reflect back on some of the latest news from the WASH and Water Resource Management sectors.
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Six Ways to Repair Declining Social Trust
First step: integrity. Second step: integrity? Almost… This thoughtful overview of paths to build trust insists change is possible, points to the pillars of integrity, and highlights the responsibility of all stakeholders to act urgently, noting:
‘None of these steps [to repair declining social trust] can occur unless government, business, civic, and other institutional leaders make a sincere effort to acknowledge the problem of social trust, and to take steps to improve their policies, practices, and rhetoric.‘
Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report
The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report, published in the very last days of January, should send shock waves in to the Australian water sector. With 111 findings and 44 recommendations, the sobering report straightforwardly points to negligence and maladministration in how the Basin Plan for the Murray-Darlin river basin was developed. It clearly states, for example, that:
‘Key aspects of the Basin Plan have not been enacted or implemented in accordance with the objects and purposes of the Water Act.‘
AfricaSan5: a call to urgent action for sanitation in Africa
It was relatively clear from the start of the AfricaSan5 conference that African countries are generally not on track to fulfill their Ngor commitments and achieve the SDGs. The conference also closed with an urgent call to the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union to declare an Africa-wide state of emergency on sanitation and hygiene. Still, AfricaSan5 seems to have renewed motivation and ambitions. It confirmed that progress, although slow, is happening in all countries involved. Momentum is building!
This first article from the West Africa WASH Journalist Network, provides some insight on how the country sharing session went. It discusses how countries acknowledge there is still much ‘institutional confusion’ in the sector and political will is lagging. However, the discussion was overall fruitful and well received. Individual countries have made specific commitments for the way forward. Benin, for example has plans for a new National Strategy on Basic Sanitation and Hygiene.
Also of interest from the West Africa WASH Journalist Network, an interview of the WSSC national coordinator for Benin on the work ahead to deliver on commitments.
Over at IRC WASH, John Butterworth discusses the challenges and developments addressed in the monitoring sessions. Among several developments, he notes some steps taken to gather more data on equity and sustainability, as well as WASH in schools.
Read full blog post here: AfricaSan is now five! And we are learning fast
The final statement and commitments from the conference should be published shortly by the African Water Association.