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In six countries including Mali, IRC is working to ensure the people's voice is heard in the context of monitoring and advocacy around sustainable public water and sanitation services. From 20 to 22 December 2016 a workshop was held in Bamako to prepare for the operational launch of project activities.

Very soon, IRC and its partners, Simavi, AKVO and Wetlands International, with the financial support of the Dutch Government, will be launching the Watershed programme on the ground in Mali. In preparation for the start of activities, a workshop was held in Bamako from 20 to 22 December to share experiences with the media and civil society organisations on "Citizen-led monitoring of public action in the water and sanitation sector in Mali".

Indeed, to meet the challenge of SDG 6 and to achieve universal access to water and sanitation, everyone needs to get involved and the general public needs to be able to (and know how to) monitor and check the services provided by the authorities. And should these services fall short, be able to demand solutions through joint advocacy and lobbying actions. To this end, operational implementation of the Watershed programme will begin early in 2017 for a duration of 5 years. It will be coordinated in Mali by Wetlands International in partnership with AKVO and IRC.

"In terms of successful development in Africa, citizens coming together within civil society organisations have an important role to play in the effective and equitable provision of public services in general and those of water and sanitation in particular", Hilaire Dongobada, Representing the IRC Burkina Country Director.

In Mali, the Watershed programme aims at building the capacities of civil society and national media to be able to fully and effectively fulfil their responsibilities in terms of monitoring and control of public water and sanitation services and advocating and lobbying for their continued development. These capacities will be built by improving their organisational structure, providing analysis tools and providing training as well as a modest financial contribution to carry out people-led monitoring initiatives regarding public action in the water and sanitation sector.

This initial meeting, which brought together more than 25 participants from the various Malian media organisations and civil society organisations working in the fields of water and sanitation and public participation, helped to frame the context of these services in Mali and what is meant by citizen-led monitoring and the importance of having reliable and accurate data upon which to base coordinated advocacy and lobbying actions. The participants welcomed the actions proposed by the Watershed programme with great enthusiasm, highlighting the importance of citizen involvement.

You will shortly be able to read more on the Watershed activities in Mali!