The 1st World Summit on Leaving No One Behind selected three winners of exploratory projects that seek to demonstrate innovative approaches to water and sanitation solutions. They all capture the same theme using a human-rights based approach and using local and community-based solutions that can be tested and scaled up through integration into policy.

The three equal winning projects represented themes from the Summit and people that are marginalised through gender, disability or remote, rural communities.

Deepthi Wickramasinghe, University of Colombo and Sri Lanka Water Partnership, presented a project on “Rainwater Harvesting as an Alternative Water Source in CKDU Affected Areas in Sri Lanka”. Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Aetiology (CKDU), is prevalent in agricultural areas where ground and surface water become polluted with agrochemicals and toxins.

It seeks to demonstrate how village level rain water harvesting societies can be formed as an alternative to using other contaminated water sources, to reduce the impact of CKDU. The project will provide community rainwater solutions backed by training and awareness campaigns. It helps to realise the human right to water through provision of clean water in accessible locations.

A second project on “Building an Enabling Environment for Universal Access to Safe Water in Colombia” was presented by Eva Manzano from the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). CAWST has found that one of the main barriers for access to safe drinking water in rural communities is local knowledge of technical solutions. This project supports government agencies and local implementers with training and support to establish workable solutions.

And, it was interesting to see the focus on disabilities and elderly sanitation as demonstrated through a third project from Ramisetty Murali from the Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA) and Snehalatha Mekala from the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERS). Their project, titled “Local Government Lead Action to Translate Policy Commitment – Inclusive Sanitation Progress for Disabled Children”, deals with the issues of inequity and exclusion in the development of sanitation facilities, particularly affecting groups who are already marginalized.

This project sets out to establish partnership with district level governments to develop model communities where sanitation needs are fully met. It aims to provide accessible, affordable and non-discriminatory toilets to best serve marginalized groups, elder populations and disabled peoples.

All of these exploratory projects will be featured throughout the year during the UN-Water campaign on Leaving No One Behind.