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How to make World Water Week more fun

From 23rd of August until the 1st of September World Water Week takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. Belinda Abraham, who works in the WASH Business Unit of Viva con Agua, explains why it is important to take an active role at this – let’s be honest – kind of stiff conference.

Belinda wants to shake things up in a good way @World Water Week 2022. Foto: Anna Schäffer

For the next two weeks, Sweden is all about water. You see traditionally, Stockholm World Water Week was a Swede celebration of all things water. And since 1991, the Swedish International Water Institute (SIWI) decided to use this week to create one of the largest and foremost international conferences on water. The event welcomes up to 3,300 delegates from all over the world. Like any typical conference, people dressed very formally, spoke stiffly about how wonderful their projects are. Even if reality was different. Most of the people were working in engineering, business, government, academic, research or in the UN. And most of them come from the global north. There was a lot of (sometimes boring) talk. I know this personally because I have been there already.

Yeah, right, this sounds very different from what happens in the Viva con Agua cosmos. But the conference is also important. Why? It is where major international deals are made and multi-million Euro projects are launched. This conference is where philanthropists, donors, scientists, and practitioners share trade secrets and their latest innovations. It’s a good opportunity to pick up a lot of good things.

If you want things to change, you need to be there

And you know what: things are changing. Last time I went to the conference in 2019, it was already a little different. The session on climate change with men and women in grey business suits was replaced by indigenous elders wearing their traditional colourful clothing and speaking their truths. The entrance displayed had a huge puppet from One Drop Foundation of Cirque du Soleil as a piece of Art for WASH, instead of conference posters and business cards. A room of stiff government officials now was a room mixed with activists for gender, youth, and disability rights for WASH. I was amazed.

This year, Viva con Agua’s WASH team thought it’s important to shake things up in a good way. We will do it Viva con Agua Style. We are hosting two unique online sessions on Universal Language for Behaviour Change (UL4BC) using sports, music, art, and games to create communities for WASH. Furthermore we will host two game nights. And we’ll hold sessions at the GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Alliance booth for our new board game, (it’s called WASH!) throughout the conference. It’s important that we do not only talk. We want to show how many other ways there are to do WASH. And that having joy and fun is one way to break down barriers and connect communities. It’s also why we called one of our sessions ‘Beyond Words’.

It is Viva con Agua’s creative approaches whether in training or technology which drew me to join the cosmos this year. As I work on institutional fundraising, my hope is that more people will learn about Viva con Aguas joyful and fun approaches. That they want to partner with us or fund our projects. And just maybe one or two stiff conference-goers get to be flexible and join the movement: Wasser für alle – Alle für Wasser!

If you want to support Viva con Agua and its joyful and fun approaches you can easily donate online or be part of the family by getting active for clean drinking water.

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