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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. 

World Water Day 2015

This Sunday, March 22 marks the 23rd annual World Water Day. In celebration of the Day, we have rounded up several events taking place around the world and online. Details are included below.

Friday, March 20th

WaterAid SH2Orts 2015 film competition

On Friday, WaterAid will announce the winners of their SH2Orts 2015 film competition, which asked amateur filmmakers to submit short films about what H20 means to them. Up until the announcement, the public can view the shortlisted entries and the film with the most views will receive the People’s Choice award.

Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2015 – New Delhi, India

The 2015 World Water Development Report, “Water for a Sustainable World”, will be launched during the UN’s official celebrations for World Water Day in New Delhi, India.

#WWDHang Twitter Chat: DIGDEEP – 2 pm EDT

In celebration of World Water Day on Sunday, DIGDEEP will be hosting a Twitter chat. To join, use the hashtag #WWDHang.

Sunday, March 22nd

World Water Day 2015 ThunderClap

UN-Water, the organization behind World Water Day, is organizing a ThunderClap, which will blast out a timed message via social media in celebration of the Day. To participate, UN-Water is asking supporters to write on a piece of paper what water is to them using the hashtag #WaterIs, take a selfie or video, and then tag the post with the hashtag and upload it via Facebook, Twitter, Vine, or Instagram. On World Water Day, everyone’s messages will be blasted out simultaneously.

Monday, March 23rd

World Water Day Summit -- United Nations, New York City, 10 am EDT

On Monday, MagneGas Corporation, in partnership with the Jack Brewer Foundation and the U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace, will host a World Water Day Summit. To coincide with this year’s World Water Day theme, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’, this year’s World Water Day Summit will provide a high-level platform for dialogue surrounding sustainable development and global efforts to manage clean water. Featured topics include waste water and irrigation challenges as well as sustainable innovations for water procurement.

Tuesday, March 24

The Role of Water and Sanitation in Achieving the SDGs – United Nations, New York City, 6:30 – 8:30 pm EDT

The Permanent Missions of Sweden and the Republic of Benin to the United Nations will be hosting this evening reception, co-organized by a number of World Water Day partners, including UN-Water, ­WaterAid, and the Stockhom International Water Institute. At the time of this posting, featured participants (tbc) include Yoka Brand, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Dr. Fed Boltz, Managing Director of Ecosystems at the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.

Editor’s Note: This infographic illustrates the interlinkages between water and energy -- the theme of this year’s World Water Day -- and highlights the effects of the increasing demand for both on the global supply of finite freshwater resources. It was created for the World Bank’s Thirsty Energy initiative and originally appeared here. To learn more about the upcoming World Water Day (this Saturday, March 22) and to view a listing of worldwide events, visit UN Water's official web site for the celebration.

Thirsty Energy
World Water Day 2013

“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.

Las Vegas

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.

Editor’s Note: In this post, Susan Davis reflects on the theme of World Water Day water and food security and the implications it has for all of us. Susan is the executive director of Improve International, an organization focused on promoting and facilitating independent evaluations of WASH programs to help the sector improve. She has more than 13 years of experience in international development and has evaluated WASH and other programs in 15 developing countries. A version of this post originally appeared here.

Water for People and Animals; La Guajira, Colombia

Credit: Aguayuda / Sabrina Zimmerman

I was in DC last week for World Water Day celebrations, which focused on this year’s theme Water & Food Security. (The UN celebrated the first World Water Day on March 22 1993, and each year selects a theme highlighting an aspect of freshwater. Read about past themes here.) I took advantage of the beautiful weather to see the early blooming cherry blossoms and visit the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. One of MLK’s quotes from 1964 caught my eye: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”

“Food security exists when all people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life” (1996 World Food Summit). Sadly, 48 years after MLK’s Norway speech, Water and Food Security is still a relevant theme as world headlines continue to warn of drought, malnutrition, famine, and exponentially increasing populations. While one day a year might not seem like enough to make a difference in such enormous problems, World Water Day has become a prompt for governments, foundations, charitable organizations, and individuals to come together at a variety of events around the world to raise awareness, discuss solutions, and make serious commitments.

Many of us drink a glass or two of water with each of our three meals. But how many of us think about the intimate relationship between water and food?

We need a great deal of water to grow and process our food, whether it’s plant or animal. Without water we can’t grow most food sources; and without safe water we can lose many of the vital nutrients from that food. This connection is driving concerns about the world’s food supply, particularly with increasing water scarcity and changing weather patterns, but is especially critical and pressing for people in developing countries. According to the Food Security Information for Action Practical Guides, investment in water is a key part of the strategy for addressing food security problems.

While the water-food connection sounds simple, there are many complicating issues. To understand how to help, we must explore what this means on the individual, community, and global levels.

At the individual level

Nutrition is a delicate issue for many in the developing world, especially children under five. Mothers need these children to hold onto every last calorie. Yet drinking unsafe water can lead to diarrhea, which leads to malnutrition, which can lead to diarrhea, completing the vicious cycle. Eating food contaminated by unwashed hands can also contribute, ironically, to malnutrition. A study by Luby, et al. found that children living in households where food preparers washed their hands with just water before handling food were less likely to have diarrhea than children living in households where food preparers did not wash their hands at all. This suggests that hand-washing, even without using soap, promotes health. The implication for WASH project planning is that hygiene promotion is absolutely critical, with a focus on incremental changes in behavior over time: washing with water is good, washing with soap is even better.

Women and girls are usually tasked with fetching water for their families. The water is heavy, and they may have to walk up to 6 kilometers per day, sometimes in rugged terrains. It’s estimated that, around the world, women and girls spend 200 million hours each day collecting water. Subsistence farmers or others on the edge of food insecurity shouldn’t need to use precious calories just to fetch water. Various studies show the longer it takes to fetch water, the less water people are likely to bring home and consume (see chart). If families have only a very small amount of water, they will often prioritize it for drinking and cooking, not for washing hands or watering gardens. Thus, WASH project planners need to consider the convenience of water points to help stop the cycle of malnutrition.

Chart of Water Collection Amount and Time

Data source: WHO & UNICEF 2005 Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation

At the community level

In my supermarket, I can find fruit and vegetables from many countries, no matter the season. But for people living on less than $2 a day, especially in rural areas, food and water can only be obtained seasonally and locally. This leads to very limited diets, both in quantity and nutritional quality. One of the under-appreciated benefits of a water supply system is that families can use the additional water to maintain small gardens and to hydrate animals. As a result, they gain access to varied food sources, which can improve nutrition and relieve some of the dependence on a single food source. Furthermore, families might be able to supplement their incomes by growing and selling coffee, rice, or meat, which often require water for processing as well. This is why planning for water systems (capacity and distribution) should consider multiple uses of water beyond drinking. (The Multiple Use Water Services Group just published guidelines here.) Using household meters and charging fees based on the amount of water used can both encourage conservation and help identify leaks quickly.

More and more WASH implementing organizations are also thinking about how to help farmers — subsistence and commercial — avoid polluting the water sources they depend on with pesticides. Other efforts are focusing on helping farmers grow more “crop per drop” — for example, iDE’s drip irrigation — or grow drought resistant crops. Watershed protection programs also encourage communities to keep trees and plant new ones to prevent topsoil from going into streams and rivers. To ensure a sufficient and safe source of water over time, WASH project planners should consider including integrated water resource management (IWRM) (like the Global Water Initiative has) or partnering with a group familiar with the practice. According to Steph Ogden (who was the IWRM fellow with Water for People last year), organizations doing IWRM best are small, local organizations based around a watershed (large or small), such as the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization. Steph says, “They’re looking out for water access, environmental sustainability, sanitation, livelihoods of their own neighbors in the watershed region with a real understanding of how they’re all (and all of those components are) connected.” Other resources on the topic include the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), or International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

On the global level

Inexorably, the world’s population is growing. It is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Those people will need to eat food and drink safe water, on the order of 100 percent more globally by 2050. Meat consumption (which uses a great deal of water) is increasing in population-dense countries like China. Besides the 2-4 liters of drinking water per person, it takes 2,000-5,000 liters of water to produce one person’s daily food. “To secure food for everybody, we first need to secure water,” says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. The implications for all of us as individuals might be eating less meat.

Almost half a century after MLK envisioned food security, The Stockholm Statement calls on leadership at all levels of government that will participate at the Rio+20 Summit to commit to achieving “universal provisioning of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and modern energy services by the year 2030″ and to adopt intervening targets to increase efficiency in the management of water, energy, and food. Audacious? You bet! And since we all eat, drink, and use energy, each one of us has a part to play.

For more information and educational materials, see the UN World Water Day site.

World Water Day Events in NY and DC

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.

Washington, D.C.

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)

New York

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.

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