Lisa Schechtman is the head of policy and advocacy at WaterAid in America, the U.S. member of WaterAid International, the world’s largest NGO focused on providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) services for poor communities in 27 countries around the world. Prior to joining WaterAid, Lisa served as policy director at the Global AIDS Alliance, and was a member of the Developed Country NGO Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Lisa has a Masters of Arts in International Human Rights and Global Health Affairs from the University of Denver, and a B.A. in English Literature and French Language from Northwestern University. She is based in Washington, DC.
A budget is a moral document. It reflects priorities, whether household choices or government. A budget is also a policy document, because those line items aren’t an abstract concept. They are guidance for what we do.
It’s been 12 years since November 19 was first deemed World Toilet Day. This year, though, there’s a lot more fanfare. That’s because the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution that, for the first time, makes November 19 an official day of international observance to recognize the 2.5 billion people in the world who live without a toilet.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a small country in the south Pacific not too far from Australia’s northern-most tip. It’s fascinating and beautiful, made up of more than 600 islands and 800 languages. A full 86% of the population lives in rural areas, many nowhere near even a dirt road. In our world of rapid urbanization and homogenization, this is almost unheard of.
One thing I love about my job is that no two days are the same. “Policy and advocacy” means lots of things: listening, persuading, recommending a course of action and—perhaps most importantly—giving a voice to people who haven’t been given the opportunity to speak up for themselves. Advocacy happens when someone engages in dialogue about an issue they care about—and I care about making water and sanitation a reality for people in every corner of the globe.
Water is a women’s issue.
It’s an important adage, one that highlights how we expect governments to prioritize investments in safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), and water resource management. It links to the theme of this year’s World Water Day, too.
Ever heard of NTDs? They are the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) whose infamous members include trachoma, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and soil transmitted helminths (STH) or worms.
The legendary Robin Hood patrolled Sherwood Forest with a band of merry men, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. This past September, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) hoped that a band of merry men and women in Congress would pass H.R. 6411, the Inclusive Prosperity Act. The approach proposed by the bill, known as a Robin Hood Tax or, more technically, a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), does not steal from the rich, but it does seek to fund the poor.
1961 produced some classics, such as Paul Newman in The Hustler, Ray Charles singing “Hit the Road Jack,” and Barbie’s Ken. It also produced an American vision of foreign aid.
Imagine living with no toilet in your home, village or slum. As a woman, your best option for privacy is to walk to the bush or an open field to urinate, defecate, or manage your menstrual hygiene needs, or to risk dirty crowded alleyways because latrine blocks are unavailable to you. But you know it’s not safe after dark: people are robbed, murdered, and raped. Now, imagine it’s the middle of the night, and you really need to go. What do you do?
Charles Dickens wrote “I hope I have taken every available opportunity of showing the want of sanitary improvements in the neglected dwellings of the poor.”
He couldn’t have been more spot on in his observations of the links between sanitation, poverty, rapid urbanization and population growth in the 19th century.