|Marco Caceres (h-68-166-41-18.mclnva23.covad.net - 188.8.131.52)|
|Posted on Friday, August 25, 2006 - 5:28 pm: |
Summit on Clean Water
Conference on Honduras 2006
Prepared by Marco Cáceres
The Summit on Clean Water will be a segment within the seventh annual Conference on Honduras, which will be held in Copán Ruinas during October 12-15, 2006. The Summit itself will take place on Saturday, October 14. It will begin at 7:00 am and end at 5:15 pm, with a buffet lunch served during 12:15-1:45 pm. Depending on participation and the desire of the participants, the Summit could be extended into the morning of Sunday, October 15.
The Conference on Honduras
The Conference on Honduras is an event that brings together representatives of those organizations involved in humanitarian/volunteer work to support Honduras in the areas of education, healthcare and community building. The central purpose of the conference is to provide a networking opportunity for people so that they can learn from each other’s activities and find ways to work together or at least coordinate and build on each other’s strengths and resources. The goal is to establish dynamic and long lasting relationships that can be developed through the projecthonduras.com online network.
The projecthonduras.com network consists of more than 5,500 individuals representing roughly 1,000 groups interested in empowering the Honduran people so that they can eventually be in a position to resolve any problems they may face. The network has as it home base the projecthonduras.com website at www.projecthonduras.com. It communicates via a series of listserv forums (www.projecthonduras.com/network.htm).
The Conference on Honduras offers the network a more personal forum in which to meet to exchange information about ongoing and proposed projects.
There are thousands of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals volunteering their time, energy, expertise, experience, talents and money to help the people of Honduras. The assumption of projecthonduras.com and the Conference on Honduras is that these volunteers are quietly and consistently making a positive difference in Honduras, and that they are doing it independently and out of a basic, natural desire to want to help.
The primary role of projecthonduras.com is to nurture, encourage and expand this impact through networking. The secondary role is to be a depository and dispensary of information, knowledge and contacts on how to get things done in Honduras. The vision is to do all of this consistently over the course of many generations.
Traditional models of development for poor countries are based on the disbursement of financial capital, either in the form of donations, loans or debt pardons. projecthonduras.com seeks to build an alternative model of development based on locating, mobilizing, coordinating and channeling “human capital”… essentially people, and ALL the resources they can bring into play, using the power of the Internet and other information and communications technologies (ICT).
The Summit on Clean Water falls under the second major theme of the Conference on Honduras, which is healthcare. It is the vision of projecthonduras.com and the Conference on Honduras to make access to clean water for all the people of Honduras the number one healthcare priority in the country.
There are hundreds of groups from the US, Canada and Europe involved in implementing clean water projects in Honduras. Some of these organizations are supported by well-known organizations such as USAID and Rotary International. Others are supported by a wide range of churches and universities. What they all have in common is that they generally do not coordinate or communicate with each other. Everyone is just kind of “doing their own thing”.
Working in isolation is at the heart of what projecthonduras.com and the Conference on Honduras seek to change. There has to be a “cultural shift” in the way individuals and groups work in Honduras if the country is ever to realize its full potential.
There is also a significant network of Honduran groups involved in providing water to the people of Honduras. The network consists of government agencies such as the Servicio Autonomo Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (SANAA) and associations such as the Red de Agua y Saneamiento de Honduras (RAS-HON). There already exists a wealth of information on the water situation and players in Honduras, and the related problems, needs and success stories.
projecthonduras.com believes that what is lacking in Honduras is a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated vision and strategy for ensuring clean water for every single community in Honduras. While there may exist a vision and strategy at some level, it has to be expanded to include all the water groups working in Honduras. It must also be expanded to include Honduras’ Ministry of Health as a key player.
Pure Water for the World (www.purewaterfortheworld.org) of Rutland, Vermont estimates that 50,000 children die in Honduras every year from drinking contaminated water. Bad water can sicken people with parasites, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery, and it can slow the physical and mental development of children. The deaths and health related problems caused by lack of clean water are at the level of a health epidemic, yet there does not seem to be a sense of urgency to deal with this epidemic.
At best, the efforts to provide clean water in Honduras are disjointed. The Summit on Clean Water would offer a step toward changing this. The Summit will provide an independent forum for anyone involved in clean water and sanitation projects in Honduras to contribute to a dialogue on how develop a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated vision and strategy to provide much greater access to clean water in Honduras.
It is the intent of the Summit to bring together representatives of foreign water groups with representatives of Honduran water groups so they can get to know each other and learn from each other. If the Summit can succeed in establishing a “simple system” by which all of these groups can begin to communicate and coordinate with each other on a regular bases, then it will have been a success.
The Summit offers a structured forum that will include 3-4 panels, focusing on providing background on the water situation in Honduras, information on ongoing and proposed potable water and sanitation projects in Honduras, and an exchange on the development of a common vision and strategy for clean water in Honduras.
As part of the vision to make clean water the number one healthcare priority in Honduras, the Summit will seek to develop a strategy for working closely with the Ministry of Health and convincing the Ministry that clean water is the most efficient way of providing good health to the Honduran population.
There is a general consensus within the water community that providing clean water to all Hondurans would automatically resolve half to three-quarters of the country’s medical problems. Clean water is the single-most best investment Honduras can make in order to reduce its healthcare costs and improve the ability of its people to learn and produce, thereby improving the country’s economy and stability.
A campaign to convince the Ministry of Health of the importance of clean water must be matched by a campaign to educate the people of Honduras. Many Hondurans, particularly in rural areas, still do not appreciate the direct connection between clean water and good health, or the opposite… contaminated water and illness.
The Summit must initiate a process to develop a working relationship with the media in Honduras for the purpose of educating the Honduran public on the importance of clean water. This campaign must be a constant one that is seen and heard everywhere until the problem is completely resolved and Honduras can be held up as a model for other countries to emulate.
Finally, the Summit must be the first of many to come. When it is over, everyone will return to their homes and their jobs, and they will continue to do what they’ve always done… with one exception. And that is that they will commit to staying in regular touch and sharing information online through the projecthonduras.com network. The first task that participants will undertake will be to spread the word about the Summit, and to begin planning for the second Summit on Clean Water at the Conference on Honduras 2007.
Really, the Summit is all about beginning to implement good organization and communications. Clean water is clearly on the agenda of the international donating and lending community. Clean water is contained within UN Millenium Development Goal #7.
In addition to improving the efficiency of the groups that are currently helping with water projects in Honduras, the Summit could serve to fuel the involvement of additional groups and attract money that might not have otherwise gone to Honduras due to a lack of a national vision and strategy.
If there are any questions or comments regarding this paper, please e-mail Marco Cáceres at firstname.lastname@example.org