Proceedings of the 42nd WEDC International Conference

Equitable and Sustainable WASH Services

Future challenges in a rapidly changing world

Accountability for equitable rural water supply in the COVID-19 era

Countries at all income levels experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, implemented different measures such as lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus. Lockdown imposes practical limitations on the freedom of association and collective action, making it more difficult for rightsholders to demand accountability.

Challenges include decreased freedom of movement, funding cuts to programmes that support community participation, and poor access to mobile technology and the internet as organising becomes virtual. The gendered digital gap, lowered already limited women’s public participation and access to information. Moreover, increased governmental control over daily life and consolidation of power during the crisis in some cases further constrained civic space.

Knowing how duty bearers performed was also challenged by fast evolving standards and lack of or difficulty in accessing data. Some duty bearers deliberately or unwillingly under the pressure of urgency for quick response were non-transparent.

On the other hand, while normal channels of rights claiming were interrupted, the has been also new opportunities to claim the (water) rights.

This session will bring together stakeholders from national and international civil society, government and service providers, to share experiences. Key outcomes of a recent RWSN E-discussion and some experiences from the field will be used to kick off the discussion, followed by world café style discussions in breakout rooms that enable participants to focus on the issues that are most useful and relevant to them. A short report will summarise the meeting’s main outcomes.

The event is convened by RWSN, WaterAid, Simavi, Water Youth Network.

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