Optimism and inspiration in Stockholm for global water issues

Last month, like previous years, we attended the World Water Week conference in Stockhom. During this international platform around three thousand experts, policy makers, businesses and NGO’s attended to discuss the most urgent, global issues around water related issues. For the first time this year, and in three separate sessions, Max Foundation presented its work. Amongst others, our Country Director Bangladesh Riad Mahmud spoke about WASH and nutrition and the crucial role women play in WASH.

Every year it is an inspiring event for us, to exchange ideas with other organisations working on the same issues.  Max Foundation aims to be a game changer in the WASH sector, trying out and introducing new, effective ways of working. This forum gave us a great opportunity to present our innovations and receive input from other experts.

Focus on nutrition and WASH
This year an important focus for us was stunting (inhibited growth in children with serious long term consequences) and how it is possible to ensure communities become free of it. Together with UNICEF Bangladesh our Director Riad Mahmud, and in a full room of around fifty people, presented the ‘WASH-Nutrition Nexus’: an effective approach to combat stunting.


(Photo: Riad Mahmud, our Country Director Bangladesh presenting during one of sessions, together with facilitator Femke Markus)

We discussed examples from the field showing how combining WASH services and good nutrition can prevent children from suffering malnutrition and stunting. We showed how monitoring their growth leads to behaviour change and ensures that people practice good hygiene. Riad recounts: “It was so encouraging to see how our views were much appreciated and how we received valuable input from the group. I really noticed how people became more optimistic about the possibility to create ‘stunting free villages’. Within the sector, including the government, we still think too much in compartments. But the crux is really to combine different interventions within one programme”.

(Photo: UNICEF)

The role of women in decision making
One of our MaxWASH-projects in the south of Bangladesh provided a case study during a seminar on the role of women in WASH management. Participants in the session agreed that for transformation to happen, women need to have decision making roles in planning and managing WASH. In the third seminar, together with others from WASH Alliance International we discussed our learnings in the field of fecal sludge management in Bangladesh.

During the conference we saw new possibilities for cooperation with likeminded organisations. We also think that our market focused way of working, and transferring responsibilities for the programmes to local communities, governments and entrepreneurs, will help to make the WASH sector more sustainble.

Interesting links (from other organisations) :

--> "Money, politics and business models: take homes from Stockholm"

--> Summaries on nutrition and WASH, including our session

--> Summaries on fecal sludge management, including our session:

--> Conference World Water Week

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