A unique opportunity: looking forward to 2015

2015 is the year we can get clean water and safe toilets to the top of the global agenda. Our Campaigns Officer Rebecca Owen looks forward to the opportunities ahead.


31 Dec 2014 | UK

There are few years I've been as eager to see begin as 2015.

By the end of this year, things will be different. How different we've yet to find out, but in the next 12 months, decisions will be made that affect us all.

Our challenge? To be a part of it, and to seize this opportunity for everything it's worth. 

Making a fresh start

Here in the UK, we'll elect a new Government in 2015. With every new term comes the chance to take stock and make a fresh start – which means we have a unique opportunity to challenge the Department for International Development about their commitments to water and sanitation.

Our message will be about looking ahead. We know it's not enough just to address the urgent need for taps and toilets in the world's poorest communities – we also need to prevent future misery; it's relatively simple to build a water pump, but much more challenging to make sure the conditions are right to ensure a clean water supply becomes as permanent as our own.

That's why we need to work with governments around the world, to guarantee long-lasting change.

Delphine, 34, at the water source in Anjezika village.
Delphine collects water in Anjezika village, Madagascar.
Photo: WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

Looking back to lessons learned

2015 also marks a special anniversary here in the UK: 150 years since we made our first major investment in sanitation, and our first proper sewerage system opened at Crossness pumping station in East London.    

It's hard to imagine that, relatively recently, raw sewage ran through our streets and babies were lucky to live until their fifth birthday.

The construction of the new sewer was a momentous achievement. It heralded the beginning of universal access to taps and toilets in the UK, as well as a greater understanding of good hygiene.

Once it was built, it didn't take long for the nation's health to improve dramatically – making the 150 year anniversary the perfect opportunity to remind our Government of the lessons they learned about investing in long-term systems, lessons they can share with others.

It's also why we've launched our Big History Project, and want you to help us discover the story of taps and toilets across the UK. Find out how you can take part here >

Rojotiana, 10, Madagascar

"In 2015 I will be 11 years old and I would like to pass my exam." Rojotiana from Madagascar shares her hopes for 2015.
Photo: WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

The most off-track of all targets

In 2015, world leaders will decide how to end extreme poverty. They'll make life-changing decisions about climate change, inequality and injustice; decisions that will determine the future for all of us, and our planet.

That's why we've joined action/2015, a global movement to make sure they adopt truly ambitious goals, and secure the future for all of us, and our planet.

In terms of our work, the challenges are significant. Despite everything we know about the transformative impact of good sanitation, it's shocking that, as we enter the final year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it's still the most off-track of all targets. 2015 is the year when we can change this, and get clean water and safe toilets to the top of the global agenda.

In September, the world will sign up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), new targets designed to replace the MDGs and end extreme poverty by 2030. For years, our supporters have campaigned for a goal on water and sanitation to be included – and this is the year we hope your hard work will pay off.

A goal has already been proposed in the draft list and this year, that list will be finalised. For the very first time, water, sanitation and hygiene could receive the global priority they need, and that's very exciting indeed.

Are you ready? 2015, let’s go.

Read more about our work on the Sustainable Development Goals >