Editor’s Note: This post was authored by Carmen da Silva Wells, programme officer at IRC. In the lead up to the Fifth WASH Sustainability Forum in the Netherlands at the end of this month, Carmen writes about the increasing recognition of the importance of sustainability among actors in the WASH sector. Referencing a mapping of sustainability tools that IRC’s Triple-S project recently undertook, she highlights one of the key findings: that while there are many tools that have been developed to assess and promote sustainability in the WASH sector, work still remains around how these tools are applied. This post originally appeared on IRC’s blog here.
Registration for next week’s Forum in Amsterdam is full, but if you’re in the area, you can add yourself to the waitlist. And if you’ll be attending the conference and are involved in the WASH sector from a philanthropic angle, join the WASH Grantmakers Network at their orientation dinner before the conference on June 29th. Details on how to RSVP can be found here.
Sustainability is a hot topic in the development sector at large. In the water and sanitation sector, there have been a range of events, partnerships and websites dedicated to collectively recognising, understanding and addressing sustainability challenges. In March this year, for example, the Australian WASH sector organised the 'WASH for everyone, everywhere' conference in Brisbane exploring the topic in light of the post-2015 development agenda.
The Amsterdam Forum will be held on June 30 and July 1. It is the fifth in a series of international WASH sustainability events organised by a coalition of organisations. IRC, Aguaconsult, Global Water Challenge and WASH Advocates have been core driving members behind the WASH Sustainability Forum series. This year's event is also supported by UNICEF, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program.
Exploring sustainability tools
According to Harold Lockwood of Aguaconsult, one of the organisations behind the fifth edition, there is a definite shift in mind-sets since the first one in 2010: "There is a collective recognition, as well as growing momentum and support around moving towards a service delivery approach. We seem to be at a tipping point, where discussions initially focused on why we need to focus on sustainability, but are now moving to the 'how to' part of the equation for different actors.”
The 5th WASH Sustainability Forum aims to move donors, civil society and governments towards application of sustainability principles and tools. One of the significant inputs to the event is a study of WASH sustainability tools conducted by Aguaconsult as part of Sustainable Services at Scale, or Triple-S, an IRC-led initiative. A Triple-S Working Paper, 'Mapping of WASH sustainability tools' contains the findings of the mapping, as well as the outcomes of an online survey looking into demand for sustainability tools and a 2-part webinar series.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there for understanding, measuring, or predicting sustainability. The assessment included a review of over 220 tools, and the 25 tools with clear content and methodology for understanding, measuring, or predicting sustainability have been presented as 1-page practical summaries in the Working Paper. Altogether these 25 sustainability tools have been applied 92 times in 52 countries, with most addressing the technical, institutional, and management areas that affect sustainability.
There are also notable gaps, such as tools that can be applied across all stages of the service life-cycle, tools that address sanitation and hygiene interventions and that can be applied to urban or peri-urban areas.
According to Ryan Schweitzer, Claire Grayson and Harold Lockwood, authors of the Working Paper, the emergence of clusters of similar sustainability assessment tools is a positive signal that a new paradigm is emerging in the sector. However, most tools are driven by external development partner organisations. Therefore, one of their key findings is that much more effort needs to be made to align tools with country monitoring systems and sector capacities and to use the data that these tools generate in order to improve services.
This challenge of linking tools with national systems – and indeed showcasing some national government tools – will be one of the core topics at the Forum. Representatives from government, private sector, donors and NGOs will engage in a panel debate to talk about how to improve the application and alignment of tools so that investments in the sector deliver services that last.
This year’s 5th annual WASH Sustainability Forum will take place from June 30 to July 1 at the RAI in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. While previous WASH Sustainability Forums focused on concepts underpinning sustainability, this year’s Forum is oriented around the application of sustainability principles to WASH projects.
To introduce this theme, the WASH Grantmakers Network (WGN), together with Xylem Watermark, will host an orientation dinner in advance of the Forum, on June 29th. The dinner will provide guests with an overview of the Forum and offer tips on making the most of your attendance.
WGN is coordinated by WASH Advocates and is an affinity group for philanthropic organizations focused on WASH issues. To RSVP for this free dinner, contact Ben Mann at bmann@WASHadvocates.org or +1-202-293-4002. Registration for the Forum is also available online here.
“Water cooperation is key to socioeconomic development, poverty eradication, social equity, gender equality and environmental sustainability.” – UN-Water
In celebration of World Water Day on March 22, we have rounded up seven events taking place across the country and online. Details and registration information are below.
Friday, March 22nd
New York (10AM – 5PM EDT)
UN High Level Interactive Dialogue
This event will mark the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. The goal of the dialogue will be to identify water-related issues that will require stronger political support and cooperation from the international community. Potential strategies to overcome these issues will be explored, along with the role that various stakeholders can play. Lessons learned from the last 20 years since the conception of WWD will be shared.
Twitter (12PM – 1:30PM EDT)
#AskAg Twitter Chat: Water and Food Security Nexus
USAID will host a Twitter chat with implementing partners on the water-food security nexus with a focus on irrigation and water management for agriculture. The conversation will feature experts from USAID, IDE, Water For People, WASH Advocates, and JW Strategic Consulting. To participate, use the hashtag #AskAg.
Google+ (1:30PM EDT)
World Water Day Google+ Hangout Celebration
Google for Nonprofits, in partnership with Google+, will host a Google+ hangout to discuss the water crisis and actions that need to be taken to solve it. The conversation will include representatives from WaterAid, charity: water, Water.org, Water For People, and will be moderated by YouTube star Justine Ezarik. Viewers are encouraged to contribute to the conversation via Twitter using the hashtag #WorldWaterDay2013.
Washington, D.C. (1:30PM – 3:30PM EDT)
U.S. Water Partnership Multiple Use Services Workshop
The U.S. Department of State will host a Water Partnership Multiple Use Services (MUS) workshop to encourage the use of the MUS model and explore scaling MUS adoption with implementers, policymakers, and donors. Click here to RSVP.
ONE NIGHT for ONE DROP
ONE DROP, the nonprofit established by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, will present an original production specially created for a one-night-only performance and dedicated to raise awareness and funds for ONE DROP. The event will be filmed and a 90-minute special will be available for online viewing from March 25-31.
Saturday, March 23rd
Los Angeles (8AM PDT)
World Water Day Awareness Raising
Radio Disney, in partnership with Tetra Tech and Drop in the Bucket, will host the 2013 El Segundo Run for Education, a 5K walk/run to raise awareness about the water crisis.
Chicago (1:30PM – 4PM CDT)
Water: The Global Passport
Surge for Water’s second annual youth summit will convene students between the ages of 13 and 17, along with their adult mentors, for an afternoon workshop to educate participants on the challenges that people from Haiti, Cambodia, and India endure in order to access water. In addition, participants will learn about local water sources, water treatment, and water conservation.
How will you be celebrating World Water Day? Leave us a comment below or send a tweet to @WASHfunders.
Attending World Water Week? Join us for a seminar examining the role of U.S. philanthropy in solving the global WASH crisis. Detailed information on the seminar’s theme and structure is below.
Stockholm, Sweden — World Water Week conference venue, room K2
Wednesday, August 29th (9AM – 12:30PM)
Follow @WASHfunders for live tweets at the time of the session
This seminar will describe the unique role of U.S.-based foundations in the WASH sector, particularly how philanthropic capital differs from other funding sources, and how those differences can catalyze further funding, support greater advocacy efforts, and spur innovation. Key topics will include: lessons learned and best practices from funded programs; the role of philanthropy in leveraging resources and working collaboratively to increase funding, sustainability, and effectiveness of programs; and a demonstration of WASHfunders.org. Case studies will be presented by five foundations and their grantees through dialogues about opportunities, successes, and challenges of foundation-funded programs.
09:00 Opening Remarks and Seminar Overview. Mr. Edmund J. Cain, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
09:10 Overview of U.S. Philanthropy. Mr. Brad Smith & Dr. Seema Shah, The Foundation Center
09:30 Foundation Strategies and Grantee Case Studies on Innovation, Advocacy, Learning and Leveraging of Resources in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector — Opportunities, Successes and Challenges. Moderator: Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
- Innovation & Multiple Use Services
Mr. John Thomas, Rockefeller Foundation & Dr. Mary Renwick, Winrock International
Dr. Braimah Apambire, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation & Mr. John Oldfield, WASH Advocates
- Scale & Sustainability
Mr. Louis Boorstin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Mr. Ned Breslin, Water For People
- Learning from Partnerships
Mr. Paul Hicks, Catholic Relief Services & Mr. Peter Lochery, CARE
- Reporting & Transparency/Social Entrepreneurship
Mr. David Rothschild, Skoll Foundation & Mr. Ned Breslin, Water For People
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Reflections from Panelists/Attendees; Conversations/Additional Q&A, Moderator: Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
12:00 Demonstration of WASHfunders.org. Dr. Seema Shah, The Foundation Center
12:20 Conclusions and Way Forward. Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
12:30 Close of Seminar
For the full seminar listing in the World Water Week online programme, click here.
World Water Day on March 22nd is right around the corner and will be marked by several events in New York and Washington D.C. See details and registration information below.
Wednesday, March 21st (8AM – 5PM)
Get Schooled on WASH is a day-long series of learning sessions, ranging from WASH 101 panels for those new to the field to more advanced sessions focusing on sustainability, financing, and partnerships. Each session builds on the one before, but can also be attended as a standalone. Detailed information about each session and registration information can be found here.
Location: World Bank (19th and H Streets, NW)
Thursday, March 22nd (5PM – 7PM)
A Drink to the World: Celebrating Success in Water and Sanitation is an evening celebration in honor of the achievements in the WASH sector. Political and cultural leaders will share personal stories about their work. Speakers will include:
- Greg Allgood, Director of Children’s Safe Water Drinking Program, Proctor & Gamble
- Simon Laari, Catholic Relief Service Ghana
- Peter Lochery, Water Team Director, CARE
- Treana Peake, Fashion Designer, Obakki Foundation
For more information and to RSVP, click here.
Location: Russell Senate Office Building at the Kennedy Caucus Room (Constitution Ave and 1st St, NE)
Friday, March 23rd (9AM – 4:30PM)
Water: The Global Challenge of Our Future is a day-long series of panels featuring academics, members of the private sector, government, the United Nations, and civil society devoted to examining the implications of the WASH crisis in a global context. Keynote speakers will include Forest Whitaker and Alexandra Cousteau.
The event is sponsored by The Melody for Dialogue Among Civilizations Association, in conjunction with NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. For more event and registration information, click here.
Location: New York University’s Center for Global Affairs (15 Barclay Street, 4th Floor)
Planning to attend these or other events on World Water Day? Tweet us about it! Our handle is @WASHfunders and we’d love to hear how you plan to spend World Water Day.