Autodesk is best known as a global leader in 3D design, engineering and construction software. Building on Autodesk’s technical expertise, the Autodesk Foundation supports innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. In 2022, the foundation offered a six-month Tech Lead Development Program for architects, engineers, and designers across Autodesk Foundation’s portfolio — people like Nardos.
Splash is thrilled to receive support from the Autodesk Foundation, and we are so proud of our Construction Supervisor Nardos for her hard work throughout the leadership development program! Hear more about her experience below.
How long have you been at Splash and what is your role?
I have been with Splash for almost three years. I started in January 2020. My role is a construction supervisor, which means at any given time we could have up to 10 contractors working at different school sites, and I am in charge of making sure the work is done on time and at the quality Splash expects. This includes everything from our handwashing stations, drinking stations, filtration units, to toilets and more.
Where did this career path journey start for you?
I have three older brothers, and two of them are engineers. When I got to university, I knew that was what I wanted to study. I first got my degree in civil engineering and then my masters in structural engineering. I started work as a civil engineer but made the change in my career path because I wanted to work with kids and communities and make a difference.
I am from a small town: Fitche in Oromia Village, about one hundred ten kilometers from Addis Ababa. When I was growing up, we only had two taps for the entire school. Imagine, for a school of one thousand kids, only one tap for drinking and one for handwashing. I know how hard that is, and it means so much that I can give back to our community through my work at Splash.
How is it being a woman in such a male-dominated industry?
At Splash, everyone is supportive, and I really appreciate that. Of course, I wish I wasn’t the only female in our infrastructure team. I think women have an interesting perspective to bring to the design of our work and it’s important to have more of those voices in the day-to-day work and in the design process.
Tell me about your experience with the Autodesk Foundation?
Splash has has been working for a long time with Autodesk and the Autodesk Foundation, and it’s been a really great experience. I was nominated to the Tech Lead Development Program — it’s prestigious, only 22 people are selected. I was the only one from Ethiopia, so I was really proud to represent my community. It was a six-month training, and the idea is that people who are in very technical fields of work often don’t get the opportunity to focus on leadership.
The culmination of this was the Autodesk University conference I attended in New Orleans a few weeks ago. There were more than ten thousand people there, and it was truly an amazing experience.
What was the most fun part?
This was my first opportunity to travel outside of Ethiopia — my first time in the States. I was amazed by the roads, the parks, the greenery, and just how nice everyone was. The engineering technology I saw at the conference was really inspiring. It was also great to be surrounded by colleagues from other African counties and to meet people from all over Asia.
What did you learn from this experience with Autodesk?
Two things I would take away from this experience:
1. We need to adopt new technologies for Splash so we can have more efficiency in work. As a country, Ethiopia could benefit from more innovation.
2. I learned so much about leadership: teamwork, communication, listening skills. These are skills that I can now take with me to my day-to-day work in a way that I never thought of before.
Would you recommend the program to others?
Absolutely. As technical people, we don’t always focus on our leadership skills. And this is so important for us to be exposed to. For example, every day we have so many stakeholders to communicate with: contractors, school communities, government sector officials, and internal teams. This leadership training gave me the tools to collaborate and communicate better.
Leading by example is something I learned through this experience. We are serving the community at Splash — but we need to also be leaders. Learning to do both and do it well is something that I now think about in ways I didn’t before.
What’s your hope for the future?
I want my own construction company. There are a lot already in Ethiopia, but I think there are gaps I can fill. I want to focus on water-related issues. So many companies are focused on big cities, but I want to help other communities like where I grew up. I want to help children and those in need.
Since 2017, collaboration with the Autodesk Foundation has enabled Splash to design our first mass-manufactured handwashing and drinking water stations in just one year, produce thousands of handwashing and drinking stations for schools in Kolkata and Addis Ababa, and establish a social enterprise model to scale distribution.
In addition to its catalytic funding and in-kind support like Autodesk software and Autodesk pro bono consulting and interns, Autodesk’s design and engineering expertise have been integral to Splash’s successful design and manufacturing process. Splash’s team members around the globe have had access to the same cutting-edge software and training opportunities that Autodesk’s corporate clients receive, allowing them to complete their work more efficiently and build industry-competitive skills, ultimately helping us reach more people around the world with clean water, better toilets, and improved hygiene environments.
Also posted on WHO departmental news
Upon the launch of the State of the World’s Sanitation report in 2020, WHO along with UNICEF, ESAWAS and BMGF shared a blog entitled “Regulating sanitation services as a public good”. That post outlined the service failures inherent in a household-led retail-based approach to urban sanitation. It made the case that, if goals of inclusion and public health were to be achieved, governments needed to craft and apply regulatory and accountability tools to mandated sanitation authorities and associated service providers. In summary:
However, while the case for sanitation regulation is strong, in practice coherent regulation across the sanitation service chain is often absent or unenforced. In high-, middle- and low-income countries alike, regulators (where they exist) lack autonomy, a clear legal basis for their work, political will, budgets, and data systems required to perform their function effectively. This is particularly universal in non-sewered service contexts.
Changing this norm is complex, but it is necessary, possible, and several countries offer examples. Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Zambia and Brazil are among the countries that offer a range of examples of nascent, mature and constantly evolving approaches to regulating sanitation services from plot through disposal, in formal and informal communities, encompassing economic, service quality, environmental and public health goals. This always involves coordination across multiple government agencies, public service authorities, and private service providers.
In the intervening years, WHO along with partners including ESAWAS, ADERASA and WSUP, have been learning from and supporting countries to identify risk-based priorities for regulation and appropriate regulatory mechanisms (Fig 1) following the sanitation safety planning approach.
Based on this experience, two connected themes have emerged across regions: 1) mandates for the design and implementation of sanitation regulation are unclear and incomplete, and 2) to regulate for public health and inclusivity, clear legal service mandates must be accompanied by revised accountability mechanisms and tools (these issues are explored by ESAWAS in a 2021 series on key functions of Citywide Inclusive Sanitation, available here).
A working paper prepared for the 2022 RegNet meeting affirmed that, while there are exceptions, the mandates of regulated sanitation authorities rarely includes on-site sanitation services or a funded mandate to expand sewered services, particularly in vast informal urban and peri-urban areas. As a result, households without large bore network connections remain effectively beyond the protection of public regulation or public finance, including in parts of the WHO European and North American Regions. In particular, responsibilities for regulating on-site containment standards, emptying services, and sludge disposal are frequently unclear or not executed. Together with the RegNet paper, these issues were explored in the recent World Water Week session Who’s responsible? Sorting out mandates for regulation of sanitation services and ESAWAS Landscape assessment for Africa.
For countries to achieve urban health, social, and economic development goals, they must clarify these goals in service mandates, and define accountability mechanisms, as fundamental first steps towards functional sanitation service sectors. Best-fit regulatory frameworks will vary by context, and every country needs to chart its own path. However, partners like WHO and ESAWAS are collaborating with public sector innovators to capture and share lessons, guidelines and tools with countries choosing to improve sanitation services for all urban households.
The experience of NWASCO, the water and sanitation regulator in Zambia, is an exemplar in a country that is newly taking on this challenge. NWASCO is an autonomous regulator with clear responsibilities for regulating authorities’ economic and service quality performance across the sewered and on-site sanitation chain, who only started formalizing the non-sewered aspects of that responsibility in the past few years. Drawing on experience shared by Peter Mutale and Chola Mbilima (NWASCO) and wider discussions at IWA World Water Congress, Stockholm World Water Week, and the RegNet meeting, the following five steps emerge as potentially instructive for other countries looking to structure and regulate their sanitation sectors based on priority service outcomes :
The above steps, as applied by NWASCO and others, offer a rough roadmap for countries reforming their sanitation sectors. Establishing a functional sanitation regulatory system from one that does not exist, or does not function for large segments of the population, requires a long-term plan for sector transition. Improving the effectiveness of sanitation regulatory systems for public health and inclusivity outcomes requires its own mechanisms and incentives for internal and external regulatory performance assessment and improvement. And the job is never complete. Regulators at the RegNet forum underlined that, as individuals and agencies, regulators are constantly adapting and evolving in the context of ever-changing resource levels, threats, challenges, and directives.
Two critical points remain unaddressed by the steps above. First is the role of the regulator as a leader and as a facilitator of stakeholder learning and coordination for sector reform. This is a role NWASCO has performed notably in Zambia, and which we also see in other countries in Africa and Latin America with autonomous regulatory authorities. The second is the importance of institutionalizing downward accountability mechanisms, through rules around data transparency and citizen review and engagement processes. Such mechanisms are key in keeping regulators informed and accountable to the service consumers and those excluded from public finance and services who they are ultimately working for. Quoting the recent ESAWAS paper: “In the context of clarifying responsibilities, the process of convening stakeholders to develop dialogue, enhance coordination and strengthen information flows is fundamental. Emerging experience suggests that no-one is better positioned to perform this function than a regulator”.
Top image: Pit emptying service in Lusaka, Zambia
This article was originally published on the WHO website.
IRC at the UNC Water and Health Conference: Science, Policy and Practice 2022
While most of the IRC team was gathered in Ghana for the All Systems Go Africa symposium, Melaku and I from the IRC Ethiopia team had the chance to represent IRC at the UNC Water & Health conference 2022. Our main mission was to support the USAID Transform WASH team in disseminating key lessons learned from our market-based sanitation activity implemented in Ethiopia.
Together with colleagues from PSI, we reached a broad and interested audience with a side event on how to catalyze household investment in sanitation through market-based sanitation, a side event about the global supply chain challenge and local manufacturing, a verbal presentation about our sanitation subsidy pilot and a poster summarizing the highlights of Transform WASH.
However, much more happened during the week in Chapel Hill. Thanks to IRC colleagues that engaged with partners in preparation for the event and thanks to our IRC supervisory board member Clarissa Brocklehurst, Melaku and I remained busy throughout the week. Melaku got the chance to bring in the Ethiopian perspective at the opening plenary and to provide closing remarks in a side event on the WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in community settings. We could share some challenges of community management for small piped water schemes in a side event building momentum for WHO’s guidelines for small drinking-water supplies that will be published next year and we could introduce the district WASH master planning approach as an innovation for improved management of rural water supply. Last but not least, Afou from IRC Mali joined us remotely to present a case study in a session on strengthening WASH systems in a fragile context.
Melaku Worku (IRC Ethiopia) and Clarissa Brocklehurst (IRC Supervisory Board) at the opening plenary of the UNC Water & Health conference 2022.
Overall, the UNC was (yet) another wake-up call to accelerate our efforts to reach SDG 6.1 and 6.2 by 2030. Three reports were mentioned throughout the conference: the state of the worlds drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene. These reports provide a concise overview of the current state of WASH, and call on governments to make progress on governance, financing, capacity development, data, and information, and innovation, illustrated by examples of how countries have actually addressed the challenge of providing adequate WASH services. If you are not already aware of these reports: have a look at them right now!
Finally, we would like to appreciate that the UNC conference was very well organized. It is an amazing place for networking (!) and the organisers managed to make the full content available for everyone.
I was given the honour of providing a summary of the action points at the 2022 World Toilet Summit in Nigeria.
Last week I attended the 22nd ever World Toilet Summit, hosted this year in Abuja, Nigeria. The event coincided with World Toilet Day; a UN day dedicated to raising awareness about the 1.7 billion people lacking safe access to sanitation around the world.
The theme of this year’s World Toilet Summit was Sanitation Innovation for Economic Development; many discussions focused on innovative financial instruments and governance models that can be used to attract the private sector, while using sanitation as a lever to trigger job creation and help lift the nation out of poverty.
Fourteen countries participated in the global event, but the focus was on the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign, launched in 2019, reached a new milestone last week with Jigawa State, with an estimated population of 6.8 million people, being the first to be declared ‘open defecation free’.
On 19 November, I had the honour of taking the stage to provide my summary of the emerging Summit Action Points: "To celebrate that today is the 10th ever World Toilet Day, I offer ten action points that I hear coming out of this Summit. These action points speak both to Nigeria, and more so about what we here at the World Toilet Summit might call for in the world."
1. A call for political leadership for sanitation at the highest levels, that is used to rally leadership at all levels
Executive, presentational leadership, like the President of Nigeria’s declaration that water, sanitation and hygiene are in a state of emergency. This is leadership not only from technocrats but heads of states. It is leadership from governors, and leaders from Local Government Areas (LGA), though I haven’t heard from as many local leaders as I would have liked.
Key to success in Nigeria has been the engagement and transformative leadership from the religious and cultural leaders, imams, and more.
Building a movement is not a one-time commitment, especially for something called systems change, something like a revolution. Every phone call that the Honourable Minister has made to his governors, and every phone call, reminder meeting, incentive that LGA leaders and cultural leaders have made—these are the fabric of success.
Often sanitation discussions are held among technocrats, but when the conversation stays there, we can achieve small movements but not the true momentum required for change at the highest level.
We need to invest in building, keeping, and delivering leadership at all levels.
2. A call for use of area-wide approaches
We have seen in Nigeria how the local government area-wide approach, the state-wide approach, and national commitment to a Clean Nigeria, has motivated a movement to leave no one behind. Achieving open defecation free status is powerful, and it is achieved at the village, local government area, and state levels.
I am delighted to be hearing leaders talk about percentages, population-wide numbers that speak to how many people are left to reach. We can no longer afford to hear leaders, responsible for millions of constituents, talking about the 100s or 1000s of facilities they have built. The magnitude of the issue, and the shared nature of sanitation health risks, is better met with area-wide thinking.
As the gentleman from United Purpose said yesterday, an area-wide approach has pushed innovation, not allowing them to skip over the hardest to reach or challenging areas, but pressing their team to innovate, to adapt to find a better way, and to embrace a range of different approaches to meet the diverse needs of a nation.
The area-wide approach is being applied now in Nigeria for achieving the critical first step of eliminating open defecation, and it can be applied again (already) in the movement to be sure that all human waste is safely managed, to be sure the expected health benefits are achieved and to reduce the level of public health crisis that emerges when catastrophes like flooding occur.
3. A call for an economic revolution
Yesterday Dominic O’Neill of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund called for an economic revolution, with both technological and financial model innovations: Blue Bonds, Green Bonds, and tax credits from FMDQ; these are market instruments to fuel the sanitation economy. We can start by packaging projects so that small costs can be met with big investment, including not least by the private sector.
Innovation takes risks. It takes courage to start a revolution, and humility to ask for help and form new alliances. It needs to be okay to ask questions and to learn so that government, and other development actors, can gain financial literacy and learn to speak the language of banks and private sector, to know what they are getting into.
Governments must work to establish incentives, regulation, policy to invite businesses to the market – businesses both big and small. We need to forge new alliances with partners both domestically and abroad, starting with local/regional/development banks.
The African Continental Free Trade Area presents new opportunities, the sanitation sector can be an innovator in finding its way to leveraging this opportunity and deliver on the ambition of this agreement on the continent.
The finance sector in Nigeria is quite mature and has the power to show the world what can be done. We must invest in sanitation as a driver for economic revolution
4. A call to make the sanitation movement people-centred
Even as we start to look at sanitation as a business, citizens and people must be considered as such while meaningfully leading them to be customers in the market.
As the lady from the organisation of female entrepreneurs said yesterday—demand is still too often assumed… as is our knowledge of what it takes to maintain it. The recent WHO TrackFin/WASH Accounts report estimates that households (and businesses/institutions) make the largest contribution to WASH sector funding, in many low-in countries their spending constitutes over half of total national investment. When these households are demonstrating real effective demand—when they have the willingness and ability to pay for services, their buying power to transform the market is unlocked. Of course, the smart citizens of today will only pay if what they receive is worthy of being called a service.
And as Professor Jack Sim said yesterday, let us not forget the power of culture in generating mass citizen movement. When Nollywood actors start to talk about it, or say Mr. Timi Dakolo who we heard from yesterday, starts to talk about how much he loves his loo, we might see more swooners rushing out to buy one.
Take action to engage the people.
5. A call to focus on youth and education
It’s time to take the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and education dialogue to the next level.
We often talk about collaboration to get toilets in schools. And as Bridgit Kurgat from Days for Girls said, to keep girls in schools so they can be educated and given equal opportunity.
And as we’ve seen yesterday, the connection of sanitation to education can go much further – programmes to educate children on sanitation issues, and opportunities to teach about innovation and ambition unlocks a huge resource base of future leaders.
Some teenagers are altruistic, but others just want to make money. So, let’s show them what the sanitation economy can do for them and prepare them to take part in and contribute to it.
The students from Ahmadu Bello University yesterday had us on our feet. What a wave they have created, see how they use numbers to demonstrate their impact and performance, it is admirable, and it is the future. I heard about a lot of prizes from the students of Ahmadu Bello University yesterday, these prize programmes are of negligible cost compared to the pay-out of a successful company like their PUP Industries.
The sanitation sector—public and private—can collaborate to invite and encourage youth to become the leaders in the sanitation economy.
6. A call to use data for accountability
Nigeria has great data, so congratulations to you all for this. Achieving a Clean Nigeria, and a clean world, requires data - quality data we can trust - at the toilet and service and village level, at the level of upstream systems performance data, and not least, budget and finance data to track investments and their use. Data to track their effectiveness.
It is essential to build accountability in the states of Nigeria for their results and use of budgets.
The Jigawa example should be built on and replicated. I know that while there is still work to be done to ensure sustainability, Honourable Governor, you might consider a national tour with your Minister to visit, teach, and share your experiences with the other states. Or bring them to you.
We call for action on data for accountability and pursuit of results.
7. A call for a gender-wise movement and the empowerment of women
I see a lot of gender diversity in this room, and while I’ve met and learned from brilliant women the past few days, and I’ve seen some on this stage, there have been fewer of them compared to men.
I might be biased, but we need to listen to our women.
I am a woman, but I am also a scientist looking at evidence, on studies of what works and how to create higher performing institutions. Having women at the table, not only at the far end, but in the centre of discussions on innovation, and creative partnership building, it will pay back in terms of results.
Women are natural entrepreneurs, this applies in the household, in communities and small businesses, and at the corporate and executive levels. They will catalyse innovation when men step a little to the side, not down, just over, to allow them into the conversation.
This is not to be nice, but because your conversation will be richer because of it. Gender empowerment and sanitation innovation must happen together.
8. A call for systems strengthening—the nuts and bolts of delivering a public service
Innovation, investment, leadership are key. And so is having competent service authorities, providers, and even consumers. The sector institutions must perform to be bankable. The building blocks of making public services work are largely known, and they require investment.
Strong systems mean good policy that is translated into usable legislation, institutions building and decentralised initiatives to help it to be understood and applied. In Nigeria, we heard about the declaration of the state of emergency as a starting point, but it was followed by a national action plan, development of guidelines, tools, and allocation of resources to help build institutional capacity to drive toward results.
Systems strengthening must remain on the investment agenda.
9. A call for dealing with fragility and instability
Systems building is really difficult under the stablest of conditions. In a context of instability, terrorism, economic recession, unrest, and increasing climate-change induced disaster, it is harder than ever. But it can be done.
These threats must be named, discussed, and integrated into the action plans. It is tempting, but much less effective, to lay out a perfect stable state action plan in one discussion, and quietly acknowledge the threats of instability over on the side.
Yesterday we heard about policy moves to ensure that sanitation facilities are climate resilient. It is possible to have policy and legislative mechanisms in place to create more robust infrastructure, but also to more rapidly construct latrines post-collapse.
I haven’t heard the word ‘Loss and Damage’ here yet but exploring the global movement to compensate those suffering from climate catastrophe might be another entry point to engaging the highest level of national leadership to discuss the country’s sanitation needs.
10. Summit action point number 10 is pointing to you, to me, to all of us
We must continue to resist the status quo. When we’ve seen slow progress for far too long, it becomes easy to accept this as the norm.
I found myself saying in a conversation yesterday [about achieving universal sanitation access], maybe it just takes 20 years.
Twenty years is not fast enough. Yes, systems change takes time, a revolution doesn’t happen overnight. But it's quite often achieved through a series of short sprints. We can’t be daunted by the long journey ahead but instead look to the next milestone, to the vision that has been set out, and, as individuals and a collective, to do everything we can to change our ways of working at getting there.
But until then I will repeat Dr. Boluwaji Onabolu’s words, “we must challenge ourselves to pursue speed, scale, and sustainability. In every action that we undertake, in new agreements, negotiations, programme designs; in setting up the next annual plan. Think about what you can do differently. I will think about what I can do differently, to make this vision real. Sanitation innovation for economic development, it happens not only because of the big actions, but also the small everyday ones, of all of us in this room."
At the very end of the Summit, I was delighted to see many of these issues will be well-covered in the upcoming event communiqué (declaration of intent) written and presented by the Ministry of Water Resources.
I look forward to continuing the conversation at the UN Water Conference in March 2023, where we hope to see Nigeria as a leader on the world stage.
I also look forward to the All Systems Connect Symposium, an event dedicated to seeing old problems through a new lens. I believe this event is perfectly aligned with generating the type of momentum and insights required to take the sanitation economic revolution to the next level, by convening experts and activists, decision-makers and influencers from sanitation, water, and hygiene, health, climate, economic development, education, social justice.
I am grateful to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Nigeria, and Dr. Nicholas Igwe of the Organised Private Sector for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH) for the excellent hosting of the World Toilet Summit.
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Integrity Talks are interactive discussions with WIN partners about their challenges and lessons for advancing integrity in the water and sanitation sectors. This is an edited summary of our fourth session on tariffs and inflation. Our next Integrity Talk will take place on November 23, 2022, on technology for anti-corruption in water and sanitation.
Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time. When acute, as is the case today in many regions, it has significant impact on the cost of living and of basic services, including water and sanitation. This is often felt most sharply by the poor, who are led to make drastic choices to secure essential services. Water and sanitation service providers must cover costs and deal with rising prices of operations and maintenance, while maintaining affordable service for all. This has its challenges.
In this Integrity Talk, panellists discussed the impact of inflation in the water and sanitation sectors with a focus on tariff setting, the ways to make water and sanitation services affordable to low-income groups, and the role of integrity in realising the human rights to water and sanitation.
Dick van Ginhoven (WIN), Virginia Roaf (Sanitation and Water for All, SWA) James Cleto Mumbere (Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network, UWASNET), Rajesh K. Advani, (World Bank), Katia Ochoa Trucios (Servicio de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de Lima, SEDAPAL).
Dick van Ginhoven (WIN Supervisory Board):
Some economists attribute the current inflation surge to product shortages resulting from global supply chain problems, largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, the war in Ukraine has increased energy prices worldwide. There are also other fundamental mechanisms triggering inflation and depreciation of local currencies. Inflation can occur when prices rise due to increases in production costs, such as raw materials and wages, or a surge in demand can cause inflation as consumers have/are willing to pay more for products. This might drive increases in, for example, the cost of energy, chemicals, housing upgrades, investment, and water .
Rajesh Advani (World Bank):
Inflation in the water and sanitation sectors can be heightened by poorly allocated funding. Governments are spending $320 billion per year on water and sanitation service subsidies. From that, 56% is captured by the wealthiest populations and only 6% reaches the poorest 20%.
In utility operations, there is a financing gap when costs are higher than funding. In other words, investment, maintenance and operating costs are higher than the available funding which is obtained through tariffs, taxes, and transfers. In periods of high inflation, utilities have to spend more resources to cover the costs of electricity, staff and chemicals, which, in combination with a reduction of public funds, increases the gap.
Rajesh Advani (World Bank):
Low tariffs drive a vicious cycle where the higher the financing gap, the higher the requirement for additional financing. As public funds are usually insufficient, maintenance is neglected, worsening the technical performance of the utility. When water service provision is deficient, customers are not willing to pay, weakening financial performance and requiring more capital to restore the system, increasing again the financing gap.
Katia Ochoa Trucios (SEDAPAL):
Peru has one of the lowest tariffs in Latin America. It is not high enough to cover maintenance costs and extend infrastructure coverage.
“When maintenance costs are not covered, water is not delivered properly, affecting directly people’s supply.”
– Katia Ochoa Trucios (SEDAPAL)
Virgina Roaf (SWA):
While tariffs should be sufficient to cover costs for delivering water and sanitation, human rights require that these services be ‘affordable’ for people with low or no incomes. This also means that services must sometimes be available for free, with the costs covered by the State or through cross-subsidisation.
Nevertheless, just having a human right to water doesn’t mean that water is immediately available and that it is available for free. States need to make sure people understand this. Human rights impose obligations on States to carefully consider how they prioritise their available resources and to demonstrate that they are making adequate plans and committing adequate funds to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy all their human rights, including water and sanitation. Local governments need to know what aspects of the human right to water they still need to work on, for example: participation, transparency, and how to address corruption. Also, local authorities need to engage with the local community.
Inequalities are deepened through poorly managed tariffs and through inflation, as the poorest are least able to withstand the accompanying financial shocks, sending them into deeper poverty. Integrating human rights principles into financial thinking will ultimately improve the lives of the poorest people on this planet.
“The challenge is no longer whether the human rights to water and sanitation exist, but how they are to be implemented.”
– Virginia Roaf (SWA)
James Cleto Mumbere (UWASNET):
In Uganda, there is a legal framework where the tariff system is guided by the Constitution. Several policies clearly outline the key stakeholders in water tariff determination. For example, water utilities make proposals using statutory instruments. Then the responsible minister approves them. The current tariff structure is still hampered by two critical factors: service fees, and VAT (Valued Added Tax), which increase the tariff by about 2% and 18% respectively. Service fees and VAT should be removed from all water tariffs, especially for the poor. Furthermore, it would be important to include pro-poor performance indicators for the utilities at all levels.
“For any effective tariff guideline, collection, and payment modalities, it is important to involve the poor in tariff settings to clearly understand their challenges in accessing water.”
– James Cleto Mumbere, Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)
Katia Ochoa (SEDAPAL):
In the city of Lima, Peru, there is a differentiated tariff according to the types of use (social, domestic, industrial, and state use). The domestic tariff is further differentiated between “beneficiary” and “non-beneficiary”. Lower-income residents are under the beneficiary category and they pay according to their income. This allows for differentiated payment and benefits poor households.
The tariff is established by the regulator with the intention of providing sustainable services, which means, covering the operations and maintenance costs, service delivery, and investment in projects to expand coverage. The regulator establishes the tariff with the objective of limiting negative impact on the population. Nevertheless, challenges remain in tariff setting, mainly because the price set by the regulator does not cover the full operating costs, increasing the financing gap.
Dick van Ginhoven (WIN Supervisory Board):
There is a need for a clear financial position of utilities and governments. In Kenya, for example, around 50% of the water budget is spent on debt servicing, which is increasing because of depreciation. This is never going to be sustainable. We need to look at local markets to finance investment and link that investment with the regulation of tariff indexing. I suggest that existing debt may have to be restructured into local debt.
Rajesh Advani (World Bank):
Corruption happens on two levels. The first one is petty corruption causing issues both in society and utilities. Some initiatives implemented to fight corruption include using technologies, for example, payment by phone.
In Nairobi, there are multiple issues with endemic corruption but they have little tolerance for it. Utilities use technologies and engage with people by holding meetings and conferences in local areas. By encouraging communication with local stakeholders they have had success in increasing access to water and sanitation in informal settlements. There is a need to involve the community to build social capital and weaken corruption.
On the other side, there is grand corruption. When there are corrupt practices in investment planning and contracting, there is a huge impact on both the operational and financial viability of utilities. Even though there are very strict requirements regarding the procurement of all contracts in multilateral agreements, the main question we face is, what are governments doing? What is the track record of investigating and then of prosecution?
Virginia Roaf (SWA):
Tariffs are still too low for people who can afford to pay more. People who can access the service are paying less than people who don’t have access to the service, for example, residents of informal settlements.
Katia Ochoa (SEDAPAL):
Lima faces constant population growth caused mainly by migration of poor or extremely poor people to the city. These people generally benefit from a differentiated tariff and this category has seen an increase of 50% in the number of residents. There is still a deficiency in the methodology for identification of beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the differentiated tariff: it is sometimes inexact and very subjective. We may be supporting people who are not in need, while the provision of water services must be as efficient as possible to be able to provide affordable prices.
James Cleto Mumbere (UWASNET):
I fully support the idea of more local currency financing. But I think for that to happen, utilities need to improve and build creditworthiness to make them attractive targets for the financial sector. Otherwise, banks will not be interested in lending to companies that will not repay their loans. A legal framework that allows more access to private finances is very important, as is the role of regulation.
Inflation has increased the costs of water and sanitation provision and maintenance. In response, a number of water and sanitation service providers have significantly raised tariffs where possible, but not always in a transparent and accountable manner.
The urban poor are more likely to suffer the effects of inflation than higher-income households as they tend to spend a higher share of their income on water and sanitation. With this in mind, a number of water providers and regulators have undertaken significant efforts to mitigate the impact of inflation and secure affordable tariffs. This Integrity Talk highlighted a number of integrity measures used to mitigate inflation and make tariffs affordable: cross-subsidisation, differentiated tariffs, and mobilisation of the human rights to water and sanitation to oblige States to use the maximum available resources for realising human rights. There is still room for improvement in many regions.
This Integrity Talk also underscored the need to take into account depreciation. Many States have taken foreign loans to improve water and sanitation services. With inflation, the debt burden has increased due to local currency depreciation. Debt relief and restructuring, as well as local currency financing are important instruments to consider better support service improvements and ensure adequate and affordable access to water and sanitation for all.
The post How do we deal with inflation and ensure affordable water and sanitation services? appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.
Having access to WASH builds people’s resilience to climate change. This can and must be achieved by enabling improved water security, limiting exposure to water-related risks, and building the capacity to manage the impacts of climate change.
The declaration, supported by 25+ global businesses and 15 WASH expert organisations, demonstrates the alignment, leadership and commitment of the corporate water stewardship community to create the pathways for systemic change, in partnership with water, sanitation and hygiene experts and stakeholders.
The purpose of the “COP27 Business Declaration on Climate Resilient Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)” is to contribute to the advancement of sustainable development goals SDG6 (access to water and sanitation) and SDG13 (action against climate change and its impacts) by 2030, with the goal of enabling millions of people to become more water secure and climate resilient.
Read the declaration below.
Water is the primary medium through which climate change influences the Earth’s ecosystem and thus all economic, social and environmental functions that water supports.
Water-related climate risks arise from too much water, too little water and polluted water. Climate change directly affects the quality and quantity of water supplies, and impacts on the sustainability of sanitation and hygiene behaviors, especially for the most vulnerable.
Unsafe and unreliable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services at home or at work impacts people’s heath, well-being and livelihoods. Water security and climate resilience helps to enable healthy people and communities, business continuity and growth, across operations, supply chains and in the sourcing of raw materials.
In order to be resilient to the challenges that climate change brings, people along corporate value chains and in the communities where they live, need to be water secure.
Water security includes reliable access to sufficient quantities of good quality water, limited exposure and reduced vulnerability to water-related risks, and the capacity to manage the impacts from climate change at home and at work.
Safely managed sanitation, hygiene and water supply reduce exposure to harmful diseases and underpin public health enabling people to better cope with climate change impacts.
Efficient and effective water supply services increase the amount of clean water people have access to in times of scarcity. For example, during extreme climate events. Increased water storage, in harmony with the environment, provides a critical buffer, delivering water when and where it is needed.
Sources: WASH4Work, UNICEF, WaterAid, Water.org and Pacific Institute
The framework for action will include the following considerations:
The purpose of this Declaration is to contribute to the advancement of SDG6 & SDG13 by 2030, with the goal of enabling millions of people to become more water secure and climate resilient.
It demonstrates the leadership and commitment of the corporate water stewardship community to create the pathways for systemic change, in partnership with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) experts and stakeholders.
WASH4Work members and supporters of the Declaration:
APP SINAR MAS
THE COCA-COLA COMPANY
ALLIANCE FOR WATER STEWARDSHIP
CEO WATER MANDATE
GLOBAL WATER CHALLENGE
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION
SANITATION & WATER FOR ALL
TOILET BOARD COALITION
WATER RESILIENCE COALITION
Top image: climate resilient toilet facility, higher than ground level to protect from flooding, in Chattogram, Bangladesh
Most residents in Kenya’s densely packed informal communities lack access to decent sanitation, and the practical and financial challenges of addressing this crisis are well documented. However, new evidence shows that simplified sewer networks, which are much shallower and more flexible than traditional sewer systems, can form part of the solution. This opens up new possibilities for better sanitation which could benefit millions of Kenyans.
Simplified sewers are widely used in South America. They use smaller and more flexible pipes, laid at a shallower depth, making them quicker, easier, and cheaper to lay. They work best in cities which have an existing sewer network of trunk sewers, as is the case in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, allowing for the waste from the new network to travel into the main sewer system – and from there to treatment facilities.
In addition to trunk sewers, there are some other conditions required for simplified sewers to work, such as adequate water supply to support pour-flush toilets and strong community engagement to support operations and maintenance, including solid waste management and disposal.
These conditions were in place during the pilot project, which was a partnership between Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC), Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), and the community in Mukuru. With the financial support of The One Foundation, WSUP laid over 1000m of pipes, constructed 72 inspection chambers and connected 94 households to the sewer system, benefitting over 4,000 individual residents who now have pour-flush toilets. Prior to the intervention, most Mukuru residents relied either on shared pit latrines or pour-flush toilets which channelled waste through open drains to the nearby river.
Customer satisfaction with the improved facilities was found to be high, and many also benefit from reduced prices: residents of Mukuru pay between KES 5-10 for a single use of public latrines (amounting to KES 900 a month for a family of three), compared to KES 20 per month for simplified sewer services, assuming a plot of ten households.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the sanitation challenge in urban slums”, explains WSUP’s Country Manager in Kenya, Eng. Eden Mati. “However, we now have strong evidence that simplified sewers are one of the answers. The prevalence of trunk sewer networks around many of our informal settlements in Kenya provides abundant untapped potential for scale-up of this solution. Further challenges lie ahead, not least in securing the finance for extending the connections and developing appropriate infrastructure for sewage treatment, but I am hopeful these can be overcome.”
Top image: the informal settlement of Mukuru, in Nairobi, Kenya
Recently we participated in the WASH Debate on 9 November 2022, organised by IRC WASH. The WASH Debate discussed the theme ‘Levering Household investments, Experiences in scaling market-based approached in water and sanitation.
As part of the Debate, Kerstin Danert presented on the outcomes of the recent assessment of the SMART Approach by IRC WASH (click here for the report).
The full recording of the session is available on youtube.
The panel discussion starts from 55:22
How government, development partners and private businesses can successfully implement market-based sanitation.
Credit: PSI/USAID Transform WASH project
This blog is co-authored by Lars Osterwalder, IRC Associate and Monte Achenbach, Chief of Party, USAID Transform WASH | PSI Ethiopia
The world is off-track to reach universal access to safely managed sanitation by 2030. Still, we have almost 10 years to change the trajectory. Bill Gates is credited with the saying, “People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.” We think that this is very true. For instance, while ending open defecation in Ethiopia is an impossible task to be achieved within one year, tremendous achievements have been seen over the past decade, when open defecation dropped from 47% (in 2010) to 17% (in 2020). These numbers give us hope that ending open defecation in Ethiopia is realistic over the next 5 to 10 years!
While generally successful at reducing open defecation, the community-led total sanitation approach applied broadly in Ethiopia over the past decade did not trigger the construction of improved sanitation facilities. Most Ethiopian households constructed pit latrines using locally available materials such as wood, mud and stones. These “traditional” latrines are not considered to be “improved” according to the definition of the WHO/UNICEF JMP definitions because they are neither cleanable nor durable. To reach a level of sanitation service that has greater impact on health, households need access to a broader range of affordable, quality products and services to upgrade their latrines – and we believe that the private sector, with government creating a strong enabling environment, is the most effective, sustainable option to deliver these products and services!
In countries like Ethiopia, where private businesses are scarcely engaged in the sanitation sector, government and development partners can play a role in strengthening the private sector by implementing ‘market-based sanitation’ programs. ‘Sanitation market development’ is a term that is used interchangeably with ‘market-based sanitation.’ ‘Sanitation marketing’ or ‘SanMark’ is a component of market-based sanitation that focuses on the specific activities of businesses offering sanitation products and services, while market-based sanitation refers more broadly to strengthening the enabling environment and facilitating greater supply and demand for market growth.
In a special issue of Amplify newsletter we share key outputs of a market-based sanitation activity implemented in Ethiopia: USAID Transform WASH (2017 to 2023) a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, IRC WASH, and, through 2022, Plan International. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water and Energy, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.
Please take your time to learn about an exciting door-to-door sales approach and how stakeholder coordination can be strengthened. Learn about how we think universal sanitation access can be reached in Ethiopia and have a look at the national sanitation subsidy protocol developed to provide guidance on smart and targeted subsidies to reach the poorest. Watch below our animations, which highlight some key findings that you should consider when implementing a market-based sanitation intervention yourself. Finally, please ask your colleagues and staff members who are new to market-based sanitation to reserve two days and take our introductory course, Market-Based Sanitation – The Basics.
Building on the lessons learned from USAID Transform WASH and the commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to institutionalize market-based sanitation as a key approach to improve the quality of toilets, we are hopeful to seeing an increase of households using at least basic sanitation services - small annual increases that lead to a huge increase over the next decade!
WASH Systems Academy: Safe sanitation for everyone - where to start
WASH Systems Academy: Practical lasting solutions to sanitation
WASH Systems Academy: How to create a sustainable sanitation business
USAID Transform WASH aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes in Ethiopia by increasing market access to and sustained use of a broader spectrum of affordable WASH products and services, with a substantial focus on sanitation.
Transform WASH achieves this by transforming the market for low-cost quality WASH products and services: stimulating demand at the community level, strengthening supply chains, and improving the enabling environment for a vibrant private market.
USAID Transform WASH is a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, Plan International, and IRC WASH. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.
Ethiopia has launched a national hand hygiene road map as well as a food and personal hygiene protocol for the school feeding programme.
In Ethiopia, 92% of the population, 42% of health care institutions, 50.7% of primary schools, and 35.7% of secondary schools lack access to basic handwashing facilities with a water supply and soap (JMP and, 2019; ESAA, 2020/21). This has resulted in the death of 70,000 children under five each year as a result of diarrhoeal diseases. To tackle this problem, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Water and Energy, and partner organisations have developed the national hand hygiene roadmap and a protocol for food and personal hygiene for school feeding. Both documents were launched on November 4, 2022.
Dr. Dereje Duguma, State minister of the Ministry of Health, stated in his keynote speech at the launching event that the national hand hygiene roadmap is intended to supplement existing hand hygiene efforts and COVID-19 response interventions by designing game-changing strategic actions. He calls on all stakeholders to use the roadmap to achieve universal access to hand washing facilities and services. According to Dr. Dereje, the Ministry of Health is working closely with the Ministries of Education, Water and Energy to incorporate a section about hand hygiene into the education curriculum, to build more handwashing facilities in schools, and to supplement the country's successful implementation of school feeding.
School WASH is one of the seven cross-cutting priorities in Ethiopia's Education Sector Development Plan V. According to Dr. Fanta Mandefro, State minister of the Ministry of Education, access to handwashing facilities in schools can improve students' and teachers' health, attendance, and welfare, as well as contribute to better education outcomes. However, every year, students skip school due to water-related illnesses, which are frequently transmitted in schools. As a result, the Hand Hygiene Road Map and the food for personal hygiene guideline for school feeding programmes will foster an environment in which many stakeholders can work together to improve handwashing rates in schools and achieve improved educational outcomes. For a country that loses 70,000 children under five every year and, is focused on preventive health care, improving hand hygiene is a serious matter that needs everybody’s engagement.
The "H is for Handwashing” initiative was also inaugurated as part of the launching ceremony, and an agreement for its execution was signed by Unilever and the Ministries of Health, and Education. This is an endeavour into incorporate teaching about handwashing in the curriculum. And also to link the letter “H” to handwashing rather than hat or any other object starting with h.