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Editor's Note: In this post, Heloise Greeff, Doctoral Researcher, Water Programme, at the Computational Health Informatics Lab and Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, discusses how we can pro-actively monitor the condition of handpumps and ensure that millions of people can access a reliable water source. This post originally appeared on the REACH program's site, the orginal article can be accessed here.

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Predictive health monitoring is widely used in engineering applications to detect damage to infrastructure as early as possible. Forecasting failure rather than merely detecting failure once it occurs helps to reduce the downtime of systems. Ideally, predictive maintenance can be used to avoid downtime completely. With this approach already widely used in many fields from commercial and military jet engines to patient monitoring in health systems, it is now being extended to monitoring the condition of handpumps in rural villages.

The handpump remains a reliable and low-cost method to access groundwater, making it a critical component of rural water supply for around 200 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Community handpump models, such as the Afridev and India MK II, are designed to lift water from deeper sources than traditional rope and bucket systems which can only be used in shallow wells. However, high water demands result in continuous usage and frequent breakdowns. Unfortunately, practical challenges in the supply of spare parts combined with a lack of local skills and resources result in an estimated 30% of handpumps in Africa not working at any given time.

The use of predictive maintenance in handpumps has the potential to limit interruptions of weeks or more which are common across rural Africa. A broken handpump in a remote village can force women or girls to walk up to 20 kilometres to find alternative sources which may be contaminated or expensive. Reliability and sustainability of water supplies are important to ensure healthy communities, societies, and economies in all regions of the world.

The Oxford University ‘Smart Handpump’ was successfully introduced in 2012. Proof-of-concept for the remote monitoring of handpumps used a simple microprocessor, accelerometer and global system for mobile communications (GSM) components. The Smart Handpumps provide hourly data on usage.

In 2014 a preliminary analysis used high frequency accelerometer data to show that these patterns contain useful information. High-rate waveforms from the accelerometry data can be processed using robust machine learning methods that are sensitive not only to the dynamics of the whole system but also the subtle interaction between the user and the pump. The small changes in pump dynamics and the subtle reactions of the user become a prominent signal in determining the deterioration of pump mechanics and imminent failure. This same signal can also be used for monitoring the level of the shallow aquifer at the pump location.

By retrofitting a simple and inexpensive device to a standard pump handle, the Smart Handpumps are able to pro-actively monitor the condition of handpumps and ensure that millions of people can access a reliable water source.

In February 2016 we visited 33 different handpumps across the Kwale County in southeast Kenya. We recorded 103 different users extracting approximately 5,059 litres of groundwater using the handpumps. These data will be used to produce a low-cost predictive maintenance system that is scalable across large rural regions. The development of a prototype hardware system is being supported by UNICEF, funded through a competitive tender process, as part of their Product Innovation portfolio.  Field testing will be conducted in partnership with UNICEF country programmes in Eastern and Southern Africa.     

By monitoring the heartbeat of thousands of handpumps across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, it is possible to give millions of people access to a reliable and secure water network. The handpump network has existed for many years and despite being neglected remains the most reliable method to access groundwater in remote locations as the world advances to achieving universal drinking water security.

Take a look at the video to see our work in Kwale County in Kenya in action:

 

Editor's Note: In this post, Jan Willem Rosenboom, senior program officer in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses designing and scaling effective sanitation programs. This piece was originally published by Devex, and the full blog post can be accessed here

A school teacher leads a community-led total sanitation activity in Ethiopia.

Photo by: Plan International / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

If you invest even a little bit of your time in keeping on top of developments in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, you will have seen at least some of the blogs, reports and articles reminding us all that the world failed to attain the Millennium Development Goals’ sanitation targets — by a wide margin.

The Sustainable Development Goals give us a second chance to get it right, but they seriously up the ante. Instead of “merely” providing half of the unserved population with access to improved sanitation, as the MDGs required, the SDGs tell us we can only declare success once every person, every school and every health facility has — and uses — safely managed sanitation facilities.

We have 15 years to get it right. Given the below-average results we obtained in the past 15 years, it is clear that we should ask some hard questions and examine the evidence emerging from the field, in the hope we can do much better in the next 15 years.

Pilots never fail, and never scale

Anywhere in the world, if we look hard enough, we can find successful, innovative projects changing people’s lives for the better — and not only in sanitation; this is true for every sector.

The assumption that successful pilots will — by some unexamined magic — lead to sustained scale up efforts is mostly false and, as a result, we seem stuck with repeated small-scale successes, rather than impact at scale. In the past I have labeled this observation “Rosenboom’s law on pilots:” Pilots never fail, and never scale.

Intuitively, this makes some sense. For pilot (or demonstration) projects, we select the most responsive communities, with the most supportive leadership. We use the best front line workers we can find, and there is frequent follow up from the (international) organization supporting the pilot. This is a recipe for success.

Making the transition from pilot to scale, however, changes everything. This requires political buy-in first of all, supplemented by — often limited — program funds. Limited budgets, front line workers with less training and experience, less follow-up, average motivation and support: over time, the conditions for success move from “outstanding” to “average,” and so do the results.

Successfully working at scale means planning for scale from the beginning and understanding better “what works” in program design and implementation. Some of the investments of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s WASH team set out to learn how this could be done.

Continue reading the full blog post on the Devex site.

Editor's Note: In this post Andy Narracott, Deputy Director of Global Safe Water, discusses how we can ensure equitable and sustained access to safe water.

DSW_EvidenceAction_Kenya_StephanieSkinner_06

There has been huge progress made in improving access to safe water. This year, the number of people without access to an improved drinking water source fell below 700 million for the first time in history. This means that more than 6.6 billion people, or 91% of the global population, has an improved drinking water source, up from 76% in 1990. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 427 million people gained access to an improved drinking water source, an average of 47,000 people per day, every day, for the last 25 years.

‘Access to an improved water source’ refers to a water source—such as a well or spring—that, by nature of its construction and when properly used, adequately protects that source from outside contamination, particularly fecal matter.

This might seem like great news, and in many ways it is. But measuring whether people have access to water alone is not enough; it is a static measure that only gives a very high-level indication of progress towards one dimension of what it means for people to have safe water in the home.

This measure does not take into account how sustained this access to safe water is over time. What happens when the hand pump breaks or the new well runs dry?  Measuring a snapshot in time does not account for whether there is access to safe water in the future.

It also does not account for the actual use of safe water systems. Uptake by users of safe water products is notoriously low when it is reported at all. It is also often only measured by unreliable recount. And lastly, measuring access does not say anything about the quality of the water that is actually consumed by users in the home. In fact, there has been no explicit requirement that the water should be drinkable at the point of use.

Imagine a rural and largely poor community in Malawi. Individuals there have to fetch water at water points that can be miles away. This is back-breaking work when you consider that a full ‘jerrican’ weighs the same as the maximum baggage allowance on most airlines. By the time the water is brought home and stored for later use, all it takes is a dirty cup or child's hand to make the water unsafe to drink. Yet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) count this as a success so long as there is a well or other protected source within a certain distance.

Infrastructure, such as a well or a pipe, is not sufficient to ensure sustained access over time, good quality water, and consistent use by the most marginalized communities. Research has shown that increased access alone makes no impact on diarrhea rates, which is the second biggest killer of children under 5.

We think that the new WASH Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more useful. They place an equal focus on a continuous supply of water, of good quality, at an adequate price. Where urban water networks exist, this is an achievable set of goals. But in rural areas, in the home when water sources numbers in the thousands and are widely dispersed?

With technology like Dispensers for Safe Water, this is possible.

Evidence Action has a network of 27,000 chlorine dispensers across 5,500 square miles, in three countries currently serving 4.5 million people. The dispensers were rigorously tested in randomized controlled trials and are served by a robust chlorine distribution and maintenance supply chain that ensures 98% uptime across three countries in even the most rural areas.

Dispensers are salient to users because they are installed directly at the water source. Evidence Action is focused on achieving high levels of usage by making water chlorination the norm through local community promoters. Dispensers are also highly cost-effective compared to other interventions, and they are equitable, targeting communities with the least access to consistently safe water.

Water is central to equitable development, and we welcome this renewed global focus on ‘safe water as a service’ that takes into consideration a sustained supply of water, of good quality, at an adequate price.

Editor's Note: In this post, Charles Nimako, Ghana Country Director at Safe Water Network discusses innovative approaches around financing and partnerships to improve access to sustainable safe water. 

At least 8 million people in Ghana lack reliable access to clean water every day. As the world raises the bar for development with the Sustainable Development Goals, shifting our indicators from number of water points to sustainable access over time, our government recognizes the need for innovative approaches to fill the gap.

Charles Nimako, Country Director, and Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, talk with Hon. Sampson Ahi (MP), Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Water Resources, at the opening session.

Charles Nimako, Country Director, and Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, talk with Hon. Sampson Ahi (MP), Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Water Resources, at the opening session.

Safe Water Network’s recent Beyond the Pipe forum in Accra focused on innovative approaches around financing and partnerships, two key areas Safe Water Network Ghana has prioritized in improving access to sustainable safe water. These topics brought such influential guests as Hon. Sampson Ahi, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ekow Coleman, Senior Investment Officer from the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund and Mr Kwasi Osei, Managing partner of Prizm Capital Partners.

My opening presentation put a spotlight on the Ghana Water Enterprise Trust, a proposed funding mechanism that Safe Water Network will develop with government and private sector stakeholders to address the financing gap for off-grid community water systems, and improve financial stewardship for our increasing portfolio of water Stations and subStations.

The Trust will be developed in two stages – first as a mechanism under which Safe Water Network will continue to own and operate water Stations, under the original Build-Operate-Transfer agreements, and manage them as a portfolio under improved operational oversight; and second as a Trust that will eventually grow into an independent, Ghana-based entity to secure significant amounts of capital with blended sources of financing.

Trust structures, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and pooled funds have been used to attract capital to scale interventions in different sectors around the world.  Our PPP initiative will come to life with a pilot in Danfa, located 20 kilometres outside Ghana’s capital, Accra. This community is a strong candidate for a market-based decentralized service that will expand the existing infrastructure given the relatively high population density; an average per person income of GHS 12 (USD 3) per day; access to grid power; rapid urbanization; and experience in paying for water. I look forward to reporting back on the Danfa pilot, which is scheduled to kick off in Q3 2016.

It will take time to structure the Trust in a robust way, with accounting and control systems that can be audited regularly, and a diverse governing board. The lively discussion among our 80 forum participants highlighted important issues like how  the Trust would affect local ownership and  how the Trust would structure contractual agreements with outside organizations for financial, operational and management responsibilities during the second phase. Participants also discussed how Safe Water Network would manage its brand, H2OME, under the Trust.

Safe Water Network and its advisors and partners will work through these issues over the next year. Each forum builds on the previous year’s discussions, but of course the lessons come from the practical, hands-on work we do all year round. The issues we address are focused on Ghana but general lessons are applicable elsewhere, such as India where Safe Water Network has just launched its 126th iJal water Station.

We’ve been hosting the forum in Ghana for four straight years, and it continues to grow as a leading platform for the market-based approach for community water supply. This year’s Forum was a timely event, taking place just a few days ahead of World Water Day, which this year celebrated the impact of water on jobs and livelihoods. Water solutions that work are essential to all livelihoods — restaurant owner, farmer, schoolteacher and doctor alike – and we celebrate the power of these solutions every day.

We look forward to celebrating the power of water that works throughout the year. In August, we will host a session at Stockholm International Water Week on practical solutions for small water enterprises in India, showcasing tools that allow a broad range of stakeholders, from entrepreneurs to government, do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

If you’d like to connect with us on how to get involved, please contact Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, Program Manager. 

Editor's Note: In this post, Brian Banks, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Global Water Challenge at the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, discusses five key ways that funders can use the new Water Point Data Exchange to improve the impact of their WASH investments.

WDPx

With the recent launch of the new web platform for the Water Point Data Exchange, many funders are wondering what this means for them and how they can use it to increase the impact of WASH investments. For those who aren’t yet familiar, the Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) is the global framework for sharing water point data. Launched in May 2015, this framework is based on the information that is already being collected around the world, ensuring that there is no additional burden on data providers to share information. To date, WPDx has brought together nearly 250,000 records around the world spanning almost 100 years of investment. The new web platform makes it easier than ever for funders to access this data and use the information to improve the impact of their investments. Here are five ways you can start to use the new WPDx platform today:

  • Identify partners and local experts
    • By using WPDx to find who else has implemented projects in a certain area or country, you can easily identify partners for collaboration. This can help to avoid duplication and increase impact through partnerships that leverage the unique skills of different stakeholders. Information on who is working where can also be filtered by date so that you can identify what stakeholders have developed expertise over time in a specific location, or even those that were there in the past. Connecting with these partners can facilitate the sharing of lessons and challenges, allowing your funding to build off of the investments that have come before. You can see an example of the different groups that have shared data over time for Tanzania here.
       
  • Explore the sustainability of different types of investments
    • WPDx allows you to see what types of investments have worked well, and what types of investments have been less successful. This could even be as simple as comparing how well different types of technologies have provided water over time in a certain area. You can also use the WPDx data as a starting point, and compare the impact of different types of policies on sustainability, or even the durability of investments in areas with different geological and socioeconomic conditions. The recent integration of WPDx data into the World Bank’s “Spatial Agent” application allows you to easily and beautifully layer WPDx data directly onto thousands of different data sets. This makes it possible to draw an incredible wealth of lessons about what works well at the click of a button. You can download Spatial Agent here.
       
  • See where needs are the greatest
    • Through the data available in WPDx, funders can target investments to where the needs are greatest and define the type of investment that might be most effective. Does the region you want to fund have a low functionality rate? If so, perhaps your investment will go further by supporting governance, asset management, and maintenance capacity than it would drilling another borehole. Are almost all water points working in a certain area? That might suggest that additional hardware could achieve a lasting impact. You can see a breakdown of functionality by province in Afghanistan here.
       
  • Share your data (and track it)
    • Funders are making massive investments in water infrastructure. While those investments will certainly create change on their own, sharing the information about that infrastructure can allow for an even greater impact. By providing governments, NGOs, researchers, and other funders with information about water points constructed as a result of your investments, all development partners can work better together. Encouraging grantees to share water point data with governments and through WPDx is a quick and cost-effective way to multiply the influence of your funding. As an added benefit, you can subscribe to updates on these water points, and get a notification any time data about them is updated, even from different sources!
       
  • Engage with governments and other stakeholders
    • WPDx should be the start of a conversation, not the end. Discuss the information you got from WPDx with governments, service providers, NGOs, and other funders, and get their perspectives. Ultimately, WPDx is most effective when used as part of a broader engagement with all partners. 

This post originally appeared on Philanthropy News Digest. You can find the original article here.

The IKEA Foundation has announced a €12.4 million ($13.9 million) grant to Water.org in support of efforts to provide access to safe water and sanitation to a million people in India and Indonesia.

Announced on World Water Day, the grant will enable Water.org to significantly scale its WaterCredit program, which helps families secure small, affordable loans that are then used to access safe water and sanitation facilities. To that end, Water.org partners with microfinance institutions, which provide loans to individuals or families so they can install a water connection or toilet and then makes additional loans with the repaid funds. As of June 2015, the program had helped more than 2.6 million people in nine countries gain access to safe water and sanitation. The IKEA Foundation launched its partnership with Water.org in 2013 in Bangladesh.

"By supporting the development of game-changing approaches like WaterCredit, the IKEA Foundation is helping drive the critical innovation needed to end the water and sanitation crisis," said Water.org co-founder and CEO Gary White.

"IKEA Foundation believes that every child deserves a healthy start in life," said IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes, "so we are supporting Water.org's innovative program to help families in Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia access safe water and better sanitation facilities, giving them improved health and a life of dignity."

"IKEA Foundation Announces New Grant to Water.org on World Water Day." IKEA Foundation Press Release 03/22/2016.
"IKEA Foundation Commits $13.9M to Expand WaterCredit." Water.org Press Release03/22/2016.

Editor's Note: How can we assess the impact of a WASH investment? In this post, Guy Norman, Head of Evaluation, Research and Learning at Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), gives us a snapshot of the findings from their recent pilot analysis of the impact of WSUP’s work in Madagascar.

Providing improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to a community doesn’t just have an impact on health, it can be expected to have multiple positive impacts, including creation of livelihoods. For a slum-dweller, employment and a steady income are life-changing things! And jobs created are likely to have a ripple effect in the local economy—more jobs mean more money circulating around the community.

But assessing the total impacts of a WASH investment by an organisation like Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is far from straightforward. For example, we would expect an improved water supply to have positive impacts on a wide range of things including health, livelihoods, time required to collect water, local environmental quality, the water utility’s revenues, and indeed the national economy. What’s more, a given investment may also have negative impacts; for example, an improved water kiosk may reduce the profits of an existing water supplier. So any assessment of total impact needs to consider a wide range of potential impacts, and needs to “subtract” possible negative impacts from the positive impacts.

Moving towards achieving this, WSUP has recently contracted PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to pilot their Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) framework in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. TIMM is a framework for doing precisely this type of analysis.

More detailed findings of this pilot analysis will be published soon, and this blog gives a “sneak peek” at findings around the impact of WSUP’s work in Antananarivo on employment.

The Antananarivo pilot of the TIMM approach

The pilot focused on a subset of WSUP’s activities in Antananarivo over the period 2012−2015:

1. Water kiosks and laundry blocks: support for construction, including creation of management arrangements;

2. Setting up small community-based organisations (known as RF2s) for street cleaning and drain clearance;

3. Helping the water utility (JIRAMA) reduce its levels of non-revenue water (NRW) (i.e. water for which no payment is received, either because it physically leaks from pipes or because it’s supplied but not paid for, as a result of inefficient billing for example)

Very briefly, the TIMM approach, as applied here, involved first generating a model of the impact pathways. This included many boxes and arrows (WSUP investments in boxes on the left, outcomes in boxes on the right, many intermediate boxes in the middle, and lots of “causality” arrows linking everything together). Data to “calculate” the model comprised existing WSUP data on project outcomes, including householder survey data, some limited additional data collection, and international data derived from a literature review.

Overall findings

The estimated net impacts of WSUP’s investments in the three activities indicated above are shown in the wheel schematic below. Each impact has been converted to a monetised value, but this in no sense implies that people’s lives are just about profit and loss! Rather, an analysis of this type requires a common unit of measurement of different types of impact, and a convenient unit is U.S. dollars. Note the dramatic health impacts (interesting, because previous analyses of this type have often suggested that WASH interventions have more of an impact on time savings than they do on health). Note also some negative impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (garbage rotting on the streets produces less methane than garbage in a landfill). But as noted at the end of this blog, we ask you to take these results as preliminary; these findings may be a good indication of reality, but PwC, WSUP and others are still assessing to what extent we can consider these results to be accurate.

TIMM-consolidated-results-across-kiosks-RF2s-and-NRW-(2)

Job creation findings

WSUP-supported water kiosks and laundry blocks need builders to construct them and attendants to staff them; both also provide self-employment opportunities for laundry washers (almost exclusively women). The TIMM analysis indicated that kiosks and laundry blocks not only generate direct employment, but also create work opportunities for suppliers; much of this money is then spent in the local community on goods and services, supporting more jobs. The construction sector gets a demand boost, and the new connections between kiosks and the water network also increases profits and wages for those working at the water utility. Water resellers, who buy water in bulk from WSUP’s kiosks and then sell it door-to-door at a mark-up, are estimated to now have an annual income of around 300,000-480,000 Malagasy ariary.

RF2 teams sweep the streets and empty bins, and each team employs around eight people. These are self-sustaining organisations financed by user tariffs and local government support. The RF2 impact on livelihoods is estimated at almost US $1.5 million, and the spending of those wages generates an additional US $0.4 million of indirect economic benefit.

In order to help the water utility to reduce its level of non-revenue water, WSUP provided the initial funds for a team dedicated to NRW reduction and technical training. Not only did this create jobs within the utility, but the wages that they were paid are projected to have had wider economic effects within the city. WSUP’s work with the water utility led to an estimated increase in profits and wages of US $2 million, with wider economic benefits totalling approximately US $157,000.

The TIMM results show that livelihood impacts make up more than 13% of the total net impact of the WSUP projects analysed. This should have long-term positive effects; the total livelihoods impact for women and men across all interventions from 2013 to 2025 is worth approximately US $3.6 million and US $2.3 million, respectively. Laundry workers (who are 95% female) are the highest earners, and are projected to generate US $2.8 million in additional earnings by 2025.

Particular impacts on women’s livelihoods

Madagascar ranks somewhere in the middle of the global Social Institutions & Gender Index, and while women make up nearly half of the work force they are paid less and hold a lower proportion of skilled and managerial jobs compared to men. 

This TIMM analysis indicates that about 70% of the total earnings from WSUP water kiosks and laundry blocks go to women. Each laundry washer earns an estimated 8,000 Malagasy ariary per day (around $490 per year), which is about three times more than before the laundry blocks were built. More earnings for women is socially relevant as women are more likely to invest their earnings in education, nutrition, and health than men.

And finally, a cautionary note

This has been a pilot application of the TIMM approach, based on careful analysis of likely impact pathways, careful collation of relevant data, and reasoned assumptions about likely magnitudes of effect along each of the impact pathways that we examined. But this is complex modelling, the input data is certainly not perfect, and the assumptions about magnitudes of effect are just that, best-estimate assumptions. Modelling of this type can generate very useful information for an organisation like WSUP, but at this stage the jury is still out on whether the current results are sufficiently reliable, and whether the data collection requirements for this type of analysis are manageable. We’ll be releasing more detailed publications soon, so if you’re interested please watch out for them.

Thanks to the PwC team led by Tom Beagent for this excellent work and to WSUP’s Rosie Renouf for help with the analysis underlying this blog, as well as to WSUP’s supporters DFID, TCCAF, and the Stone Family Foundation for their role in this project. 

Credit: International Women's Day

Credit: International Women's Day

March 8 marks International Women's Day (IWD), a day that, for those of us working in the WASH sector, lends a chance to highlight the role women play in global water and sanitation issues. As Libby Plumb noted in her IWD 2012 post, "women bear the brunt of water collection, suffer the most from lack of sanitation access and the resulting indignities, and, as primary caregivers, are impacted the most when children fall sick with water-related diseases."

This year, we're looking back at some of our favorite WASH resources focused on women and girls. For more information about International Women's Day and related resources and events, go to internationalwomensday.com. If you're on Twitter, be sure to follow #IWD2016 for news and updates throughout the day.

For Her It's the Big Issue: Putting Women at the Centre of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene

This report is a collection of evidence, brief examples highlighting the effect and benefits of placing women at the core of planning, implementation and operations of WASH programs. The experiences also show how women's empowerment and the improvement of water supply, sanitation facilities and hygiene practice are inextricably linked.

Women, WASH, and the Water for Life Decade

From childbirth to education to domestic responsibilities to dignity and safety, access to water and sanitation affect women and girls more than men and boys. This report details recommendations for policy and global practice that will empower women and water-related projects.

Eliminating Discrimination and Inequalities in Access to Water and Sanitation

This policy brief aims to provide guidance on non-discrimination and equality in the context of access to drinking water and sanitation, with a particular focus on women and girls. It also informs readers on the duty of States and responsibilities of non-State actors.

The Case for Menstrual Health

Menstruation is a natural and routine part of life for healthy girls and women, but in many parts of the world, it is accompanied by shame and fear. Cultural taboos about menstruation and perceptions that women are unclean when they have their periods are barriers to open discussion and societal support. Without education from parents and teachers, girls often begin menarche in isolation, without any understanding of what is happening to their bodies. Fortunately, there is a growing global movement to address these gaps. With increased support, these efforts have the potential to unlock tremendous health and opportunity for girls, women, and communities around the globe.

Water for Women

This report looks at water through the eyes of women, exploring the impacts and potential solutions that enable women to reclaim their time, as well as the roles that water can play in improving women's lives.

neil_jeffery_web

Editor's Note: What do we mean when we talk about effective collaboration? In this post, Neil Jeffery, CEO of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), discusses how WSUP uses collaboration as a lens to frame its work and define its role in the broader sector. 

In discussions around how the SDG targets for water and sanitation can be achieved, ‘collaboration’ is often cited as the key: collaboration between the public and private sectors; between NGOs based in the same country; between local service providers and international NGOs; between national governments and multilateral finance institutions; even between funders. And of course this is absolutely correct. The WASH space is constantly evolving, with actors of all shapes and sizes striving to make a contribution: unless these actors proactively coordinate their activities, much of their effort will go to waste.

In WSUP’s view, effective collaboration begins with every organisation understanding their role in the wider WASH ecosystem. What exactly will be your contribution, and what implications does that have for who you choose to collaborate with? How can you structure your activities to achieve maximum impact within your sphere your influence? These are questions that require constant reflection, and in this blog we set out some of WSUP’s thinking on the role that agile and highly specialised WASH organisations can play within the wider sector.

Step one: demonstrate what works

Our organization - Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) – was established to address a specific and growing aspect of the global WASH challenge. The urbanization of developing countries is a leading global trend, with more and more people projected to migrate to urban centers in coming decades. Many of these people have no choice but to move into low-income settlements: since 1990, the number of people living in slum settlements worldwide has increased from 650 million to 863 million. Access to safe water and improved sanitation is failing to keep pace with this explosive growth, and urban WASH service providers are – understandably – struggling to keep up.

WSUP’s contribution begins by forming close partnerships with local service providers and offering technical assistance to help bridge the capacity gap. Take water supply: many urban water utilities are motivated to extend services to low-income areas of the city, but lack knowledge, expertise and support in taking the required steps. Low-income communities have unique characteristics and water supply to these areas can’t be approached in the same way as for the rest of the city. WSUP aims to demonstrate the range of options that are available for a utility in extending services to these areas, encompassing both technological innovations (for example, pre-paid water meters) and innovative organisational and contractual models (for example, setting up a dedicated unit within the utility with responsibility for serving low-income areas, or delegating water supply to these areas to a small-scale private operator). Many utilities will either not be aware of these innovative service delivery models, or will lack the knowledge to implement them effectively. Doing so can have an enormous impact both on the lives of low-income consumers and on the commercial viability of the utility.

In sanitation the capacity gap is arguably even greater: organisations like WSUP have a vital role to play in demonstrating the menu of services required to achieve improved sanitation at scale in low-income urban environments, ranging from improved sanitation facilities (e.g. communal sanitation blocks, as implemented by WSUP and the municipality, CMM, in Maputo) to the provision of complete faecal sludge management (FSM) systems to safely empty, treat and dispose of faecal waste. One example is the FSM service recently established by WSUP and Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) in the low-income areas of Kanyama and Chazanga – one of the first safe FSM systems to be introduced in Africa that is targeted at and funded by low-income customers.

Step two: take it to scale

We all know that when it comes to providing sustainable water and sanitation solutions, ‘taking it to scale’ is the most challenging part. This is where an organisation like WSUP must at all times remain cognisant of its unique and special role within the wider ecosystem. WSUP is not positioned to directly roll-out service delivery models to millions of low-income consumers. Our role is to demonstrate what is possible at a representative scale within a city, then to target and enable those institutions with A) the mandate and B) the capital to facilitate pro-poor service improvements at the citywide and ultimately the national level. Of course, that means working closely with local businesses and mandated service providers, but it also means working alongside multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank, to bring money into the sector and to improve the targeting of investment.

As WSUP has matured as an organisation, we have understood ever more clearly our place in the wider ecosystem, and the ways in which we can maximise the impact of our activities on the lives of low-income consumers. We believe the improved targeting of IFI investment is a critical component of the urban WASH jigsaw. About US$5 billion is committed annually by the major development banks for urban water and sanitation projects across the world – the majority of which aims to improve access for all citizens of towns and cities - but the reality is that the poorest consumers often don’t benefit. Highly specialised organisations like WSUP have a real contribution to make in supporting the World Bank - and other major funders - to demonstrate ways in which such investments can be designed and delivered which are both commercially viable and pro-poor.

WSUP is already having a significant impact in the area of influencing investment. One example is our partnership with JIRAMA, the national water utility in Madagascar. WSUP has supported JIRAMA in developing a Non-revenue water (NRW) reduction programme in Antananarivo, which has helped strengthen the utility’s revenue generation to the extent that the programme is now being scaled-up to the national level. In addition, the World Bank has seen the impact of JIRAMA’s efforts to extend the water network to low-income urban communities through kiosk connections in Antananarivo, and is now supporting scale-up of the model in a second city, Toliara.

We all have a role to play in coming years as the push towards universal water and sanitation coverage continues. Yes collaboration is key, but we must each begin with a critical analysis of our own offering. We must think laterally and understand the nature of our linkages to other actors in the sector. As an organisation, WSUP is very different to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, or to the World Bank – but together we can have quite an impact.

Plan International USA and the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have released new findings and results about rural sanitation behavior change processes using the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. Entitled CLTS Learning Series: Lessons from CLTS Implementation in Seven Countries, the research report identifies implications for practice and delivers policy recommendations based on a rigorous review of seven country case studies and their approach to CLTS implementation.

Covering experiences from Haiti, Uganda, Niger, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal, and Indonesia, long-form, individual country reports are complemented by a meta-analysis of all case studies, as well as a shorter, executive summary style briefing paper for rapid review.

The reports present common features to CLTS implementation, identifies consistent bottlenecks and enabling conditions, and shares lessons relevant to scaling-up CLTS. 

Copies of all reports from this work are available at the project website: https://waterinstitute.unc.edu/clts/

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