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DEV Research Seminar: Oxfam's Sustainable WASH Programming

Oxfam's Sustainable WASH Programming: Tackling the challenges of growing water insecurity and inequality

Tim Forster & Jola Miziniak

10th February, 12-1pm, Arts 0.30


Remembering that global water crisis is rooted in power, poverty and inequality, not just in physical availability (1),  requires greater efforts by Oxfam to seek a combined approach to tackling the issues of water management. If left unaddressed, the impact is, and will continue to be, most acutely felt by the poorest and most marginalized groups of society. Many of the 50 countries where Oxfam works are prone to repeated environmental disasters, climatic shocks and conflicts with often ‘too much’ or ‘too little water’. This places enormous strains on all aspects of society and economies. We see inequalities emerge or exacerbated after; natural disasters alter the landscape, climate change creates incrementally worsening conditions, and/or the pace of change outruns the pace of development. When thinking about how to approach water insecurity, Oxfam will consider not only “how much” is required but also “for whom” (2)  so that water resources are more equitably distributed, affordable and accessible. Inequalities are perpetuated by poor planning, management, governance and investment in water resources, contributing to an uneven distribution of services highlighted by the large and growing percentage of populations in underserved areas.  One of the most pervasive inequities is the lack of access to safe water and sanitation. This fundamental right (3)  is still being overlooked with 65% of the global population without access to safe drinking water, and 54% of those without adequate sanitation (4).

Jola Miziniak is Oxfam’s WASH Governance Adviser implementing Oxfam’s strategy in long-term water and sanitation programming, as well as supporting countries in their WASH and water resources management programming linked to policy. She has over 10 years’ experience in Africa, Asia, Middle East and LAC with various UN and INGO’s in both humanitarian and development sectors particularly focusing on WASH in areas of protracted crisis.
Tim Forster is working as a Regional WASH Advisor for Middle East and Commonwealth of Independent States (MECIS). Tim has over 20 years of practical emergency and development field experience in the water and sanitation sector. Since 2003, he has since been involved in responding to humanitarian crises, as well as in designing a number of development and research projects. Tim has also assisted several Oxfam country teams to develop dedicated sanitation programmes. 

1) Human Development report; Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis.  UNDP 2006

2) The real water crisis; inequality in a fast changing world. ODI 2014