End Water Poverty is a global civil society coalition campaigning to end the water and sanitation crisis.
Campaign on water and sanitation during election time!
That's why we're encouraging civil society around the world to use election time to campaign on water and sanitation issues!
Politicians care about your votes
Campaigns are sometimes put on hold in the run up to elections because politicians are even busier than usual, and the public and media focus is on the political process, but elections are the time when politicians are most likely to listen, because they want the votes we can bring them!
So think about making the next election a key moment in your campaign calendar! It could really help push water and sanitation demands up the political agenda!
How you do it will depend on your country and the type of election you campaign around, but there are plenty of ideas on how to plan and deliver a successful election campaign in our election toolkit.
The toolkit covers all aspects of a successful election campaign, including:
- Identifying potential targets
- Ways of influencing your chosen targets
- Creating coalitions to strengthen your campaign
- Developing your campaign message
- Methods of campaigning, from rallies to digital activism
- Following up on pledges after the election
Download the toolkit here.
You can also access the Election Toolkit in French.
Even if no election has been called in your country, you can start planning your strategy and actions now in order to make your campaign as effective as possible.
As every country is different, the toolkit is not a blueprint but a collection of ideas and case studies to inspire and support you in utilising an election to make real gains in water and sanitation provision. It’s worth checking your national rules and regulations on elections, for example regarding holding rallies or offering a fair balance between candidates.
Get inspiration from other End Water Poverty members
The toolkit draws on the experience of End Water Poverty members to help you create your own election campaign, and one of the case studies outlined is Liberia. The Liberia CSOs WASH Network ran a hugely successful campaign which saw electoral candidates pledge to address water and sanitation issues. The pledge cards used generated significant media coverage for WASH issues and meant that the politicians’ promises could be followed up afterwards.
As Prince Kreplah, Chairman of the Liberia CSOs WASH Network has stated, “Candidates tend to know some of the issues, but are often more vague on what the solutions are and what they should be promoting, so this provides campaigners with a chance to both educate and influence key decision makers”.
To achieve the aims of your campaign, you can develop a range of tools to use in your advocacy and lobbying work.
Several countries have rolled out campaigns during elections and below is a selection of the tools they have used which you might find useful for inspiration:
Pledge cards (or Charter of Demands as called in some cases) can be very effective advocacy tools during elections. They are documents that contain a series of key pledges/commitments that you would like candidates to sign-up to in the run-up to elections (examples of these below). You can then use these signed pledge cards for follow-up and hold elected candidates to account for their commitments during the post election period. For tips on how to develop a pledge card download the Campaign Tools - Pledge card.
For other country examples:
- Liberia Election Campaign Pledge Card
- Sierra Leone Election Campaign Pledge Card
- Kenya Election Campaign Pledge Card
- Pakistan - Charter of Demand (on last page of document)
Briefing papers can provide a quick snapshot of the key current issues in the sector (usually 1 to 2 pages long). This can be particularly useful during an election to brief journalists, candidates or citizens of the main points you are campaigning for. These can also provide some context for these issues for people that are new to them. See country examples below:
A powerful, easy-to-understand and distinct brand can boost the visibility of your campaign. Frequently, campaigns will involve numerous organisations and having a single campaign logo can be a crucial rallying point and provide a unique identity that people can get behind. You can then develop stickers and related materials to promote the campaigns, and use them in different places to grow your audience and coverage. For example, ask taxis throughout the city to put a sticker of your campaign logo on their cars!
Killer Statistics Posters:
Posters inclduing hard-hitting statistics relating to the campaign issues can be useful tools to grab people's attention. These are particularly effective during rallies or in discussions with journalists. These are groups who like powerful catchy statistics and facts that they can use in media coverage and as slogans.
These are just a handful of tools that you may want to consider using. Others could include infographics, short films and crisis talks - use whatever works best in your context and with your audience! We welcome any further suggestions and examples that you may have, so please feel free to share: send information to firstname.lastname@example.org
To inspire you and highlight how other civil society actors and networks have run WASH Campaigns during election times, here are a few case studies.
Liberia - Keeping Up the Pressure - Campaigning during the first 100 Days following an election
This case study provides an insight into the WASH Campaign led by CSOs in Liberia during the country’s 2011 Presidential and Parliamentarian elections. The report focuses on the activities carried out during the first 100 days after the election results, a crucial period in the campaign to maintain pressure on newly elected candidates and ensure they honour the pledges they have made. The following document presents a series of tips and some advice for CSOs considering running a campaign during elections.
Case Study: 'First 100 Days' - the Liberian country case study
Liberia - WASH Campaign during the Liberian Presidential Elections of 2011
The United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency & Development in Liberia (UYPETDL) Inc. conducted a WASH election campaign during the 2011 general and presidential elections as a means of raising the profile of WASH at both national and local levels. Targeting aspiring candidates for election as House Representatives and Senators, the campaign aimed to increase legislators understanding of WASH issues and identify WASH Champions within the two houses to push forward and support the country's WASH sector agenda. Find out about the campaign tools used, the people they targeted and the achievements by reading the following case study: Liberia - Case Study of WASH Election Campaign
Sierra Leone - 'I'm Voting for Safe Water and Sanitation' election campaign
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (WASH-Net) is a CSO network in Sierra Leone carrying out advocacy and campaigns to emphasize the need for social mobilization to lift WASH to a higher level of priority. WASH-Net, and its partners, saw the 2012 Presidential elections in Sierra Leone as a major opportunity to raise water and sanitation as election campaign issues, ensuring WASH issues were clearly prioritized in candidates’ development plans. The campaign was focused on:
1. Lobbying candidates and their political parties to make relevant WASH commitments
2. Providing citizens with information and platforms to engage candidates on WASH issues
The campaign was a nation-wide event in all 14 districts of the country promoting the campaign’s key WASH messages. The WASH Campaign targeted the various political candidates from the national to the council level. The campaign resulted in the signing of WASH pledge cards by candidates containing specific WASH commitments that CSOs are now able to monitor and follow-up with the new Government officials. The campaign also helped to raise the profile, visibility and prioritisation of WASH issues, contributing to the newly established Ministry for Water Resource.
To learn about challenges faced, lessons learnt and tips for campaigners considering similar actions, please download the Election Case Study - Sierra Leone (detailed version) or the Election Case Study - Sierra Leone (short version).
Pakistan - Harnessing Political Will for Improved WASH Sector in Pakistan
A month before the general election in Pakistan (15th April, 2013) the campaign (charter of Demand) was launched in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sind, through FANSA Pakistan member organizations, to mobilize politicians and raise their awareness of WASH challenges in Pakistan. A total of 600 candidates contesting provincial and national assembly election signed the charter (Charter can be viewed on the final page of the "Harnessing Political Will" pdf file link below).
The Campaign focused on the following objectives:
- Highlight the challenges and importance of Sanitation & Water sector
- Utilise the assembly floor for the betterment of the sanitation sector
- Raise voice for increased WASH sector budget
- Maintain pressure on the government to fulfil its WASH commitments
- Advocate for the establishment of a sanitation ministry
For the full report and case study on the campaign download the Case Study - WASH Campaign during elections in Pakistan - 2013 and the report: Harnessing Political Will for improved WASH sector in Pakistan