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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.

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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/

Editor's Note: A new report from the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program finds that meeting global WASH goals will require not only additional public funding, but also improved resource allocation and service efficiency. In this post, Guy Hutton shares key findings from the report along with some next steps. You can find the original post here

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When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were signed, a commitment was made to deliver improved water and sanitation to half the unserved population. This ambitious target was met for water but not for sanitation, with 2.4 billion people still lacking improved sanitation in 2015. The first part of our new study, The Costs of Meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Targets on Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, estimates the cost of finishing what was started as part of the MDG target.

The study found that globally current levels of financing are likely to cover the capital costs of achieving universal basic WASH by 2030. The global capital costs amount to $28.4 billion per year (range: $13.8 to $46.7 billion). However, despite this good news, the current allocations need to be redirected and there will need to be significantly greater spending on sanitation (accounting for 69% of the cost of basic universal WASH) and operations and maintenance, as well as in the most off-track countries which are mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

But this isn’t the full story.

Even while the MDG sanitation target was not met a new global target was set, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The targets and proposed indicators within the water goal (6.1 and 6.2) talk about ‘safely managed’ services, which includes continuously-available, on-plot water supply and an improved service chain to ensure safely managed fecal waste. When these additional services are costed, they amount to approximately $87 billion per year (range: $61 to $123 billion). Then, we needed to add the basic sanitation and hygiene cost, as well as part of the basic water cost (as many households will not go direct to safely managed water). This takes the cost of achieving targets 6.1 and 6.2 to about $114 billion per year (range: $74 to $116 billion). At 0.39% of the sum of gross domestic product (GDP) of the 140 included countries (range: 0.26 to 0.55%), $114 billion per year requires an additional 0.27% of global GDP spent on WASH, hence requiring massive additional in-flows of financing to the sector.

As these funds are unlikely to be met in any major way from traditional bi- or multilateral aid, it is likely that the investments need to be met from the growing tax revenues of developing country governments and from the private sector recognizing the business potential in the long-term provision of WASH services.

And perhaps, this is the most important part of the story.

Sustained universal coverage requires more than capital inflows: financial and institutional strengthening will be needed to ensure that capital investments translate into effective service delivery.

Tariff policies will need to be strengthened but affordability will remain a critical issue, especially in low-income countries and communities where even the operational costs of basic WASH can add up to more than 5% of the poverty income levels.

Understanding costs is an important part of planning and implementing services to reach universal coverage, but financing should be viewed as part of a broader strengthening of the services system that includes development of technology, private suppliers and providers, policy reform, institutional strengthening, regulation and improved monitoring and evaluation. Financing needs to be planned for operational costs, as well as the capital cost numbers presented above.

What next?

Of course, some of the estimates presented here are at best back-of-the-envelope calculations, as there are so many unknowns such as current service levels and underlying cost data are at times weak. However, the results of this study provide some hard-to-ignore findings such as where the majority of costs (and challenges) are likely to occur, and they provide a basis for discussing global, regional and national priorities. The study provides an approximate global number on the costs of meeting two of the 169 targets, which should be compared with the costs and financing for achieving the other SDG targets, thus enabling an overall prioritization of the development agenda, such as has already been started by theCopenhagen Consensus Center, an exercise which was also conducted for water and sanitation.

In order to encourage deeper analysis, the underlying worksheets are available online for countries to rework the calculations made in this study based on different input data. However, these superficial assessments should not replace the implementation of detailed investment plans and financing strategies within each country as well as at sub-national level.

Related links:

Press Release: More Money and Better Service Delivery: A Winning Combination for Achieving Drinking Water and Sanitation Targets

Report: The Costs of Meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Targets on Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene 

This study is a collaborative effort by the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and a range of sector partners engaged in the post-2015 process revolving around the new Sustainable Development Goal framework. The task team leader is Guy Hutton, senior economist at the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) at the World Bank, supported by Mili Varughese, WSP operations analyst. In addition, the team consists of Eddy Perez, Jema Sy, Luis Andres, and Chris Walsh. Rifat Hossain (WHO) from the WHO/ UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation conducted the coverage forecasts in 2015 for the baseline. Full acknowledgements are provided in the report.

WASHfunders’ Recommended Reading section has expanded with the recent addition of some new publications. Resources added in the past several months include:

Leave No One Behind: Voices of Women, Adolescent Girls, Elderly, Persons with Disabilities and Sanitation Workforce summarizes the sanitation and hygiene hopes and aspirations of thousands of women and men of different ages and physical ability, across rural and urban areas in eight South Asian countries.

Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Nutrition in Bangladesh: Can Building Toilets Affect Children's Growth? provides a systematic review of the evidence to date, both published and grey literature, on the relationship between water and sanitation and nutrition. 

Building Towards a Future in Which Urban Sanitation Leaves No One Behind analyzes the challenges to improving access to sanitation in towns and cities of the global South.

Sanitation and Child Health in India examines the effects of sanitation coverage and usage on child height for age in a semi-urban setting in Northern India.

New publications are added to WASHfunders’ Knowledge Center on a rolling basis, via IssueLab, a service of Foundation Center. And we accept suggestions! If you’d like us to add a case study, evaluation, white paper, or issue brief that is of interest to those in the social sector working in WASH, please contact us: washfunders@foundationcenter.org.

Editor's Note: In this post, Shauna Curry, CEO of the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), presents five main challenges to achieving global access to safe water and sanitation. This post originally appeared on CAWST's blog. You can find the original post here.

The poor bear the brunt of the burden of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and the link between WASH and health is undeniable. An estimated 842,000 people die each year due to diarrheal disease that could have been prevented by WASH interventions; 361,000 are children under the age of five years old. Health impacts go beyond diarrheal disease: half of global malnutrition and one quarter of stunting in children are due to waterborne diseases like chronic diarrhea and intestinal worms, and diarrhea is responsible for 17% of global disability (PMNCH, 2014).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recently adopted by the United Nations, have sparked a renewed focus on what strategies will be necessary to achieve universal access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2030. This won’t be an easy goal to reach – how we define the challenges will influence our direction and prospects for success.

CAWST sees five main challenges to achieving sustained, universal access to safe water and sanitation:

  • The scale of the need for safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • The variability of water and sanitation problems and consequently the variability of solutions from place to place and from time to time.
  • How to best sustain essential WASH services over the long-term.
  • How to reach people most in need.
  • The integration of water, sanitation and hygiene for health.
Photo Credit: CAWST

Photo Credit: CAWST

Challenge 1:  

The Scale of the Need – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to Half the World’s Population

The sheer scale of the issue is a challenge in itself. It will be no small feat for half the world’s population to gain sustained access to safe water, basic sanitation and good hygiene practices (and to do so in 15 years).

Even critical institutions like health care facilities and schools lack water and sanitation. A study in 54 low- and middle-income countries found that 38% of health care facilities lack access to an improved water source, 19% lack sanitation and 35% do not have water and soap for handwashing (World Health Organization & United Nations’ Children’s Fund, 2015).

The scale of the need will increase, particularly as populations grow, available freshwater is used and contaminated at increasing rates, and the climate changes.

To date, solutions have tended toward infrastructure, implemented by a few organizations. This approach alone has not been successful in reaching everyone, and there aren’t enough local people with the required knowledge and skills to deliver universal, safely-managed WASH by 2030. The current formal systems for training, such as university and vocational programs, are important but will not produce enough WASH practitioners to meet the demand by 2030.

No single solution will result in universal access by 2030. A range of adaptable and scalable solutions are needed to overcome geography, gender and socioeconomic barriers.

Solutions will require many organizations working cohesively to provide smaller-scale, decentralized WASH services, especially at the household level. Those many organizations need support and increased capacity in order to reach unserved populations with sustained WASH services.

Challenge 2:

The Variability of the Problem and Therefore the Solutions

Water and sanitation issues are highly variable from location to location, from season to season and community to community; and people who lack WASH are often living in the most challenging geography and climate.

One-size-fits-all solutions have not worked and cannot be the strategy to scale-up reach. For example, water quality, rainfall and hydrology are site-specific and have important implications on technology selection and siting. Incorrect choices can exacerbate an already poor condition (e.g. digging a simple pit latrine that further contaminates groundwater).

Customized water and sanitation services are needed that capitalize on existing local knowledge of conditions; and local people need to have the capability to make informed choices and be able to respond effectively to changing conditions.

Challenge 3:

Sustaining Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services for the Long-Term

Focus over the past decades has been on water and sanitation infrastructure. This approach is costly in up-front capital, operations and ongoing maintenance. It requires a highly educated, skilled workforce and often doesn’t reach the most marginalized communities, nor address specific contextual challenges.

Sustained operation and maintenance of this infrastructure has been challenging. For example, 30% of water hand-pumps in Africa are not working (RWSN, 2009). The failure of community water and sanitation systems is often a failure of operation and maintenance, rather than a failure of the basic technology.

Addressing this failure requires learning from the successes of those infrastructure that have been used and maintained for many years. At its core, we need to (i) increase skills and knowledge of people to use and maintain the technology and/or service and (ii) select water and sanitation products and services – including household-level solutions – which are affordable to implement, operate and maintain and appropriate to the context.

Challenge 4:

Reaching People Most in Need

Overwhelmingly, it is the poorest who lack better water and sanitation. Virtually the entire poorest 25% of the world’s population does not have piped water and the inequality in coverage between rich and poor is even greater for sanitation than for water (JMP, 2014).

Addressing this challenge requires both supporting those who serve the people most in need and providing water and sanitation solutions that marginalized households can afford over the long-term.

Challenge 5:

Integrating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for Health

Many of the water and sanitation approaches employed to date in international development focus on providing either improved water or improved sanitation or improved hygiene. Global monitoring programs, such as the Joint Monitoring Program of UNICEF and the WHO count access to each of the three separately. Alternatively, organizations have the vision to implement all three and struggle to do so when faced with the realities on the ground.

All three – water, sanitation and hygiene – are intertwined and all three are needed for sustained impact. Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental for healthy homes and broader systemic change.

The question is then how to implement so people have water and sanitation and hygiene for generations? Start with interventions that will be (i) the easiest for households to adopt immediately and for the long-term, and (ii) provide an entry-point for motivating action on other WASH components. Furthermore, longer term commitments are needed that work towards households having all three components: water, sanitation and hygiene.

In Conclusion:

Overcoming Challenges to Reach Everyone by 2030

Addressing these five challenges will go a long way towards achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030. We will reach that goal through many organizations implementing many projects of varying scale, technology and approach.

There are thousands of existing local organizations and government agencies that are best-suited to reach their own populations with safe water and basic sanitation. In the weeks, months and years ahead, alongside these organizations, we need to build capacity, create and sustain demand, provide products and services, monitor for improvement and provide appropriate financing.

In this way, we can collectively achieve sustained services for generations to come.

References:

JMP [Joint Monitoring Programme] (2014). Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2014 Update. WHO Press. Geneva.

PMNCH [The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health] (2014). PMNCH Knowledge Summary #30 Water, sanitation and hygiene – the impact on RMNCH. Available at:www.who.int/pmnch/knowledge/publications/summaries/ks30/en/

Prüss-Ustün, A., Bartram, J., Clasen, T., Colford, J. M., Cumming, O., Curtis, V., et al. (2014). Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 19(8), 894–905. Available at:  http://doi.org/10.1111/tmi.12329

RWSN [Rural Water Supply Network] (2009) Handpump Data 2009. Selected Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, RWSN, St Gallen, Switzerland

WHO [World Health Organization] and UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] (2015) Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities: Status in low- and middle-income countries and way forward. WHO Press. Geneva.

Editor's Note: With the SDGs providing the new goals and targets in international development for the next 15 years, NGOs such as WaterAid have undertaken the task of realigning their global strategies to engage with these new objectives. But how will these new words translate into greater water security, sanitation coverage and hygiene education? In this post, Joseph Benson, Strategic Planning and Performance Intern at WaterAid International, discusses how the NGO’s new 2015-2020 Global Strategy indicates multiple shifts for the organisation moving forward into the Global Goal time frame. 

With the recently created UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) providing the new goals and targets in international development for the next 15 years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as WaterAid have undertaken the task of realigning its global strategies to engage with these new objectives.

WaterAid this year released its 2015-2020 Global Strategy, based around four new aims, giving an interesting insight into how the wishes of the international community trickle down into the multi-scalar work of development organisations. 

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been greatly promoted over recent years within international governance. The later years of the Millennium Development Goals and the preparation for the post-2015 era witnessed a very intense consultation and discussion process by governments, the UN, NGOs and other stakeholders involved in the WASH sector. WASH is now seen as an integral part of international development discourse. Thanks to this intense consultation and the tireless campaigning of WASH advocates, Goal 6 of the Global Goals states:

Photo Credit: UN-DESA

Photo Credit: UN-DESA

But what now? Within this improved environment for WASH promotion and application, how do the organisations involved realign themselves with these new goals and targets? How will these new words translate into greater water security, sanitation coverage and hygiene education?

WaterAid and innovating strategy

A leading campaigner for WASH rights at country, continental and global levels, WaterAid represents an innovative NGO seeking to help those lacking water, sanitation and hygiene. In view of the approaching commitments of the Global Goals, WaterAid created a new Global Strategy in order to parallel their ambitious commitments.

Photo Credit: WaterAid

Photo Credit: WaterAid

 WaterAid will use the 2015-2020 Global Strategy to set out what it wants to achieve in contributing to the ending of WASH poverty, while allowing flexibility for countries to develop their own context-specific strategies. The Global Strategy is being set in the broader context of the Global Goals, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

The image below shows the four new global aims of WaterAid’s new Global Strategy 2009-2015. This second Global Strategy is theorised as a five-year building block strategy with the longer-term goal of 2030 in mind. Released in the same year as the Global Goals, it is a first component of a strategy that will continue in overlapping five-year building blocks as WaterAid’s work continues to evolve.

The Strategy focuses on helping to drive the significant changes necessary to achieve universal access. It marks a shift in emphasis from meeting the needs of individuals to addressing the root causes that prevent access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. WaterAid will therefore work towards the 2030 goal by tackling barriers to the right to safe water and sanitation through service delivery, influencing governments and empowering communities. To ensure that long-term permanent change occurs, the organisation must focus on the poorest and most marginalised, and work with partners. WASH must be made a priority for everyone.

Dissecting the four aims

The four new aims of the 2015-2020 Global Strategy come with a unique set of challenges and opportunities for WaterAid.

The first aim states how inequalities in access and distribution must be reduced – women, people from lower castes and people with disabilities are most likely to be unable to access water. To reduce inequalities in access, WaterAid will need to provide evidence of their underlying causes and provide solutions. This is especially important since SDG 10 seeks to reduce inequality within and among countries and SDG 5 advocates gender equality. WaterAid must therefore work with organisations to promote the rights of marginalised groups, demonstrating gender sensitivity and inclusive designs and approaches.

The second aim seeks to support governments and service providers to strengthen the systems and capabilities required to deliver sustainable WASH services. This sector strengthening has crucial overlaps with SDG 17 which seeks to strengthen the means of WASH service implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. WaterAid will do this by working with partners to develop robust systems to reach out to those who may otherwise miss out.

WaterAid made a concerted effort to use the 2015-2020 Global Strategy to shed light on the often-forgotten element of WASH – hygiene. The new Strategy will improve hygiene behaviour to maximise the benefits of, and drive demand for, better access to water and sanitation. This will be done by working with a range of partners to support and deliver effective behaviour change.

The final aim seeks to integrate WASH within poverty eradication work and water resource and waste management. WaterAid will continue to champion the role of universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and its integration within other sector plans. The mutual benefits this will provide for WaterAid and partners are seen as vital in the creation of strong institutions and the fostering of innovation shown in Goals 9 and 16.

Combining these four aims, the WaterAid 2015-2020 Global Strategy indicates multiple shifts moving forward into the Global Goal timeframe:

  • A new 2030 goal will drive all that is done.
  • Advocacy and influencing will be positioned as the focus of all work.
  • A programmatic approach will integrate service delivery work at district/city/town level, with the human rights based approach to create a strong system of supply and demand.
  • Focus will be on sector strengthening to bring about long-term, sustainable change.
  • Sustainability of WaterAid’s work, and of the WASH sector generally, will be embedded in programme design as is central to the realisation of water and sanitation services that last forever.

Moving forward

WaterAid will look for opportunities to extend its work and presence where it believes it can have the most impact towards achieving its mission. A key aspect in implementing this new Global Strategy will be assessing performance. With a new Performance Assessment Framework currently under construction, WaterAid is electing not to rely on numbers-based performance assessment indicators. Instead, a range of qualitative and quantitative indicators will be assembled to assess impact on marginalised communities and how well development partners have delivered sustainable services at different scales.

WaterAid’s 2015-2020 Global Strategy embodies a range of key shifts, molded by both the redefined UN development goals and the reflexive thinking of the organisation.

The four new aims involve tackling the underlying causes of lack of access to WASH. They include tackling inequalities, with a shift from addressing needs in 2009, to today acknowledging rights exist but aren’t being fulfilled, as well as integrating WASH priorities into other sectors of international development for a cohesive and mutually beneficial approach to poverty eradication.

Encouraging hygiene behaviour change as a key lever for change on top of this, WaterAid’s approach demonstrates how the Global Goals can reinvigorate the strategies of organisations involved in international development. Catering for country flexibility, the 2015-2020 Global Strategy represents the first five-year building block working towards securing access to and and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Editor’s Note: This guest blog post was authored by John Sauer, Senior Technical Advisor for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Population Services International (PSI). In his piece, John outlines ways NGOs can work more effectively work to achieve the WASH benchmarks set by the Sustainable Development Goals. This post was originally featured on Impact, a hub for the latest news and analyses on global health and international development, which is supported by PRI. You can find the original post here.

First the good news: the number of deaths of children under 5 years of age was more than cut in half between 1990 and 2015.

As the global development community transitions from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), impressive stats like these help to buoy our spirits. Which we need, because we all know: there is much work still to be done.

For those of us working in the field of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the benchmarks for improving sanitation and fecal sludge management services for 2.4 billion (or possibly more) people, remain seriously off track. And with the expansion of the MDGs from eight goals to the 17 contained in the SDGs, many actors in differing sectors will have to think creatively about how to meet the need for resources, innovation and collaboration.

For the past 15 years, international NGOs have been at the forefront of ensuring progress on the MDGs, and we should celebrate this. But if we truly want to solve these problems in our lifetimes, we need to do even more. Below I outline three ways in which NGOs can work more effectively in the coming 15 years.

Children in Sindh, Pakistan, play at a water pump in a village near Dadu, in Sindh, Pakistan. Photo Credit: DFID/ Russell Watkins/ Department for International Development

Children in Sindh, Pakistan, play at a water pump in a village near Dadu, in Sindh, Pakistan. Photo Credit: DFID/ Russell Watkins/ Department for International Development

#1. Proactive vs. Reactive Planning to Strengthen Government’s Role

In most countries where NGOs work, governments have a mandate to achieve certain development objectives. This has never been more true since the adoption of the SDGs. These national, city, and district governments are looking for partners now that will stand by them for the long term and help them get there.

The challenge with some donor funding (and there are important exceptions) is that it is restricted to a specific time frame and doesn’t always enable the flexibility NGOs need to be a true long-term partner with governments. When the funding ends, so might that specific relationship with the government. This is not what governments need or want. We know from experience in the sanitation sector in Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore that when governments are dedicated consistently over time to hygiene, cleanliness and public health, achieving total sanitation and hygiene is attainable.

International NGOs need to find ways to be reliable partners to governments without depending on donor funding cycles. This would then empower NGO country offices to make long-term commitments to their local governments so that results are achieved on governments’ and local institutions’ timelines. Collaborating with governments and local institutions without being tied to a particular project, but rather to the long-term vision, could transform the way we work. Positioning ourselves in this way might also mean that local governments would see NGOs as a partner worth hiring themselves.

#2. Engaging the Private Sector

In the past several years we have seen a host of private sector companies (both local and multinational) begin to create specific business units targeted at exploring how to sell products and services to the so-called “base of the pyramid” (BoP) — the poorest socioeconomic class. The business community has at its disposal exponentially more resources compared to traditional development donors, along with the ability to make solutions sustainable by creating a market for their demand and supply.

But there is still a long way to go before these BOP units are mainstreamed in the business world. Donors, governments, and NGOs have an important role to play in influencing and supporting private sector players to shift towards serving these too-long-ignored customer segments.

According to The World Bank Water and Sanitation Program’s 2013 “Tapping the Market” study, national governments should do two things to incentivize the private sector to launch more business activity focused on improving sanitation: 1) invest in market intelligence; 2) invest money in private sector R&D to improve products and services. Unfortunately, evidence is slim that this advice is being followed.

Partnerships like the Shared Value Initiative provide a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of working with private sector companies – both multinational and local – in a new kind of partnership to bring the power of the private sector to bear on the health challenges that NGOs wants to solve. A key part of this work includes doing market development, which can help build the enabling environment for private sector success. Another piece is helping companies define, measure and implement what a “triple bottom line” means for different health areas.

Making shared value happen will—similar to working with local governments—require longer program cycles, as well as identifying and influencing donors to support this work. It is a welcoming sign that some donors are beginning to ask for this type of programming from development partners (particularly those in sanitation).

#3. Bringing It All Together: Collective Impact

Collective impact is deliberate and disciplined framework to bring government, private sector and civil society together to foster social change.  The conditions of successful collective impact are simple enough, but often not all are present and aligned in traditional partnership efforts. These five conditions, as listed on the Collective Impact Forum, are:

  • Common agenda: coming together to collectively define the problem and create a shared vision to solve it;
  • Shared measurement: agreeing to track progress in the same way, which allows for continuous improvement;
  • Mutually reinforcing activities: coordinating collective efforts to maximize the end result;
  • Continuous communications: building trust and relationships among all participants;
  • Strong Backbone: having a team dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group.

Collaboration for impact is considered one of the preconditions for making faster and better progress in development, but no approach has been mainstreamed yet. In the coming years, NGOs should champion and push for collective impact in their work globally. This will not be easy and will require writing collective impact work into proposals as well as identifying new sources of flexible funding whose stewards understand the leverage such work brings.

The development sector is at a crossroads as it figures out how to work differently to realize the SDGs. How will it have to adapt and evolve its practices (if not turn them entirely on their head) to succeed at ending poverty in our life times? It’s clear that many of the pieces of the puzzle (strengthening governments, market development, shared value, collective impact) are on the table already. To create even more transformation in the international development space in the next several years we must learn how to fit them together. 

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