In a series of three sessions, WaterLex hosted events together with OHCHR and IDB, as well as Caritas, WfWp and GIZ, on the topic of “Protecting Ecosystem Balance and Human Rights” during World Water Week. Each session focused on a particular group. The first session was on Women and Children. It was well attended, and people were fully engaged in the speakers, which offered engaging personal stories from Kerkenneh Island (Tunisia), Sri Lanka, Haiti, and Kenya. All were from women that live or work in those areas, and could share the challenges of water, sanitation and hygiene for women and children that they know. To make the link with ecosystems, these stories were told with examples of how the connection with nature helps to find solutions for managing water better, protecting the water source, and optimising scarce water supplies.
Aida Ghram Kachouri was one of the speakers. She is from Kerkenneh Islands in Tunisia and told of how they have managed water on their island by using traditional tales and creation of new tales which allow for transmitting good practices to different users of water and make them aware of the importance of responsible and sustainable management of water resources. She presented and told one such tale in her native Arabic and translated on the screen with colourful pictures.
Kusum Athukorala also spoke of her experiences. She is the chair of NetWater and a multidisciplinary skilled development professional. As a Trustee of the National Community Water Trust Sri Lanka, she works on promoting climate related advocacy for community-based organizations managing drinking water supply and she has pioneered several initiatives in linking private sector CSR programmes in water conversation including a programme for capacity building of women leaders at community water.
Lucie Leclert from Caritas introduced and discussed the Blue Schools Kit. A Blue School offers a healthy environment and exposes students to environmentally-friendly technologies and practices that can be replicated in their communities. In these three cases, the link with education of children in schools was included as an important factor, using stories, art, music, dance and drama as conduits to engage the pupils, and introduce new thinking. It is clear that the impression that is made on children in schools can also be relayed back to parents and teachers.
Anamaria Nunez from the Inter-American Development Bank spoke about the hygiene and sanitation challenges in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Her presentation high-lighted the importance of engaging the community, post disaster, to talk about the importance of hygiene helped in changing the cultural taboo. All four presentations were highly graphical and included music, singing, videos and personal stories. It was lovely to see the colours on stage with women in traditional dress. The session was closed with an expert presentation from former special rapporteur on water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque.