WASH Futures 2016 Conference a success!
The fourth WASH Conference, WASH Futures 2016 Conference was held in Brisbane 16 – 20 May 2016 and was attended by over 400 people from 47 countries over a 5-day program. The format of the first two days included conference-style presentations, with plenty of time for discussion of key ideas. This was followed by three days of participatory training and workshops. Four plenary keynote presentations, a plenary debate, more than 80 conference presentations, 65 posters, and 18 training/workshop events were complemented by a social program, trade exhibition, and spaces for sharing information and resources. Overall, there was plenty of opportunity for making new WASH colleagues and discussing WASH issues.
Keynotes and themes
The conference comprised seven themes under the overall theme ‘sustainable pathways to universal WASH access’. Three of these themes focused on how to ensure sustainability and appropriate levels of WASH services (A: WASH management; B: Business of WASH, financing and the private sector; C ensuring that WASH reaches everyone). Theme D moved the focus towards WASH outside the household particularly in schools, medical facilities and public places. Theme E focused on integrating hygiene to ensure health outcomes and Theme F explored various issues relating to the integration of WASH and water security. Theme G provided the opportunity to focus on the current state of WASH in the Pacific region.
On the first morning Catarina de Albequerque, Executive Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership eloquently laid out the challenge of achieving equitable progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6). Don Blackmore, Chair of eWater and the International Water Management Institute, described how increasing pressure on water resources is adding another dimension to the challenge for SDG 6.
On the second morning Bruce Gordon, Coordinator, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health at the World Health Organization explained the practical challenges and innovations around monitoring for SDG6. The final keynote, Pak Nugroho Tri Utomo, Director of Housing and Settlements, National Development Planning Board of Indonesia (BAPPENAS) described the ambitious commitments made and the progress which has been achieved in Indonesia.
The Big Debate
The Big Debate brought together four sector specialists with unique insights into the specifics of this challenge- Duncan Mara, Ian Ross, Louise Whiting and Stuart Bunn. On the one hand Professor Duncan Mara and Ian Ross laid out the scale of the challenge associated with the SDG WASH targets, asking if they are essentially unachievable and if their monitoring will present unprecedented challenges; on the other hand, Dr Stuart Bunn and Louise Whiting argued that the stewardship of water resources called for by the SDGs offers a unique opportunity to change the dynamics and secure the future development of water as a whole.
Conference Facilitator, Professor Barbara Evans from the University of Leeds says that achieving sustained universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene is more than a matter of technology and professionals working in WASH in Australia have shown international leadership in the Indo-Pacific region.
“To have an impact, practitioners have to engage with the social, economic and political dimensions of WASH. The challenges are complex, and events such as this provide an essential space for sharing experience, developing new approaches and identifying what works best”, said Professor Evans.
Congratulations to the award winners of WASH 2016
Best poster: “Innovation in WASH and Gender Monitoring: Towards Strategic Gender Outcomes and Equitable Services” by Plan International and ISF UTS
Most popular poster: “Ensuring Sustainable WASH for Low Income Housing at New Bashpotti, Mirpur, Dhaka” by Sami Towaif Khan (Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology)
Student BIG IDEAS award: “Sanitation Services for Poo or People?” Tanja Rovenquist (ISF UTS)
CSO Innovation Award: Save the Children Bangladesh