Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clinton Global Initiative Part 1: Water, water, nowhere

Sorry for the gap in posts – have been on the road a lot lately, including a couple of very interesting visits to water development groups in Guatemala – check out Agua del Pueblo here or google them to find out more about their work for those of you interested in Guatemala. They are primarily funded by a bilateral relationship with the Spanish government now, but looking to diversify and expand their work with water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.

I’m blogging today from right in the middle of the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, waiting patiently for a direct mention of water, sanitation, hygiene, diarrhea, cholera, or anything… Throw me a bone people! There has been a great deal of optimistic, inspiring discussion in the plenary and breakouts so far from 52+ current and former heads of state and probably 1000 other people, representing 600+ commitments, tens of millions of lives impacted or saved, in over 100 countries.

Five significant commitments have been made public so far, the most interesting of which is the “Global Campaign to Reduce Maternal and Child Deaths in Poor Countries” launched by Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg with others.

Finally, a discussion early this afternoon in the Global Health session about Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s commitment elicited an interesting remark from CARE’s President and CEO Helene Gayle. She suggested that in order to meet the goals laid out by the Prime Minister, it is necessary to take a broader approach to child and maternal health, and focus on the causes of that mortality and morbidity – and she mentioned safe water and sanitation specifically.

More to come.

PS Off to question Jane Goodall about the nexus of biodiversity conservation (viz. great apes) and homo sapiens need for safe drinking water. See earlier related post here.

PPS Best quote ever: Development is about much more than safe water, but never about less.


John said...

Good quote -- who said it?

John Oldfield said...

Good question John - had to think about it for a minute - I usually try to forget where I get clever quotes and then stake my claim. However, it was TIM HANSTAD, President and CEO, Rural Development Institute who said this, at the Hilton Foundation conference in NYC recently. He is a land rights guy, so I was gratified to hear him speak so eloquently about water. So please check out:

One more piece of wisdom from Tim: He of course said that one shouldn't just give a man a fish, but teach him to fish. But also, Tim suggests, take one more step - consider who owns the rights to the pond... Powerful stuff.

John said...

Thanks John,

I've got designs on the quote myself. I've just recently started volunteering for Global Poverty Action, a small non-profit that works on community-based water infrastructure projects in southern Ethiopia. We're gearing up for our biggest project to date -- the repair of a washed out earthen dam that will provide a year-around supply of water for 3,000 people. Pretty exciting stuff.

It's one of the wonders of the internet that a novice on water and development like me can get a bead on the big issues in play from an expert like yourself. Thanks for your blog -- it's a great public service.


John Hoole

John Oldfield said...


Great. Keep up the good work. A couple of related items to check out:

- you'll run into the Millennium Water Alliance (or its members) in Ethiopia - see

- for examples of other groups doing earthen dams (either for drinking water or to replenish groundwater tables) see:


Both are dynamite groups.