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Yesterday — 17 May 2022Main stream

Water integrity is missing from the climate debate: here’s why that has to change

Billions of dollars of new, urgent, often poorly traced climate adaptation funding are flowing through relatively untested channels into the water sector, a sector which is vulnerable to corruption because of its fragmentation, technical complexity, and the essential, irreplaceable nature of the services it provides 

Close to 80% of climate adaptation funds are directed to the water sector and related sectors – wastewater, disaster risk management, and natural resources management. This is already an inordinately small share of total climate finance: only 6.3% of climate finance goes to adaptation and not mitigation. It’s all the more important to make sure it is not wasted.

 

Corruption and poor integrity pose significant risks for climate adaptation

The IPCC scientific committee stated in 2021 with high confidence that floods and droughts are going to become more intense, water availability will be affected for human consumption, agriculture, industrial and economic activities, leading to food crisis and biodiversity loss. In its latest report of April 2022, it stresses the need for “accelerated and equitable climate action” and shows that the next few years are critical to avert disaster. Water is the primary vessel for climate adaptation work.

Effective “accelerated and equitable climate action” is threatened by insufficient funding and by corruption and poor integrity. These waste resources and talent, divert much-needed funding away from those who need it most, and drive inappropriate adaptation choices.

 

What happens when climate finance in the water sector is misused

Corruption does not just result in financial losses. In the water and sanitation sectors, it impacts directly on people’s lives, health, and livelihoods, on socio-economic development and on environmental sustainability. And it hits hardest in the most vulnerable communities, poor coastal and rural populations in developing countries, those affected by conflict and political instability, marginalised communities, those with limited choices of where to live and how to earn a living, women-headed households, the old and the very young, and people with disabilities.

In some cases, poor integrity can increase the risk of maladaptation, where the outcomes of climate adaptation programmes are subverted: climate-related risks increase instead of decrease or new additional risks and vulnerabilities are created.

In practice, there are already many troubling cases of corruption and poor integrity in climate projects, from funds gone missing, to dysfunctional flood protection systems that are not built according to specifications, from capture by elites, to cyclone shelters built for private purposes on private land inaccessible to the targeted community. We are only aware of the tip of the iceberg.

 

Anti-corruption initiatives in climate adaptation are improving

A number of climate finance actors, including major multilateral funds, have already put in place anti-corruption measures and evaluation mechanisms to ensure the efficacy of their programmes. These efforts are important and valuable even if there is room for improvement.

Transparency International’s new report of April 2022 recommends specific improvements in terms of accountability and transparency. It also highlights the need for policies on sexual harassment, related to gender policies focused on promoting equal participation and equitable outcomes for women. This is especially relevant for the water and sanitation sectors where women play a major role in managing household water and hygiene but have little representation at the sector level.

 

Wanted: Integrity initiatives built for and with the water sector

We see both a need and an opportunity for a broader approach that addresses the specific risks of the water sector. This has three major implications:

1.
Focusing on the corporate governance and anti-corruption policies of funders themselves is an important first step. However much more can be achieved by also investing in the capacity for integrity of water and sanitation sector actors, and not only the direct recipients of funding. This means supporting their ability to take advantage of accountability mechanisms and their capacity to assess and preventively act on their specific sector, and water-energy-food nexus, integrity risks.

2.
The water and sanitation sectors have a crucial responsibility: to provide an essential service – and human right – for all. There must a be focus in climate adaptation work on centering the voices, and water and sanitation needs, of the most vulnerable, those bearing the brunt of climate change, the left behind and those who run the risk of being left behind, including climate refugees. Only 2% of climate funds reach vulnerable communities and local communities seldom participate in decision-making on fund allocation and planning. This can and must change.

3.

The water and sanitation sectors are not just about pumps and pipes. Existing financing mechanisms are already skewed towards major infrastructure developments even when these are not in line with people’s needs or with the capacity available to maintain or operate them. Climate adaptation funding has similar biases. Not enough funding is spent on improving the governance systems, with the result that governance failures, including corruption, may lead to significant risk of maladaptation. One way to address this is to assess and address corruption risks during procurement processes but also early on, in budget allocation, planning and design phases. This requires more long-term investment in building governance capacity and in corruption risk assessments.

 

We urgently need to prioritise and invest more in water and sanitation through climate work. We also need to make sure we use available funds to their utmost potential and to the benefit of those who need them most. For this, we need to invest in partnerships with water and sanitation sector stakeholders, and invest in governance and integrity.

 

 

See more resources on the nexus of water integrity and climate finance

 

The post Water integrity is missing from the climate debate: here’s why that has to change appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

Before yesterdayMain stream

IWA-WHO Water Safety Conference 2022

16 May 2022 at 09:47

Co-hosted by the International Water Association (IWA) and World Health Organization (WHO), the Water Safety Conference 2022 will be held on 22-24 June 2022 in Narvik, Norway, following the conference … Read more

The post IWA-WHO Water Safety Conference 2022 appeared first on UN-Water.

100,000 toilets sold and counting!

12 May 2022 at 15:58

Partnering with Ethiopia's private sector for market-based sanitation.

By Dagim Demirew, WASH Business Development Associate Director, PSI

Local small businesses in Ethiopia play a significant role in flushing away the country’s sanitation woes. The big win: these businesses recently hit a major milestone—selling their 100,000th toilet to a household in Ethiopia. Through two USAID-funded multi-year initiatives, Transform WASH and Feed the Future Growth through Nutrition, Population Services International (PSI) has been supporting these local businesses to introduce a broad range of affordable sanitation products and services to local markets.

Products for sanitation businesses in Ethiopia

What existed before

Prior to the launch of the two projects—Transform WASH in 2017 and Feed the Future Growth through Nutrition (GTN) in 2016— the sanitation market serving rural and peri-urban communities barely existed. Previous ‘sanitation marketing’ projects focused only on selling expensive concrete slabs and largely relied on inexperienced businesses. The product and service offerings were not viable for businesses, were undesirable for many households, and lacked potential for scale.

A new approach

The projects have operated in more than 80 woredas (districts) across 9 regions. Learning quickly that the old approach of focusing on concrete slab manufacturing resulted in low quality products and low sales, the team adapted by expanding delivery models to a range of products and services that suited various customer segments. The team recruited experienced entrepreneurs and business partners, selected based on their interest and capacity, and introduced lower-cost improved sanitation innovations, such as the SATO pan, which automatically seals to eliminate odours and flies.

With the introduction of SATO pans, small businesses and service providers, such as masons, became pivotal players in the supply chain. These actors offered simple upgrades and installation services for existing unimproved toilets. Transform WASH’s basic toilet upgrade model—the most popular among newly introduced models—entails masons conducting door-to-door sales of SATO pan installation services.

Diagram showing toilets sold cumulatively

Getting to 100k toilets

Reaching 100,000 toilets in sales was no easy feat. Besides early challenges with installation quality, the team had to overcome stakeholders’ scepticism about using market-based solutions for public health challenges as well as negative community expectations stemming from a history of projects providing free handouts. Transform WASH and GTN transcended these challenges by focusing on customer needs, flexible business models, and business profitability. WASH sector actors have embraced this success, and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the cross-sectoral One WASH National Programme have incorporated the new approaches into the National Market-Based Sanitation Guideline.

Sales and access to basic sanitation services have also been heavily impacted by both national and global events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and internal conflict. While consistently growing over time, sales trends among project business partners have fluctuated—i.e., alternating rise and fall in sales—as depicted in the chart below.

Diagram showing toilets sold monthly in Ethiopia

During the first three years of market development activities, sales tripled every year, peaking in February 2020. This trend suggested sales would continue increasing until the onset of the rainy season in June. However, sales declined by 150%, from 4,276 in February to 1,700 in April 2020, due to the onset of the pandemic. The toilet market has just recently recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

Supporting market recovery

To support market recovery, PSI-Ethiopia introduced the Decision Quotient (DQ) Sales® method, an approach developed by PSI’s partner, Whitten and Roy Partnership, that helps customers better identify their sanitation problems and the financial and social cost of those problems. Project staff were trained in this approach and in turn built the capacity of business partners, typically mason toilet installers, to use the DQ Sales® approach for executing effective door-to-door promotion and sales. Using this approach, nearly one out of every three households reached with the DQ approach purchased a product and installation service.  

Following the introduction of the DQ Sales® approach, sales rose rapidly from June until November 2020, when the security situation in the Tigray and Benishangul Gumuz regions forced an end to toilet sales in those regions. The expansion of the conflict to the West Oromia and Amhara regions (North and South Wollo) in September 2021 also correlated with a decrease in sales in the following month.

Takeaways

100,000 toilets have given nearly half a million people access to basic sanitation.  This is far from Ethiopia’s goal of achieving universal access, but reaching this milestone proves that, despite significant external challenges and shocks, that market-based sanitation efforts can create a resilient market in Ethiopia that will continue to accelerate toilet sales into the future. 

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About Transform WASH

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 Programme, and regional and sub-regional governments.

About Growth through Nutrition

USAID Feed the Future Ethiopia, Growth through Nutrition Activity was a five-year (2016-2021) multisector nutrition and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project which aimed to improve the nutritional status of women and young children in Ethiopia. The project worked with the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock; Health; Water, Irrigation, and Energy; and Education at all levels to strengthen institutional capacity and influence policy to improve nutrition. Save the Children led the implementation of the project in collaboration with six international and five local partners. PSI was one of the international partners.

Transform WASH partner logos:

partner logos Transform WASH

Professional Drilling Management – Online Course 2022

12 May 2022 at 11:43
An estimated 50% of the global and 75% of the African population rely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. This is likely to increase in the future, especially in the face of climate change. Drilled water wells are vital to achieving universal, clean drinking water, with the sources safe, affordable, reliable and available. Services … Continue reading "Professional Drilling Management – Online Course 2022"

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Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all

12 May 2022 at 09:17

On 2 and 3 June 2022, Stockholm+50, a high-level international environmental meeting, will be held in Sweden. Anchored in the UN’s Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, … Read more

The post Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all appeared first on UN-Water.

Smart water: the experience of utilities in adopting digital solutions

11 May 2022 at 12:26

Across 2021 and 2022 the GSMA’s Digital Utilities programme and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) collaborated on research exploring four Kenyan water utilities experience of adopting digital solutions and their digitalisation journey more broadly. This blog, co-written by Eden Mati (WSUP) and Zach White (GSMA), summarises the report’s key findings and messages. You can read the full report here

Digital solutions for water utilities

Digital solutions are equipping utility managers with new tools to meet the coming challenges of rapid urbanisation and climate change while also tackling long-standing sector challenges related to water losses and financial stability. These challenges, and an indication of their extent, are summarised in the table below.

Digital solutions in water are transforming how utilities and customers interact. Mobile money is a game-changer for revenue collection while IoT (internet of things) devices have created new ways to monitor water services and automate processes. Combined with mobile payments, IoT devices enable pay-as-you-go (PAYG) service models, and smart metering has become a clear use case. Finally, digital platforms and enterprise resource planning (ERP) apps are supporting more effective utility management and providing a foundation for digitalisation across utility operations.

Mobile services are critical to many of these services thus making mobile operators a natural partner for utility services. Utilities verticals have emerged as a key use case for IoT devices, and many mobile operators are looking beyond integrations to become more active players as part of their revenue diversification strategies.

Key digital solutions in urban water in Kenya

Our research

In the water sector, to date, most research on digitalisation has focused on high-income country contexts and solutions. This bias in focus overlooks important differences in the complexity of water systems, digital payments architecture, availability of finance inherent in serving dense low-income neighbourhoods. In addition, it draws attention away from where digital solutions could have the greatest impact.

One of the aims for the research we conducted was to address part of the evidence gap. We took this on through examining the digitalisation journeys of four Kenyan water utilities and engaging the regulator (WASREB) for a sector-wide perspective. The four utilities in this research serve three of Kenya’s four largest cities. Combined, they are responsible for the water services of more than six million people, employ over 4,000 people and have an annual turnover of 11 billion Kenyan Shillings (about USD 104 million). In short, they are some of the larger and better-performing water utilities in Kenya, which is important context for the findings. Through detailed case studies and interviews with key players in the water sector, we identify important lessons and opportunities.

Street in Nairobi. Credit: Brian Otieno

Key findings on digitisation journeys

We looked at the use of digital technology across a set of ‘domains’ that related to different digital/utility functions. Within these domains, we focused on mapping the use of some of the prominent technologies and solutions used in the sector. The figure below outlines a high-level mapping of where the different utilities were using key technologies.Key findings on digitisation journeys

 

The other aspect we looked at was the sequencing of the digitalisation efforts for the last ten or so years. Though the pattern broadly changed between utilities, we found there was a common progression at different points in time:

  • Pre-2015 – The initial stages of digitalisation generally focused on payments, meter reading and billing.
  • 2015–2019 – There was a focus on overhauling customer relationships and engagement, including web and social media presence. Many utilities also started piloting different smart meters or smart-ready meters and GIS mapping their customers.
  • 2019–present – Some of the utilities shifted their focus to digital systems and overhauling their ERP systems. There was also an increased focus on deploying smart meters for household connections and kiosks.

Some key lessons from the experience of the four utilities

Four key lessons emerged from our analysis and are applicable to utilities at early stages of digitalisation.

  • Investing progressively in digitalisation is vital. Making progress digitalising multiple areas of utility operations is critical to reaping the full benefits in any one area. For example, efficiencies in meter reading will only be realised when they are linked to more efficient billing and mobile payment processes.
  • Digitalising core functions first can deliver quick wins. For utilities, this is most evident in metering and billing and in customer relationships. These are also the areas most likely to improve cash flow and support better customer experiences and relationships.
  • When a new technology impacts on existing jobs and roles, there needs to be a plan in place for staff retraining or redeployment. This is critical to shaping a vision of digitalisation and reassuring staff that they have trust in their job security. Effective redeployment is also critical to reaping the benefits of more efficient processes. These transitions need to be supported by senior leadership so that digitalisation can be incorporated in broader change processes and staff feel that reassurances are credible.
  • Investment in digital systems must occur alongside the digitalisation of operations or functions. Utilities that had recently made investments in their ERP systems stressed that this was vital to realising the benefits of their various digitalisation initiatives.

Download the full report: Water Utility Digitalisation in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Key opportunities

The research team identified five key opportunities for utilities based on their stated objectives and actions that are likely to overcome some of their main constraints.

  • Peer learning between utilities. In many cases, the experience of one utility holds lessons for others. This extends to sharing information on market offerings and price and quality benchmarks. This is a clear opportunity in the Kenyan water sector, but also applies in other LMIC contexts.
  • Documenting the pros and cons and the costs of digitalisation initiatives. This documentation should also be codified in regulatory guidance for the sector. Robust data on the benefits of digitalisation is still relatively limited. Documenting and sharing this data between utilities would help to inform investment decisions.
  • Advanced metering (including PAYG solutions) and network monitoring and control. These are the technologies most likely to address non-revenue water (NRW) losses, which are still primarily managed manually.
  • Digitally enabled financing solutions for financiers, innovators, and utilities. Innovative and flexible financing is already underway as new players emerge and new funds are developed by existing players.
  • Stronger partnerships with mobile operators. Many of the digital solutions discussed in this report have mobile services at their core, including mobile payments, smart metering and network monitoring. This makes mobile operators an important partner for utilities. In Kenya, this opportunity is exemplified by Safaricom’s move into the smart metering space.

This report seeks to fill the evidence gap in utility digitalisation in LMICs. The case studies detail the extent of digitalisation in the utility sector and the scope for opportunity. Kenya is home to some of the larger and better-performing utilities and the experience of the water sector can provide guidance to utilities in other LMICs seeking to digitalise their operations.

Top image: Woman taking water from a pre-paid dispenser in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Brian Otieno

April 2022 newsletter: Justice for Phichit

9 May 2022 at 15:51
By: editor
April 2022 newsletter: Justice for Phichit editor 9 May 2022 - 14:51

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Strategic Plan, Dera Woreda, Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia

9 May 2022 at 11:31

This 12-year costed plan will serve to guide the Dera Woreda's multisectoral WASH activities.

An SDG planning tool was used to align with local and global WASH indicators and to design a plan in collaboration with a planning team comprised of Woreda WASH Team (WWT) and key staff from NGO partners in the woreda and with support from Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) and IRC WASH. This 12-year costed plan will serve to guide the woreda's multisectoral WASH activities. Additional outputs of the model are "consequences" of the plan, such as financial needs and sectoral and institutional requirements. Based on results of monitoring and periodic review meetings, updates and adjustments will be made regularly to the plan.

This document is a draft version.

North Mecha Woreda and Merawi Town 2019 to 2030 West Gojjam Zone, Amhara National Regional State

9 May 2022 at 11:17

A 12-year woreda WASH strategic plan to be implemented in 33 rural and 6 urban kebeles of the woreda.

Cognizant of the need to improve the water supply sanitation and hygiene status of the woreda in line with national and global standards, the need for a long-term strategic plan has been identified. Hence, the Woreda has developed its 12-year woreda WASH strategic plan to be implemented in 33 rural and 6 urban kebeles of the woreda.

This document is a draft version.

Strategic development plan of Farta woreda and Debre Tabor town (2019-2030)

9 May 2022 at 10:59

A strategic plan to achieve 100% universal access to water supply and sanitation services by 2030.

To align the programs with the 2030 agenda, CARE Ethiopia through the collaboration of the government and Millennium Water Alliance designed a strategic development plan to meet the 2030 agenda for Farta woreda. Therefore, this document clearly indicates the strategic plan of Farta woreda and Debre Tabor town up to 2030 to achieve 100% universal access to water supply and sanitation services, 30% of the community will have safely managed and 70% of them will have basic services for both water supply and sanitation facilities. This strategic plan helps the woreda give direction and outlines measurable goals and measures their day-to-day progress towards the achievements.

This document is a draft version.

Dushanbe Water Process

9 May 2022 at 09:22

The Government of Tajikistan, committed to continue providing a platform for policy dialogue, partnership and action, is organizing, with the support of the UN, high-level international conferences throughout the Water … Read more

The post Dushanbe Water Process appeared first on UN-Water.

36th UN-Water Meeting

5 May 2022 at 09:43

The 36th UN-Water Meeting, convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 7-8 April 2022, offered 121 participants from UN-Water Members, Partners, and Observers the first opportunity to meet in person after two … Read more

The post 36th UN-Water Meeting appeared first on UN-Water.

Plan stratégique des services publics d’eau, d'hygiène et d'assainissement Commune Rurale de Tioribougou - 2018-2030

4 May 2022 at 13:57

Plan stratégique communal de Tioribougou 2018-2030.

Le Code des Collectivités Territoriales confère à la commune de Tioribougou, le rôle de maître d'ouvrage des services d'eau potable et d'assainissement dans l'espace communal. La présente stratégie communale qui en découle vise à rendre plus performant, le service public d'approvisionnement en eau potable, hygiène et assainissement (AEPHA).

Avec l'appui technique et financier de : Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, IRC Burkina Faso, World Vision

Plan stratégique des services publics d’eau, d'hygiène et d'assainissement de Commune rurale de Ouolodo - 2018-2030

4 May 2022 at 13:47

Plan stratégique communal de Ouolodo 2018-2030.

Le Code des Collectivités Territoriales confère à la commune de Ouolodo, le rôle de maître d'ouvrage des services d'eau potable et d'assainissement dans l'espace communal. La présente stratégie communale qui en découle vise à rendre plus performant, le service public d'approvisionnement en eau potable, hygiène et assainissement (AEPHA).

Avec l'appui technique et financier de : Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, IRC Burkina Faso, World Vision

Plan stratégique communal des services publics d’eau, d'hygiène et d'assainissement 2018-2030 de Nossombougou

4 May 2022 at 13:38

Plan stratégique communal de Nossombougou 2018-2030.

Le Code des Collectivités Territoriales confère à la commune de Nossombougou, le rôle de maître d’ouvrage des services d’eau potable et d’assainissement dans l’espace communal. La présente stratégie communale qui en découle vise à rendre plus performant, le service public d'approvisionnement en eau potable, hygiène et assainissement (AEPHA).

Avec l'appui technique et financier de : Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, IRC Burkina Faso, World Vision

World Hand Hygiene Day 2022

2 May 2022 at 09:41

Hand hygiene and infection prevention and control (IPC) in health facilities helps protect the health and safety of patients and health workers. Led by the World Health Organization (WHO), World … Read more

The post World Hand Hygiene Day 2022 appeared first on UN-Water.

Free trade agreements: Corporate greed makes the right to water of Phichit villagers a distant reality

27 April 2022 at 11:00
By: editor
Free trade agreements: Corporate greed makes the right to water of Phichit villagers a distant reality editor 27 April 2022 - 10:00

Keeping it REAL for the Future of Rural Water Services Delivery

25 April 2022 at 20:46

Keeping it REAL for the Future of Rural Water Services Delivery

Providing safe, reliable water supply to rural populations is among the most difficult challenges of international development. Water represents a fundamental human health need as well as a critical factor for maintaining household hygiene, enabling food production, and supporting the industries that allow societies to flourish.

While a formidable undertaking, there has certainly been progress. More than 40 years have now passed since the beginning of United Nations’ International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade (1980–1990), and between 2015 and 2020, the proportion of rural populations covered by safely managed drinking water services did increase — by an average of 7 percentage points per year, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP)’s most recent progress report.

Still, as of 2020, less than a third (28 percent) of the rural population of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) has access to safely managed drinking water services. In sub-Saharan Africa, barely over one in ten rural households (13 percent) were served by safely managed supplies in 2020; indeed, less than half of the rural population of sub-Saharan Africa enjoyed access to even basic services, defined by JMP as drinking water from an improved source with under 30 minutes of collection time, including queuing. Worldwide, of the estimated 800 million people who lacked basic drinking water services in 2020, roughly 80 percent lived in rural areas, and half of those were in LDCs.

APAC, UGANDA — May 14, 2021: A group of people collecting water from a handpump in Northern Uganda. Photo: Edinah Samuel, Aquaya

What policies, programs, and systems can accelerate and sustain the provision of safe water to rural populations? One of the ways that USAID seeks to answer this question is through its new centrally funded research project, Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water). Staffed by a consortium of academic researchers, practitioners, and sector analysts, as well as a global convening organization, REAL-Water will spend the next five years building the evidence base for increasing the performance of rural water supply systems, including protection and management of the water resources on which they depend.

Fifteen years after the end of its first declared water and sanitation decade, the United Nations pronounced the ten years between 2005 and 2015 the “Water for Life” decade. During these two celebrated water-focused periods, the dominant paradigm for rural water has shifted. Coming into the 1980s, central governments were commonly expected to build and operate rural water supply systems (even as sovereign budgets were nowhere near sufficient to meet that responsibility). Over the course of the 1990s and into the Water for Life decade, the notion of community involvement and management gained support, and along with it, an honest recognition of the limited capacities of rural populations to successfully and sustainably run their own water supply systems in the absence of financial and technical support. Of late, the community management imperative has begun to give way to the concept of service delivery. This directs focus past capital construction of pumps and pipes toward the professional operation and maintenance of water supply systems over time, along with the financial reserves required to support it. For example, the recently concluded USAID-funded Sustainable WASH Services Learning Partnership (via its partners IRC and Whave in Uganda, Fundifix in Kenya, and IRC in Ethiopia) made a convincing case that professionalized scheduled maintenance and repairs can substantially improve performance of rural water systems.

The REAL-Water project focal areas and the relationships between them. Design: Harold Lockwood, Aguaconsult; Vanessa Guenther, Aquaya

Building in part on the Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership, REAL-Water consists of three main research domains. The first, led by Aguaconsult, Ltd., asks how government oversight, professionalized support to community-managed rural water services, and alternative management models can be employed to increase the sustainability, quality, and reach of rural water services.

The second domain, led by Aquaya, focuses on the models and factors for improving routine drinking water quality monitoring and drinking water safety in rural, resource-poor environments.

The Centre for Social and Environmental Innovation (CSEI) at India’s Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) leads research in the third domain on water resources planning, seeking to identify and overcome its most important obstacles at scales relevant to rural water service authorities in low- and middle-income countries.

To test our research hypotheses in real-world conditions, REAL-Water is fortunate to include one of Africa’s premier academic research institutions –Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) — as well as two consortium partners that build, operate, and maintain rural water systems: Water Mission and Safe Water Network.

Making sure that REAL-Water asks the most important rural water supply questions in the most sensible ways requires effective engagement with both local and global water sector actors. The Skat Foundation’s Rural Water Supply Network, with thousands of members worldwide, will be instrumental in this regard.

REAL-Water podcast co-hosts Ranjiv Khush (left) and Jeff Albert (right). Photo: Kiki Photography

In addition, we are pleased to introduce the REAL-Water podcast. Tune in and check out the welcome episode now. Project Director Ranjiv Khush and Deputy Director Jeff Albert will co-host conversations asking the most important questions on rural water supply, featuring practitioners, analysts, government officials, and donors. The podcast will provoke discussions intended to “keep it REAL” by challenging our underlying assumptions, including scrutiny of the potential for research and evidence to drive big changes in policy and practice. The REAL-Water podcast will probe rural water challenges through three lenses: financing, governance, and innovation.

With respect to the first of these lenses, we must be sober about the reality that rural water supply systems are rarely financially viable. As Oxford University’s Rob Hope and colleagues have recently written, the economics of rural water are fundamentally different, because of the dual challenges of scale (low numbers of sparsely located customers) and uneven demand (a function of rural customers shifting their multiple water sourcing behaviors seasonally). The REAL-Water podcast will explore who currently pays for rural water supply services, whether they pay enough, and what service tariff “affordability” means. Under what circumstances are the collected tariffs sufficient for reliable service, where they are not, and how can we make up the difference? What do we know about how to direct public and donor funds in ways that maximize not only accountability, but also efficiency and performance?

The governance lens will probe how government institutions are equipped to deliver basic services. It will explore what kind of management arrangements are optimal in different contexts, from community-based management to public utility service provision, public-private partnerships, and delegated professionalized maintenance.

Finally, the innovation lens will examine what novel technologies and institutional arrangements can lead to better cost recovery, more consistent water quality monitoring and treatment, and ultimately more reliable rural water system performance.

We at REAL-Water are excited about this journey and hope you will join us!

Listen to the REAL-Water Podcast on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

By REAL Water Team


Keeping it REAL for the Future of Rural Water Services Delivery was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA): Sector Ministers’ Meeting

25 April 2022 at 09:43

Sanitation and Water for All’s (SWA) 2022 Sector Ministers’ Meeting (SMM) is taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia on 18-19 May. It is hosted by the Government of Indonesia and co-convened … Read more

The post Sanitation and Water for All (SWA): Sector Ministers’ Meeting appeared first on UN-Water.

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