France and UN ECE continue to support the activities on equitable access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #5
Monday, 08 October 2012 17:00

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) hosted the first meeting of the expert group on monitoring progress in achieving equitable access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region under the Protocol on Water and Health. The meeting was held on 27–28 September in Paris and gathered more than 25 experts from the region. In the welcome words Mr. Sejiro Seam from the French MFA highlighted the problems on achieving the MDGs and universal access to water and sanitation, the Rio+20 outcomes, which shown that it will be easier to provide the access to basic water and sanitation, then to safe water and sanitation. The needs to use integrated water resource management approach and develop integrated approach to manage Water-Sanitation-Energy and Food. After 2015 more serious MDGs monitoring is needed and for such task the right-based indicators are more useful and have to be developed.

Access to safe water and sanitation in pan-European region is steel an issue which needs to take measures. France supports the UN ECE work on Equal access to WS under the Protocol on water and health.

In the introduction Mr. Charles Saout, French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that 110 Millions in European region have no access to safe water, the rich countries still have problem with equitable access. Among main inequities are geographic disparities (access to Water Resources, access to WS infrastructures), social disparities related to vulnaratable and marginalized groups and affordability to pay for WS services. The issue of equal access to WS is in focus of Protocol on water and health implementation. Some progress is made by Parties on Protocol implementation, particularly on targets setting. Still there is a need to raise awareness and involvement stakeholders on Protocol implementation, targets adaptation to the local level and preparation to the next reporting on Protocol implementation progress. The new expert group (EG) on equitable access will continue work started in 2011 by ad-hoc expert group produced the document “No one left behind- Good practices on Ensuring Equitable access to Water and Sanitation (WS) in the pan-European Region”. The task of the new EG is to develop a tool and to assess progress on ensuring the equitable access to WS as it was the recommendation of the Ad-hoc EG. The objective of this Expert Group is to develop and to test a tool (“scorecard”) that could be used by governments and other stakeholders to establish a baseline, track progress and promote discussion on further actions to be taken. The intention is to develop a credible and practical assessment methodology, and to encourage the development of national assessments. France continues to chair the EG activity.

At the meeting the Scorecard Project was presented, including introduction of the work on monitoring progress in achieving equitable access with focus on approach and methodology. The EG members get familiar with the Relevant Initiatives, such as activities of the Joint Monitoring Programme on the development of indicators for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals on equity and non-discrimination and on wealth quintile analyses (Didier Allély, WHO), activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Madoka Saji, OHCHR) and presentation of Integration of a Human Rights-Based Approach to Water and Sanitation Governance: methodology developed by WaterLex (Hélène Boussard, WaterLex).

The main discussion of the meeting was related to the Project’s Final Product — the Draft scorecard on ensuring equitable access to water and sanitation. The Draft was presented by Roberto Martin Hurtado, expert and 2 days discussion of the Draft was facilitated by Charles Saout, Delphine Caamano (French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) and Francesca Bernardini (UN ECE, Protocol on water and health Secretariat).

The EG discussed and agreed on the general structure of the scorecard, as well as on individual scores areas indicators (name, rational, the scoring options and the possible means of verification) to 4 main sections: governance and geographical differences, vulnerable and marginalised groups, and affordability.

It was agreed the scorecard will have the chapter on country profile as well as processing and outcome indicators to each of the areas to have a balance between assessments of governance frameworks/baseline situation and actions to deliver equitable access and reduce of the disparities.

France, Portugal and Ukraine confirmed their interest to participate in piloting the Scorecard and presented their proposals on the methodology, the scale of the pilot testing exercises, the country teams, the timelines and respective expected outputs. Members of the Expert Group also made suggestions about the preparation of the situational analysis and the idea on the national stakeholder workshop preparation.

The Expert Group confirmed arrangements for future work including: related deadlines for drafting the scorecard tool, piloting timetable, the date of the next expert group meeting and agreement on the sharing of tasks and responsibilities. The first written comments to the Scorecard Draft by EG participants have to be sent to the Secretariat on 18 October 2012 and the Scorecard has to be ready by the end of October. From October 2012 till end of February 2013 the pilot exercise will be implemented by 3 countries. The French government will provide support to the pilot in Ukraine.

The second meeting of EG will be in April 2013. The results of the pilots will contribute to the country reports on the Protocol implementation as well as the report on Scorecard will be presented to the next Meeting of the Parties in 2013.