|Addressing the Water Crisis - Healthier and more Productive Lives for Poor People (DFID, 2001, 58 p.)|
|3. Experience to date|
3.2.1 In 1977, the World Water Conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina designated the 1980s as the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. The Decade gave the water sector an international boost. Its creation gave water supply and sanitation a higher profile among politicians and decision-makers around the world, while the universal coverage targets set for the Decade concentrated people's minds even though they were over-ambitious. During the Decade, many agencies and governments overhauled their supply-led approaches to water and sanitation, which focused almost exclusively on the construction of new infrastructure. They introduced more appropriate technologies and started to integrate hygiene promotion, sanitation and water supply. Experience in community management grew rapidly. The need for consistent data to monitor progress on service provision prompted WHO and UNICEF to establish their Joint Monitoring Programme in 1986 to collect data in a standard form.
3.2.2 The New Delhi Conference in 1990 highlighted the lessons of the Decade and the changing working methods of governments, civil society and the private sector. Building on these conclusions, and on other lessons learned in water resources management, a new framework for developing water resources and sanitation was articulated at the International Conference on Water and the Environment in Dublin in 1992. This recognised that to increase services required involving a wider set of stakeholders, with governments increasingly standing back from providing services to create environments that would facilitate public-private partnership in service provision.
3.2.3 As a result of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, also in 1992, the emphasis on water supply and basic sanitation for public health widened to recognise that the management and use of water is part of broader environmental protection and sustainable development. This was complemented by global concern over water scarcity and water pollution. The Earth Summit endorsed the need for action to improve water supply and sanitation, emphasising the particular challenge of ensuring sustainable water supply for cities. It also called for integrated management of water resources, protection of water quality and management of water for food production. Box 6 summarises the international consensus reached through the Dublin and Rio conferences.
Box 6: International consensus on water principles
· fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment,
Rio, Agenda 21:
· ensure the integrated management and development of water resources,
Source: ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels 1998
3.2.4 Since the Dublin and Rio conferences, most governments and agencies have started to implement these principles. To turn the principles into practice we suggest a particular focus on the three lessons discussed in paragraph 3.1.2 as set out below.