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Seventh Meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health

08.12.2014 |

Two representatives of WECF took part in the meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health (a subsidiary body under the Protocol on Water and Health (PWH) responsible for the implementation of the work programme) on 26 and 27 November 2014 at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

Main issues of discussion were the target setting process and its progress in different state parties, the prevention and reduction of water-related diseases, small-scale water supplies and sanitation (SSWSS) and their safe management, equitable access to water and sanitation, the compliance procedure, the implementation of the programme of work 2014-2016 and financial arrangements to support the implementation of the PWH (see agenda and relevant documents here).

WECF, together with Germany and Serbia are leading the programme area small-scale water supplies and sanitation for 2014-2016 for the PWH. One of the activities, which started already during the working programme 2011-2013 was to develop a policy guidance document "Small-scale water supply and sanitation systems in the WHO European Region: Good practices for policy makers". WECF in cooperation with Germany and a team of experts now developed a draft of the policy guidance document (available under item 6 in English and Russian) and presented it at the meeting. Comments are welcome until 9 January 2015.

Furthermore, within the programme area small-scale water supplies and sanitation a survey was conducted on the status of small-scale water supplies in the WHO European region. Margriet Samwel of WECF drafted the report of the analysis of the survey results (also available under item 6, see above), and presented a summary of the main findings of the survey. Comments are welcome until 10 December 2014.

WECF is involved within the PWH target implementation in Moldova consulting for UNECE (financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation) on the development of norms and standards for SSWSS. Key aims of the project component led by Claudia Wendland (WECF) are to identify barriers within the existing norms and standards and to provide for an enabling regulatory framework towards safe and affordable solutions for SSWSS. A national expert group has been established which is having a second meeting in December 2014 in Moldova.

Since the last Meeting of the Parties (MOP) in 2013 the issue of “public participation” is dealt with under “target setting”. The Guide on Public Participation under the Protocol on Water and Health (ECE/MP.WH/9 – available here under item 4) developed jointly by WECF, Romania and an expert group under the auspices of the UNECE secretariat is further promoted. However, financial means are lacking to promote the guide beyond the secretariat’s and Romania’s activities.

A success story is the interest of state parties to apply the score card on equitable access (“The Equitable Access Score-card: Supporting policy processes to achieve the human right to water and sanitation (ECE/MP.WH/8)” (available under item 8)). The score card is a tool developed within an expert group (WECF was a member of) led by France under the auspices of the UNECE secretariat to assess the equity of access to water and sanitation.

The Compliance Committee of the PWH had met a day before the Working Group (on 25 November) where WECF participated as observer. At the meeting of the Working Group the Chair, Veit Koester, reported the outcomes and announced that 3 countries are now invited to participate in the consultation process. Albania and Azerbaijan as well as Croatia are invited to be part of a consultation and Bosnia-Herzegovina was asked to join as observer. The consultation process is aimed at assisting parties in setting and implementing their targets and not meant as a non-compliance process. Azerbaijan’s and Albania’s reaction towards the invitation was positive and WECF is hoping that this will start the work of the Compliance Committee, which is a valuable body of the Protocol with a lot of expertise available for the Protocol’s implementation. Furthermore, one communication was initiated against a Party that had not yet reported at all.

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