Blog / 16 januari 2012

'Letter on Water' Good news for extremely poor?

'Letter on Water' Good news for extremely poor?


Compared to the Letter on Food Security, which was sent to the Dutch Parliament earlier, this letter has many positive aspects. The letter on water acknowledges the importance of good governance and the perseverance needed to change management processes. In this letter, the State Secretary clearly notes that social organizations play a key role in water supply and water management.


On one strategic point, the letter is simply weak. A clear vision on poverty reduction is absent, or at least very implicit. To ensure that the millions of euro's that were made available for water in the "new style development" strategically benefit the poorest at least three basic conditions must be set.


The Right to Water and Sanitation, of which the Netherlands is and has been one of the key advocates, should serve as a guideline in this policy. A clever use of this human right gives local actors an instrument to defend their basic rights. This will also stimulate investors in water-related infrastructure to take these rights into account.


A second concern is the role of women: the vast majority of poor people which the government's policies are aimed at, consists of women, but they hardly play a role in them. This can and should change, by including an explicit 'gender goal' in the list of outputs of the letter.


In order to adjust policies in time, accurate information is of great importance. More than half of the ODA funds are made available through international organizations like the World Bank or through the bilateral channel. It is in the interest of the State Secretary to know the effects of all those efforts in an early stage. This information should come especially from local organizations. For Mr. Knapen it will be beneficial to listen to these actors, so that the deployment of the Dutch water resources can be made really effective.

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