"The challenge now is to match the expectations and enthusiasm of local people and communities who have participated in VISION 21 with concrete action", says WSSCC Chair, Dr Richard Jolly. WSSCC is mounting global, regional and local campaigns to support VISION 21 activities in the 21 countries where the Vision is already being converted into action, and to spread the approaches into other countries. Donor and NGO support is being sought for the locally-based activities which are at the heart of the process.
Throughout the Forum discussions, Water for People has been singled out as the prime example of the participatory process at work. Its status was bolstered further yesterday when, in his address to the Ministerial Conference, the Prince of Orange told the 115 ministers and other officials that the democratic participation of citizens is the way forward in elaborating and implementing water policies and projects.
Later, in a hastily scheduled meeting to respond to NGO concerns about the overall Vision process, Eveline Herfkens sympathised with their position and invited them to continue to lobby for greater participation in the drafting of the Framework for Action. Reminded that Dutch support had helped the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to bring together local stakeholders in 21 countries to develop VISION 21 Water for People, she promised to share the report with her Ministerial colleagues and to provide further Dutch support for NGOs promoting public participation in Vision follow-up. The NGO statement delivered at the Ministerial Conference specifically supports "the process of community-based participation employed for Vision 21 (Vision for Water for People)."
There were other tributes too. Frank Rijsberman, co-author of the World Water Council Vision told the press, during a briefing with HRH the Prince of Orange: "We applaud the exemplary efforts of the WSSCC in ensuring that this spirit of collaboration among stakeholders and partners would be upheld throughout the Vision exercise." A statement by NGO WaterAid urged recognition of the process and content of VISION 21 by the 4,500 participants at the Second World Water Forum.
Among the goals in VISION 21 is universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene by the year 2025. There are still 3 billion people in the world without hygienic sanitation facilities, and this leads to five thousand children dying each day from diarrhoeal disease. Water, sanitation and hygiene are implied to be basic human rights in existing International Conventions, according to WSSCC, which urges Ministers to make it explicit in national legislation.