Below please find my message to the ANEW Learning Forum as it kicked off in Dar es Salaam last week (shortened slightly). I was honored to speak on behalf of Freshwater Action Network and grateful to my colleagues from ANEW for inviting me. More on the ANEW Learning Forum in the next several blog posts!
…As you know, ANEW is a network of networks. At the international level Freshwater Action Network works to not only support the capacity development of individual networks like ANEW but to facilitate learning, sharing and strategic advocacy across all of the networks. Thus, one of the key aims of the FAN secretariat is to be a link between the local and the global ensuring that the relevant learnings, strategies and viewpoints are heard at the international level particularly as and before important policy and funding decisions are taken.
That is why I am here this week. To learn from all of you. The learning that we will share in the next few days, the tough questions that we will ask, and the analysis of each other’s work and the broad concepts we have come to discuss is critical for my work, critical for the work all of us are doing.
Recently, for example, as some of you will know from following the FAN blog, I had the opportunity to go to Geneva to lobby Human Rights Council members on a resolution on the rights to water and sanitation. This was a resolution following the UN General Assemblies historic recognition of these rights. It is in these international forums where it is particularly important that I am able to understand and articulate the work that all of you are doing and the ways in which policy needs to reflect and support and be a tool for that work.
Documenting and sharing our work as we have done to be part of this Forum and as we will do this week is so important. By documenting and sharing our learning and by continuing to learn from the work of others we do each other and the people we work with in our communities, countries and regions a great service. By sharing our work, and in particular not just the successes, but also the challenges, the hardships, the reversals and the setbacks we strengthen our own ability to solve complex problems and to be more effective and at the same time we provide our colleagues with important tools, insight and of course – solidarity. I hope that you believe as I do that it is important to have these links, to work in networks not only at a continental level but also at the international level. And as well, I hope that you will share your work in its entirety this week. Not just the successes but also the unintended consequences and the hardships that you are working to overcome.
As some of you may know, the FAN Secretariat also works to develop tools for the sector and we are just about to complete two tools – one is an activist handbook for using the rights to water and sanitation and the other is a handbook for working with and influencing World Bank staff in the sector. I am grateful for the input of some of you already given as we developed these tools and I hope that as we roll out these two handbooks, which as members of FAN all of you will all receive with your next newsletter, you will be able to use them in your work and give us feedback so that we can continue to adapt and improve them.
I have the pleasure of already knowing many of you and being familiar with your work. This week I will continue to learn from you, to meet more of you. I look forward to sharing my challenges and triumphs with all of you and hearing about the innovative work that you are doing.
I would finally to reflect on the fact that over the last few years with the trainings, learning, information that ANEW and national level networks like TEWASNET have been providing and coordinating we have all gotten quite used to doing things this way, to having ANEW as a support and a resource for our country networks or our organizational work. It’s useful to reflect though that meeting like this is an innovation in the sector that we should celebrate – an innovation that depends on all of us to be willing to collaborate and work together. Being part of ANEW and being here this week working hard will strengthen all of our work and ultimately increase access in the WASH sector – and that is after all why we are all here. I look forward to working with all of you and celebrating our work together this week!