The recently concluded Sector Ministers Meeting (SMM) held in Costa Rica was attended by about 260 participants from around 70 countries. As part of the Mutual Accountability Mechanism (MAM), 47 governments tabled a total of 159 commitments. Government delegation from Vietnam which is one of the 11 pioneer countries for the Mutual Accountability Mechanism also participated in the SMM. Viet Nam also tabled commitments which emerged from national dialogues prior to the SMM.
Two of the key commitments tabled by them are as follows:
- National open defecation free (ODF) action plan approved and implemented,
- Increasing water, sanitation and hygiene access to women and girls, in particular vulnerable women in 5 provinces.
The SWA Secretariat has been following up with governments and constituencies to review the commitments and ensure the commitments are truly embedded in ongoing national processes to improve their implementation. The SMM played an important role in further sensitization of the Viet Nam government representatives who participated in the SMM. As a result, the government representative, the Director General of the Viet Nam Health Environment Management Agency (VIHEMA) under the Ministry of Health called for greater multi-stakeholder efforts in achieving the national level targets of Sustainable Development Goals 6 (SDG6). After the SMM, the government made a call to relevant stakeholders including other government agencies, the private sector, civil society organizations, and research and learning agencies to join its efforts to achieve and contribute to the WASH goals and make them accountable by drawing their own commitments. The government also invited the Committee for Ethnic and Minority Affairs which is a key institution for inclusion in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector especially on matters focused on Leave No One Behind. It was important to align their commitments to the existing commitments submitted by the Government of Vietnam during the recent SMM.
A half day meeting was called by the Ministry of Health to discuss the mutual accountability mechanism in general and the commitments from each institution in particular. The discussion also provided the SWA Secretariat Staff with the opportunity to update all the agencies on the outcomes of the SMM as well as the recommendations for follow-up. The Secretariat was also invited to present on the SWA framework and support the different constituencies in framing commitments.
Different stakeholders highlighted their own institution commitments with regards to the commitments already identified by the government. Representatives from Ministry of Construction, Ministry of Agriculture, UNICEF, Civil Society, Private Sector, and others, participated and shared their own institutional approaches to respond to the government commitments, with most of the partners tabling new commitments.
Clear ideas emerged on Vietnam’s interest in learning from other contexts particularly in the Building Block of institutional arrangements including on insights for joint management of the key sub-sectors. The government also expressed keen interest on evidence and data including studies on issues related to inequalities in particular on service models that can effectively integrate private sector service delivery while safeguarding access to services for the poor. There was also interest to use the SWA costing tool to contribute towards the financial analysis for the sector.
Commitments were developed and presented by Unilever from Private Sector and organizations like EastMeetsWest Foundation, Youth Union and Women Union which represent the civil society. This overall shows a steady progress by the sector led by government in using the SWA framework to catalyze discussions aimed at accelerating progress towards the SDGs. Most importantly, the framework and commitments made reflect a conscious effort to focus on connecting the last mile and leaving no one behind. Two of the new commitments tabled after the SMM specifically focus on improving access for women in general and women leaving with disabilities.
East Meet West
- Increase water, sanitation and hygiene access to women and girls, in particular vulnerable women in five provinces.
- Enhance access to sanitation for women with disabilities in some areas of Viet Nam (2018-2022)
Unilever in Viet Nam
- Raise awareness, changing behavior and assisting people and students in rural areas access and use standard sanitation and safe water
This encouraging momentum shown by Vietnam after the SMM needs to continue with support from SWA Secretariat and other key stakeholders. Being a pioneer country on the Mutual Accountability Mechanism, the signs shown have been positive.