By Abdoulaye Sène, Executive Secretary of the 9th World Water Forum
Global Handwashing Day celebrated on Thursday 15 October 2020, will raise awareness of the importance of regular handwashing. This year's edition will have a special resonance due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the positive impact of hand hygiene in the fight against the spread of the virus.
Handwashing with soap is, in fact, one of the main barrier gestures to overcome the Covid-19. Unfortunately, this simple and effective gesture is not within everyone's reach.
Access to water is essential for the realization of UN resolution on water as a human right and the improvement of people's quality of life. Water plays a key role in the causation, transmission and prevention of many diseases, while remaining essential to the health and maintenance of ecosystems.
The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of having the right policies and implementation strategy for water, sanitation and hygiene, particularly in developing countries where inadequate water supply infrastructures are major hinderances to access basic services. If you add climate change into the equation, then we need to put in place prevention, adaptation and resilience strategies. This pandemic also reminds us of the long road to achieving universal access to water, one of the major targets of the SDGs, in 2030.
The preparatory process for the 9th World Water Forum is taking place in this particular context of health crisis. In this respect, the Forum will address the challenges of water security post COVID-19, lessons learned, particularly in the implementation of bold water and sanitation policies for the benefit of the populations.
The Forum, which will focus on water security, is structured around the following components:
- Firstly, an inclusive, decompartmentalized multi-stakeholder process with all stakeholders involved in the working groups structured around the 4 priorities: "Water Security and Sanitation", "Cooperation", "Water for rural development" and "Tools and Means".
- Secondly, a Summit of Heads of State, Government and major international institutions, to launch a historic political message and initiative, with a view to catalysing actions, in particular, for the rapid achievement of universal access to water and sanitation.
- Thirdly, the implementation of the Dakar 2021 Initiative which aims, during the preparatory phase, to select relevant, innovative and reproducible projects, producing short-term results with a sustainable impact around the priorities of the Forum.
In short, the Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the urgency of mobilising the international community, in all its diversity and at all levels, to make the World Forum of "Dakar 2021" a Forum of responses so that water is available everywhere and for everyone in order to fight against present pandemics and prevent those of the future.