WFSS & Sustainability Goals- Working Toward a Better Future

This is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

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Water is a universal need that is also a scarce resource. Unfortunately, this need increases with every day and the world needs to find a way to make water accessible to everyone who needs it. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Swedish International Water Institute (SIWI), told a panel discussion on water and the landscape approach, “There is an increasing demand and competition for water resources, so we need to be more efficient in the way we allocate water.”  

This is where the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals come in. Although Goal 6, Ensure access to water and sanitation for all, and the other Sustainable Development Goals have been met with a great amount of positivity, there are some who are not as sure of the impact that these goals will have on the world.

One such person is David Kuria, author of Sustainable Development Goals: Another Wasteful Venture for Kenya? Kuria, in his article, is wary of placing focus on global change. He suggests that “instead of prescribing a broad set of 17 goals for the world, we should instead be guided by a country’s own development priorities.” In his opinion, each country should make its own priorities because making generalizations about what needs to be fixed in the world may leave out some of the needs of different countries.

While this is a valid concern and countries should make sure that they are meeting the needs of their people, the Sustainable Development Goals are a much-needed stepping stone towards ending issues such as poverty, hunger, and lack of access to clean water. These goals, and other organizations that have the same objectives, encourage all who have the capability to change people’s lives. For the goals to be reached, all need to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and the people of the world. 

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is committed to transforming lives by providing access to fresh water and hygiene education, and has been on the ground in South Sudan since 2005. Bringing access and education to those in need in remote villages, we are making a difference and helping people take a step towards a better future. 

As of August, 2015, WFSS has drilled 259 wells. Hygiene education has been a part of our work since 2014, and plans are underway to begin researching sanitation solutions in the areas in which we drill. The new season is set to begin in January, 2016. Goals include visiting 40 new villages to install wells and provide hygiene education, and launching a new pilot project which plans to rehabilitate the cement platforms of 20 older wells. 

SDGs: Ensuring Access to Water and Sanitation

The United Nations has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they hope to achieve between now and 2030. Covering a wide range of topics, these goals strive to “end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and address climate change.” Among these goals, there are two water related targets, which aim to ensure access to water and sanitation for all and conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.

One question that needs to be answered in terms of making these goals a reality is how they will be financed. Chris Williams, a writer for the Huffington Post and the Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, voices his concerns in his article Can We Finance Sustainable Development? He explains that “Traditional channels of overseas development assistance (ODA) from developed nations to the developing world are not only insufficient for financing the ambitious post-2015 agenda, but it's clear that development as we know it is no longer relevant, nor desirable.”

Fortunately, there are many opportunities available for people to get involved in the global initiative to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all. Chris Williams states that one option that has proven successful is the use of global multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). The UN also suggests that one thing the everyday person can do is raise awareness by joining or spreading the word about the civil society-led Action/2015 campaign, which will be hosting multiple events around the world.

 As for Water for South Sudan (WFSS), there are many options available for helping to drill more wells and increase access to safe, clean water. Water for South Sudan currently receives no government funding to run its operations in South Sudan. The nonprofit organization raises its own funds and is supported by donors in all 50 US States and 29 other countries. The full cost to drill a well  is $15,000, with well naming sponsorship levels starting at $5,000.  Individuals are encouraged to donate any gift amount, no matter how much, and groups, such as schools or families, can raise money through WFSS’s Well Sponsorship Program and receive naming rights for the well that they helped to finance. Other options include the H2O Project, which encourages people to donate the money they would spend on beverages for two weeks and only drink water, and organizing a fundraising project from one of the many ideas posted on the WFSS website.