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Congress: 2008

Keyword(s): MDGs, access, safe water, basic sanitation, alliance, environment, Central America
AbstractA MULTISECTORIAL INITIATIVE THAT INTEGRATES ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO ADRESS LACK OF ACCESS TO SAFE WATER AND BASIC SANITATION IN THE CENTRAL AMERICAN REGION Through the United Nations Millennium Declaration the governments of the world undertook in 2000 a plan to address extreme poverty in its many dimensions. This plan translated into the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) includes, among others, the target to “to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and without sanitation by 2015”. However, more than 1.1 billion people in the world still lack access to safe water and more than 2.5 billion lack any form of basic sanitation in 2007. Nowadays, seven years after the adoption of the MDGs and in the mid-term of the deadline established to achieve them, progress has been achieved in some issues. Nevertheless, the progress is far from uniform, and it is well known that MDGs will not be reached unless there is a real commitment translated into concrete actions. In this context La Alianza por el Agua (Alliance for Water) has been created in Spain. Centred on MDGs, its main goal is to achieve that 5.000.000 Central American people gain access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015. To accomplish this goal, and for the first time in Spain, Alianza por el Agua has facilitated a link between public administrations, water companies, research centres and think-tanks, NGOs and citizens in a joint effort towards this crucial goal. Moreover, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign, the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Environment Programme and Expo Zaragoza 2008 (company responsible for organising, promoting, managing and running the International Exposition “Water and Sustainable development” that will be held in Zaragoza in 2008) are also part of the project. Apart from creating this multiparty movement, Alianza por el Agua has another important characteristic: a comprehensive approach to water issues. Accordingly, a very important part of its work is directed at creating a sense of solidarity between water users, linking water saving in daily use in the North with donations (also from these users) directed at financing cooperation projects to promote access to water and sanitation services in the Central American Region. This way, water is considered in a global approach that connects raising awareness about the need for sustainable practices (environmental perspective) and on the need of solidarity to contribute to the development of the South (cooperation approach) simultaneously. Transformation of the North and development of the South are connected in a wider context necessary for achieving sustainable development. Alianza por el Agua arises as an initiative of the organisation Ecología y Desarrollo (Ecology and Development, Zaragoza, Spain) which is also the Secretariat. Launched on 20 October 2006, at present Alianza por el Agua is supported by more than 30 partners from the Central American Region and Spain; For example, governmental institutions in Spain: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Ministry of the Environment, and in Central America: Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo (Environment and Development Central American Commission), water companies (e.g. EMASESA), NGOs (Red Cross, Intermón Oxfam) and social movements (Central American Fresh Water Action Network, Global Water Partnership, etc.).
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