April 09,2013

Atlanta Symposium for World Water Day, April 9

Celebrating progress towards better coordination and collaboration between the WASH and NTD sectors

 

Atlanta Symposium for World Water Day 2013
by Stephanie Ogden, WASH/NTD Coordinator

Cross-posted from the International Trachoma Initiative

On March 22, 2013 we raised glasses of clean water in celebration World Water Day, and to the importance of water access in human and environmental health and well-being. In addition to the official World Water Day events, Atlanta-based organizations from various fields will host a local symposium event on April 9 to commemorate World Water Day – and draw upon the tremendous expertise and leadership in water, sanitation, and health based in Atlanta. 

The International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and Children Without Worms (CWW) have partnered with CARE, Habitat for Humanity International, the Centers for Disease Control, and Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water to sponsor a symposium and panel discussion about the “transformational impact” of access to water and sanitation on health, education, gender equity, economies, and well-being around the world.

Water and sanitation is especially important in the prevention and control of trachoma and other Neglected Tropical Diseases, and this World Water Day is particularly significant to the International Trachoma Initiative. This year’s theme is ‘Water Cooperation,’ and the April celebration commemorates one year of collaborative efforts to increase coordination between the WASH and NTD sectors – efforts to help ensure sufficient water and sanitation access in areas of the world with highest prevalence of trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiaisis, and other devastating NTDs. 

The Atlanta symposium and preparations for our home-grown celebration of this year’s World Water Day give us a chance to look back at a year of tremendous progress. Together, the WASH and NTD sectors have made marked steps towards a common vision – towards ensuring that all communities are disease free and have adequate and equitable access to water and sanitation, and the tools to practice good hygiene. This year we’ve accomplished the following:

  • Created venues for dialogue, and more importantly increased information exchange, between the two sectors.  That information exchange has led to first steps at practical action and partnerships at the implementation level.
  • Increased and clarified the evidence base for WASH impact on NTD control. Emory, ITI, CWW, and their partners have conducted systematic reviews and meta-analyses that comb all relevant literature, extract and combine data, and consolidate findings. This evidence has helped to clearly articulate the impact of WASH interventions, and help programs to understand which WASH interventions have the greatest and most cost-effective impact on NTD control.
  • Inclusion of WASH indicators in global trachoma mapping efforts. Joint mapping efforts have increased attention to monitoring of long term health impacts of water and sanitation access, and the subsequent joint data sets may help us to determine more revealing impact indicators.
  • Increased advocacy, to donors, and to government stakeholders in endemic countries.  Joint advocacy will continue to help elevate both WASH and NTD issues, and increase investment to improving WASH access in high endemic areas.

Those of you close by, come celebrate World Water Day, Atlanta-style! Come stand in support of adequate and equitable water and sanitation access as the foundation of health, education, livelihoods, economies, and well-being. Come add your perspective. Remember that joint advocacy acts as “constructive interference” – that voices together resounding a single message amplify its effect. We hope to see you on April 9!

Register to attend “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Transforming Lives” at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wwd_atlanta. Space is limited. The event will also be streamed live online.

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