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Yesterday — 21 October 2021Main stream

Use every drop: helping water providers fight back against climate-driven water scarcity

21 October 2021 at 11:29

This is the first blog in a series exploring recommendations from WSUP’s new report, The missing link in climate adaptation, released ahead of COP26. Read the full report here: www.wsup.com/the-missing-link

Recommendation one: Use every drop

For centuries, the world has lived as if water were an unlimited resource. Now, thanks to climate change piling pressure onto rapid urbanisation, we know that water is a precious, finite resource. We need to look after every drop.

One of the defining characteristics about the response to the Cape Town water crisis was the ability of the city authorities to dramatically lower water consumption and use technology to improve distribution of water across the whole network.

The people living in townships surrounding the city were used to water shortages: this was their daily life. But inhabitants in the rest of the city were subjected to the now-renowned Day Zero communications campaign, encouraging citizens to dramatically reduce their consumption. And the campaign worked, with water consumption dropping nearly 60%.

In a context of declining water availability due to climate change – the drought in Cape Town was made three times more likely due to climate change – cities need to place increasing efforts to make the best use of the water that they have.

But cities need to act before they reach the critical point that Cape Town found itself in, and before an aggressive Day Zero-style communications campaign becomes necessary.

Instead, WSUP’s experience is that in many developing country cities, the far less eye-catching work of fixing leaks is crucial.

According to the International Water Association, 5.2 billion cubic metres of water is lost in sub-Saharan Africa each year – the equivalent to 64 litres per day for every person in the region.

In Madagascar, for example, which has been facing a water shortage since the El-Nino induced drought of 2017, the national utility JIRAMA lost enough clean water in 2020 to supply 650,000 people with clean water (based on the World Health Organisation’s 50 litres per day guidance). Given the extent to which climate change is increasing the likelihood of water scarcity – particularly now, with the south of the country experiencing its worst drought for decades – reducing water losses is a high priority. WSUP has worked with JIRAMA for years to build their capacity to identify and fix leaks, as this video shows:

Reduction of leaks can go hand in hand with increasing access to the poorest residents. Annual rainfall has fallen steadily in Mozambique since the 1960s and in recent years the levels in the Pequenos Libombos dam, which serves the capital city Maputo, have fallen perilously low, resulting in water rationing in the city.

In Maputo, the utility Águas da Região de Maputo (AdeM) has introduced a new model with the support of WSUP which involves community-based organisations delivering services into some of the most densely populated low-income communities. The result has been improved customer satisfaction, reduced water losses from leaks, and increased utility revenue which can be reinvested into more service improvements.

Read more about the customer-centric model in Maputo

Digital innovation can play a role in assisting water utilities to monitor water use and wastage. In Lusaka and Maputo, WSUP has been piloting systems designed to continuously monitor water across urban networks. Using intelligent pressure management software, the systems enable distribution of water to be adjusted according to the need, helping improve water reliability and tackle the challenge of intermittent water supplies, which affects over one billion people around the world. The work is being informed by the successes of Cape Town, which introduced pressure management from 2017 to decrease overall consumption as well as reduce the frequency of pipe leaks.

A newly installed bulk meter in Lusaka that improves performance of the water system

But enabling utilities to make the best use of scarce water resources cannot be fixed just by technology. It requires every department in the organisation to be working together towards a common purpose.

The deployment of WSUP’s Utility Strengthening Framework in southern Zambia, where the Zambezi river basin is one of the most vulnerable in Africa to climate change, has been transformational in helping the regional water and sanitation utility develop a plan for using water more effectively.

WSUP Utility Diagnostic
WSUP’s Utility Strengthening Framework

In 2019, the utility’s ability to provide water for the city of Livingstone was seriously affected because its raw water intake from the Zambezi – built way before climate change had become a reality – was only able to abstract minimal amounts, due to river levels falling so low.

As a result of WSUP’s work implementing the Utility Strengthening Framework, Southern Water & Sanitation Company realised the need to improve management of sanitation waste in order to reduce groundwater contamination and facilitate the usage of groundwater, to reduce the reliance on surface water.

Read: Building resilience to climate change: experiences from Southern Zambia

But much, much more needs to be done to enable water and sanitation utilities to respond to the threat of climate change. WSUP is committed to helping our partner utilities across Africa to use every drop of water, using the Utility Strengthening Framework and other tools.

Top image: Resident accessing water at a pre-paid water dispenser in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Brian Otieno

World Toilet Day 2021: Valuing toilets

21 October 2021 at 10:37

World Toilet Day, 19 November, celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the … Read more

The post World Toilet Day 2021: Valuing toilets appeared first on UN-Water.

Before yesterdayMain stream

Terminating the problem of unsafe water and sanitation services

19 October 2021 at 10:37
By: huston

Recently I listened to a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger on how the climate movement is stuck and needs to reset. I think our approach to solving the water and sanitation crisis could help.

I recently listened to a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Austrian Climate Summit. He lamented about the stagnation and apathy in the movement to combat climate change.  People are ‘stuck in despair and confusion,’ he said, struggling to grasp what it means for the future of our species, which leaves them frozen and unable to take a single step forward.  Headlines like: ‘The icebergs are melting’, ‘Don’t use plastic’, ‘1.5 degrees is a tipping point’, ‘We should be carbon free’ and ‘It's all connected’. What do they really mean?

Similar to the ‘paralysis by analysis’ that we talk about as systems thinkers and leaders, too much information can be counterproductive. This is especially when it is alarming and there is no clear strategic guidance to help us sort through it to find a positive way forward.

Being the action-movie hero that he is, Schwarzenegger (also known as The Terminator), proposed that we need a single shared enemy around which we can rally the public, and international governments, to create a path toward victory and a better future. Schwarzenegger proposes we call this enemy ‘pollution,’ as a useful oversimplification - a clear visual guide - something around which we can create an action plan. ‘Pollution is bad… pollution makes my kids sick… we need to stop polluting in our cities and with the way we live.’ Voilà, the antagonist in our plot to reverse climate change has emerged.

With the problem clear, solutions begin to surface and make sense. The public can participate; we could pollute less by eating vegetarian food, because animal farms create a lot of pollution. We could pollute less by taking the train, because planes leave that cloud of smoke. Our country could pollute less by changing how we produce energy, and by consuming less of it overall.

With a shared (if not simplistic) vision of what the problem is, a wide spectrum of citizens and businesses can start to imagine solutions that they can contribute to, while calling on government and business leaders to be the protagonists for leading our journey toward triumph.

Is ‘The Terminator’ a visionary? I’m not sure. But what he says resonates with my experiences in the water and sanitation sector. And I would argue that our sector is far ahead of the climate movement in terms of leadership.

Workshop with learning alliance in Kabarole, incl. District Councillor, District Engineer, Health Officer, NGO representative

A strategy workshop with the learning alliance in Kabarole District, including a District Councillor, District Engineer, Health Officer, and a representative of an environmental NGO. Photo credit: IRC Uganda

In my research on public drinking water safety, I have seen that a vision-led approach to solving complex problems can surface viable solutions from confusion and despair. I’ve seen this in district council meetings, national ministerial dialogues, and Watershed stakeholders workshops. A shared vision and goal, a strategy to achieve it, and a set of manageable tasks to start pursuing that goal are enough to get started with an incremental, or even a radical, change agenda.  

Taking the example of Uganda 

In our recent article in the International Journal of Water Resources Developmentwe wrote about the drinking water systems transformation underway in Uganda. Uganda’s [national] Vision 2040 calls for piped drinking water for all and establishes a palpable vision to move ‘from a peasant to a modern and prosperous society’ in 30 years. Supported by Sustainable Development Goal Targets and a series of National Development Plans, the direction of travel is clear. What does success look like? The picture is on the cover: Rockets, high speed trains, excellence across the board. Including universal safely managed drinking water services.

Cover image of Uganda Vision 2040

 

Globally, public service systems take decades, or centuries, to develop; this is usually achieved through gradual (if not meandering) social and technical change. The government alone cannot command instant change, but it can provide a vision, guidance, and coherence between short- and long-term policy (Rotmans et al.,2001).

Vision 2040 provides a framework within which other actors can innovate and experiment to contribute to the desired change. The government uses incentives and disincentives, for example corporate subsidies and regulation, to encourage (or force) other actors to support its strategy. The precise modalities for achieving Uganda Vision 2040 are not known from the start, but they are discovered over time through collective action and adaptive management in pursuit of the clearly established vision; these include regulatory mechanisms, tariff systems, operation and maintenance frameworks, etc.

This also includes guiding decentralised actors to understand and implement the national agenda. A learning alliance has been established in Kabarole District, Uganda, to help pursue the drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene targets at district level through the identification of solutions that also show promise for scaling nationally. At the heart of this, is the Kabarole District WASH Master Plan 2018-2030.

Our paper describes IRC’s use of a scenario planning exercise to support this process with the learning alliance. Using GIS maps to simulate different possible future scenarios (e.g., water resource degradation or massive piped water extension), we were able to bring diverse stakeholders to a shared understanding of what the future of drinking water services might look like, both positive and negative. 

Fig 1aFig 1bFig 1cFig 1d 

Figure 1: Current situation and future scenarios in Kabarole district. From Left to right : a) water points in 2019, where pink dots are shallow wells/springs, blue are stand taps and deep boreholes; b) 2030 scenario of water resource degradation eliminating shallow sources c) piped network coverage areas in 2019 d) 2030 scenario of expanded piped networks. See Huston et al, (2021).

The scenarios were not intended to be predictive; they were used to prompt a wide range of stakeholders to think creatively together about solutions, and to become invested in helping to shape the future. Aside from the ideas that we came up with, stakeholders left the scenario development exercise with a more refined understanding of the vision they were trying to achieve, and more ideas about what they, as individuals and organisations, could do to help get there. 

Vision, strategy, plan, action

The challenge of achieving universal drinking water services, in even one district, is enormous. But as Schwarzenegger warned in his speech, ‘the constant [focus on] how huge the obstacles are, at some point undermines [peoples’] will to accept and to act.’  When we are working with district councillors, church ministers, civil society leaders, water resource engineers, and more - it is essential that people accept the challenge, then immediately feel empowered and motivated to overcome it.

Does the vision have to be perfect? No. Does the strategy have to have all the details worked out in order to start? No. What is important is that the people involved come to a shared understanding of the current problem and a relatively aligned long-term vision of what the solutions might be. Then, we can move from frozen and daunted toward alert, taking concrete steps to move forward.

If our journey to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 and reverse climate change were an action film? Advice from Mr. Schwarzenegger: 'no one is going to invest huge sums of money in a movie where there is no hope.'

Integrity management for sanitation and water operators: cost-effective booster for service delivery

20 October 2021 at 11:03
By: Ivanna

Water and sanitation services mean life and dignity for city residents and are essential to urban development.

Poor integrity practices in sanitation and water operators impact severely on the delivery of these services. They directly raise costs and legal risks, weaken service levels, and threaten operators’ reputation and long-term sustainability. Improving integrity on the other hand can improve service delivery, efficiency, and credit-worthiness.

For too long, integrity risks have been underestimated or ignored by water operators because they were too difficult to measure, too misunderstood to fix, or too sensitive to address.

The first two barriers now have solutions. There are well-established tools to assess integrity risks and to address them by strengthening corporate governance, management and compliance. Water operators can now take advantage of these tools to improve and ensure sustainability of service delivery.

“An action utilities can take is prioritising transparency and accountability in corporate governance. This is what a service provider in Ecuador did with the Integrity Management Toolbox. They looked at risks and found ways to act preventively. They invested in accountability through public consultations, presentations and publications. They also used innovative ways to reach communities, promoting participation through community theatre, adding information on bills, and investing in communication technology.”

Marcello Basani – Lead Water and Sanitation Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

 

Tools for integrity: understanding and mitigating common integrity risks

Getting a good understanding of the critical integrity risks is the first step towards being able to address them. There are a number of tools to help with this process: internal financial or compliance audits can provide useful input on corruption risks, as can data analysis on key risk areas such as procurement. More comprehensively, there are a number of governance indicator frameworks and assessment methodologies that can be used.

The international Aquarating utility benchmarking standard has recently launched an additional Focus Analysis to measure integrity. WIN also has two complementary tools for integrity risk assessments in utilities depending on their scale and resources, including an indicator-based Integrity Assessment.

Such tools can bring to light integrity red flags and help to identify the most severe risks at a given time: are procurement rules adhered to or more frequently applied with exceptions? Are high level positions exercised by under-qualified people? Are staff accepting bribes within the exercise of their duties?

WIN’s assessment tools are generally applied as part of a longer term integrity management change process. The Integrity Management Toolbox (and the extended version, referred to as InWASH) is used to drive a process of identification of priority risks and the tools to mitigate them. It includes tools to improve integrity across different areas, such as human resources, customer service, procurement, governance, and financial management.

The Integrity Management Toolbox has already been used by water and sanitation operators across the globe serving over 4 million users.

 

Priorities for integrity action for sanitation and water providers

There are many ways for operators to advance integrity. And every step counts. TAPA, short for Transparency, Accountability, Participation, and Anti-Corruption, is helpful in framing the key elements for integrity.

Transparency: Ensure users and staff know their rights, see how decisions are taken and money is spent.

Accountability: Clarify responsibilities, give space to complaints and discussion, ensuring stakeholders uphold mandates.

Participation: Engage with the people affected by your decisions.

Anti-corruption: Play by the rules, leave no space for corruption or impunity.

In addition to internal governance and management risks, the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021 highlights specific integrity risks that require attention from urban service providers. Addressing these risks can play a major role in driving change and supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6.

 

 

Case studies: water operators in Latin America lead with integrity and see results in customer satisfaction

Several sanitation and water operators across Latin America are successfully using integrity assessment and management tools. They shared their experiences at the Stockholm World Water Week 2021 (see full video of their interventions here).

Like many sanitation and water operators we work with, these leaders are using integrity as a cross-cutting management principle to improve service and build resilience and effectiveness.

An integrity change management process like the one they have all initiated, usually starts with an integrity assessment followed by training and awareness raising, internally and for users. Most of these operators have already seen efficiency gains and are particularly positive about the impact of customer engagement measures and efforts to open service and management data.

 

Water Operator: SEDAPAL

Location: Lima, Peru

Population served: 11.512. 594

Representative: María del Pilar Acha, General Secretary

“With WIN and support from IADB, we worked on mapping integrity risks to mitigate acts of corruption in procurement, clandestine connections, and abuses in water billing. We also created the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Institutional Integrity.

Both, paying customers and users who have received free water during the pandemic have access to complaint mechanisms and can provide comments. We’ve made a clear commitment to transparency and included this in our KPIs and monitoring via Aquarating.”

 

Water Operator: CEA

Location: Queretaro, Mexico

Representative: José Luis de la Vega, Head of the Transparency Unit

“We see integrity as a way of acting in all administrative and operational processes. We see transparent management, accountability and participation as fundamental elements to mitigate acts of corruption and embezzlement. We put this into practice by creating a results-based budget, implementing institutional internal control, and directly engaging with the public via a portal for communities.

The Integrity Management Tool made it easier for us to assess the effectiveness of practices we have been applying such as a code of conduct.”

 

Water Operator: AySA

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population served: 14.441.422

Representative: Marcelo Rogora, Director of Integrity and Best Practices

“The integrity consortium (WIN, SIWI and cewas) has collaborated with us in identifying risks, monitoring and evaluating them. We developed an online tool (AySA DATA) which has four pillars: integrity and transparency, citizen participation, open data and digital transformation. With it, we seek to incorporate the citizens’ perspective in the management of the company and to adhere to accountability processes.

When we refer to integrity risks, we cannot only focus on internal mitigating processes; citizens are essential. They can make complaints, queries, suggestions and thus, serve as sources of risk identification.”

 

Takeaways

Overall, building water integrity into the values of an organisation can be transformative. It is a new way to identify and address root causes of recurring issues and to strengthen trust with users and funders. As such, it benefits sanitation and water operators. And, it benefits users, who receive better sanitation and water services, as is their human right.

 

 

Want to learn more?

The post Integrity management for sanitation and water operators: cost-effective booster for service delivery appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

35th UN-Water Meeting

18 October 2021 at 11:28

The 35th UN-Water Meeting, convened as a virtual event from 4-6 October 2021, brought together UN-Water Members and Partners to advance progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: to ensure … Read more

The post 35th UN-Water Meeting appeared first on UN-Water.

Strengthening WASH businesses in Ethiopia: Start-up requirements and their impact on WASH market development

18 October 2021 at 09:57
By: Feldman

Clearing the way – helping WASH enterprises get an easier start in Ethiopia.

In a series of posts, we will present the main challenges that businesses face when expanding the range of WASH products and services available to households in Ethiopia. After describing these challenges, we will recommend a series of regulatory changes and policy actions designed to address these issues and improve the overall business climate so that enterprises can more easily start up, grow, and serve their communities sustainably. 

This is the fifth of eight planned articles, and it addresses the challenges that enterprises face when starting up WASH-related businesses in Ethiopia.

Woman at an WASH enterprise in Ethiopia

Why does this matter?

Currently, only nine percent of Ethiopians have access to basic sanitation services – a serious situation that affects public health, education, and many other aspects of the country’s economic and social well-being (JMP, 2020). Achieving universal access to basic WASH facilities cannot be done by government or NGOs alone; it will require a strong contribution from the country’s private sector. The Government of Ethiopia recognises this and is working to strengthen private sector businesses that offer WASH products and services, as key element of its greater focus on market-based sanitation (FMoH, 2016). These measures are necessary because the current market only meets a small fraction of the country’s enormous needs.

To gain insight into how these challenges can be addressed, and to do so in a manner that ensures the solutions are affordable to all, the USAID Transform WASH team spoke with a wide range of experts – including business owners, government officials, and technical specialists in Ethiopia and other East African countries – to get their advice and recommendations on how to develop and expand Ethiopia’s WASH market. The post that follows is largely based on these experts’ reflections.

To learn more, follow this link to the Learning Note.

Business start-up requirements

Starting up a business in Ethiopia entails a wide range of administrative, financial, and legal steps. Some entrepreneurs raised concerns that this process can be overly time-consuming, complex, and costly and creates a disincentive to opening a business, especially in a relatively new commercial market, such as for affordable WASH products and services. 

There are range of concerns cited by businesses involved in the start-up or early phases of operation, including:

  • Complex and costly process to import raw materials or finished goods
  • Increasingly strict and constantly changing regulatory environment; some complain of an ‘anti-business’ climate (government mistrust of businesses’ motives)
  • Difficulty accessing hard currency (foreign exchange, or ‘forex’) for procurement and importation and other international transactions
  • High tax and duty rates, which are passed on through higher prices to consumers, thus lowering demand.

These and other challenges are significant contributors to the World Bank’s ranking of Ethiopia as one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to do business. On the other hand, when federal or regional agencies are supportive of a particular project or business, they can pave the way toward rapid progress, so the experiences of individual businesses in the start-up phase can vary considerably.

Business start-up requires that several administrative applications be filed with the appropriate regional and federal government agencies followed by their sign-off or approval. For certain types of operations, like manufacturing, additional steps may be required, such as preparing an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission. If a full ESIA is required, the preparation process typically requires several types of technical experts and can involve a large investment of funds by the applicant. ESIAs serve a vital national purpose of protecting Ethiopia’s environment and local livelihoods, but smaller business start-ups may struggle with this application requirement among others. These processes also require an investment of time, which entails additional costs that start-ups may find difficult or impossible to afford. Initial government review of ESIAs is intended to be relatively rapid (around three weeks), but in practice the entire process of review, revision (as requested by authorities), and approval can take considerably longer. During that time, progress on the specific operation under review will likely be put on hold. One business noted that their ESIA process took more than one year.

A significant issue for foreign enterprises trying to establish an Ethiopian operation is the requirement that they make an initial deposit equivalent of at least US$ 200,000 in an Ethiopian bank (joint ventures between a foreign company and a local partner have a slightly lower requirement of US$ 150,000). While these funds can later be spent once the business is established, the size of this initial deposit can present a significant hurdle for many investors and small- to medium-sized enterprises.

In some countries, including the UK and South Africa, a separate classification has been created and designed for businesses that address social issues. These are referred to as “social enterprises” (SEs), which are deemed to support the government in meeting economic growth, public health, or other societal objectives.  SEs are businesses that have a well-defined social purpose but operate using commercial business principles. The SE classification confers tax incentives, streamlined registration processes, and other benefits. This allows such enterprises to combine the mission typically associated with a non-profit agency with the focus and efficiency of a for-profit company (and, in the process, generate revenue to finance a portion of its operations). By encouraging the emergence of SEs as a formally established business structure, governments can expand and speed up access to critical services, such as education, energy, health, and water and sanitation, especially in poor communities or regions where it is often most challenging to extend those services.

In Ethiopia, the SE registration option does not yet exist. However, a registered non-profit or non-governmental organisation (NGO) can apply to the Agency for Civil Society Organisations (ACSO) to undertake an income-generating activity (IGA). This allows an NGO to generate revenue under its IGA wing, separately registered, which can be used to cover some of the NGO’s administrative and operational costs while continuing to receive grants and donations. However, relatively few NGOs have sought an IGA classification (British Council, 2017). The British Council study found that most socially-minded businesses in Ethiopia either register as a micro or small enterprise (MSE) or as a sole proprietorship. Another finding was that, regardless of their registration as for-profit businesses, these companies continued to regard themselves as SEs.  

The fact that many socially minded businesses choose to register as MSEs fits with the government’s policy, which states that encouraging the expansion of the MSE sector is part of its strategy to reduce unemployment. MSE registration is carried out by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and is considered to be relatively straightforward with low barriers to entry. The MSE classification does carry with it certain limits to capital and human resources, such as a maximum of 30 employees. However, in the overall scheme of the government’s national drive to grow the economy and provide more jobs, larger businesses and industrial interests (which have the capacity to employ a greater number of people) often take precedence over smaller enterprises, such as MSEs and start-ups.   

The challenges of starting a new business in the country are likely impacting entrepreneurs in many sectors and are certainly having a major effect on businesses serving the WASH sector. Encouraging constructive reforms to streamline the registration process and to lower barriers to entry will help expand the ability of the private sector to offer solutions to a wide range of consumer needs related to household and institutional sanitation facilities, water supply and water treatment, and many other aspects of WASH. Some of the ways this can be accomplished are summarized below.

Recommendations
  • Review and sensibly reform start-up capital investment requirements to encourage more rapid growth of the WASH market by incentivising foreign business investment and foreign/domestic partnerships in the WASH sector.
  • Promote streamlining and fast-tracking of the product certification process for MSEs and especially for WASH manufacturing enterprises, including coordination and harmonisation between the Ethiopian Food and Drug Authority and the Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise.
  • Streamline business licensing and financial auditing processes, especially for enterprises that demonstrate poverty reduction, public health, environmental, or other social objective. Consider establishing a separate classification for such businesses (as social enterprises) to help grow this sector of the economy.  Engage with Social Enterprise Ethiopia and other relevant groups to help promote this.
  • Encourage Social Enterprise Ethiopia or other business groups to offer support for SEs to efficiently navigate and comply with regulatory requirements, including those which are potentially technically complex, such as product certification and ESIAs.
  • Strengthen the IGA mechanism for registered NGOs, including providing tax and other relevant forms of relief to encourage greater use of this option by WASH-focused non-profit organisations.
  • Review policies focused on reducing unemployment and encourage expansion of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and other platforms, which can train young people to join or start WASH-related businesses.
  • Advocate with the Ethiopian Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Commission to promote streamlined requirements and fast-tracking of ESIAs for socially oriented businesses focused on extending critical services to lower-income populations, including WASH products and services.
  • Seek corporate engagement, including foreign corporate interests, in promoting private sector engagement in the WASH sector in Ethiopia. This could be through direct advocacy with government or possibly by establishing a formal public-private partnership initiative. Enlist the support of banking and finance institutions, as well as Ethiopian business groups, to help promote the goals of such an initiative.

Our future is at hand: strengthening hygiene and increasing access to water and sanitation services in Madagascar

14 October 2021 at 15:02

In these recent months, we have seen hand hygiene become a fundamental component of people’s health and safety, giving all the more reason for better investment in water, sanitation and hygiene services.

As Madagascar continues to grapple with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring long-term systemic change in water, sanitation and hygiene is vital. Over the last three years, Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organisation, in partnership with UAE Water Aid (Suqia), has been working closely with WSUP to improve water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and practices in schools and communities in two of Madagascar’s largest cities: Antananarivo and Mahajanga.

In collaboration with the mandated health authorities, the programme also provided hygiene education in schools, communities, and health centres, contributing towards sustainable behavioural change. And through our influencing work, we have seen a greater commitment towards school WASH programmes both at the local and national level.

Improving school WASH facilities

WSUP has been building on, improving, increasing the impact of the ‘WASH Friendly Institutions’ approach, that was developed by the Ministry of Education and its partners.

To receive a WASH friendly certificate from the Ministry, schools need to adhere to certain minimum standards such as providing access to clean water and safe sanitation facilities, separate toilets for boys and girls as well as those with special needs, handwashing facilities with soap, and menstrual hygiene management.

Before the project began, no schools were certified due to the complexity of the certification process. WSUP along with other stakeholders were consulted by the Ministry to improve and simplify the process.

Through the programme, eleven schools have been certified and the structures set in place will ensure the process is replicated and more schools are certified. This recognition incentivises the schools to continue to invest in WASH to maintain their status. In addition, 36 WASH blocks have been constructed or rehabilitated including in six secondary schools and 30 primary schools in Antananarivo and Mahajanga.

Improved sanitation block in a school in Antananarivo. Credit: Tsilavo Rapiera

The lack of gender-friendly WASH facilities means that young girls find it difficult to manage their hygiene needs and are discouraged from going to school. Through a user-centred design approach, the renovation and construction of sanitation blocks has taken into account the different needs of girls and boys.

To ensure that these facilities are run under a financially sustainable management model, school WASH committees have been set up in each school. The committee is responsible for ensuring proper management and maintenance of the WASH infrastructure and mobilising financial resources (from the Ministry and/or the parents association) for maintenance costs and for the provision of hygiene products.

Fifteen-year-old Rosia is one of the WASH ambassadors at her primary school. She monitors the students’ WASH practices and ensures the hygiene facilities are being used correctly.

“The new WASH facilities allow me to practice all the good hygiene behaviour I have been taught… I am now cleaner and more motivated to go to school. I am not afraid that I’ll be excluded due to poor hygiene,” she says.

Rosia using the new sanitation facilities in her school

Hygiene education

A total of 52,566 children were reached through hygiene messaging in schools. This involves training the students on the importance of handwashing with soap, how to use the newly constructed or refurbished toilet blocks correctly and understanding menstrual hygiene management.

A primary school student using the new handwashing station in her school. Credit: Tsilavo Rapiera

In Antananarivo, seventeen-year-old Tsanta actively creates awareness in her community after receiving training on menstrual hygiene management.

“Menstruation is something natural for girls and women and it is nothing to be ashamed of. The conversations between parents and children are very important. We should lead a proper and responsible lifestyle, especially during menstruation, because hygiene is a pillar of improving our health,” she says.

Tsanta creating awareness during an event in her school

Health centres

In addition, WSUP has been working in eight health centres in the catchment area of the schools to ensure that they have functioning and accessible WASH facilities. All the centres have now met all the minimum requirements set out by the Ministry, 299 community health workers have been trained on hygiene messaging, and 51,109 people have been reached through hygiene messaging in the communities and health centres.

Capacity building and influencing policy

WSUP has been working with stakeholders both at the local and national level to ensure long-term change.

WSUP’s intervention has had a positive impact on Sylvian, who is the Regional School Health Manager in the Regional Directorate of National Education (DREN) in Mahajanga. He noticed an improvement in his working method and now has a better understanding of the situation in schools through his relationship with teachers, pupils, and parents.

Sylvian speaking at an event in Madagascar in December 2020

“I am conscious of the magnitude of my mission which requires a change of behaviour at different levels and especially on the part of educators and students, … I am continually facing this burden linked to the lack of material and logistical resources, but I am not giving up. I would like to thank WSUP for all its support,” he says.

To help build the evidence base for increased and more effective government investment in WASH programmes, the project has also included a research component. Data was collected from 48 schools across Antananarivo, Mahajanga and Toliara to assess the impact of the WASH friendly school programme including impact of associated trainings, capacity bottlenecks and key factors that support behaviour change.

WSUP was able to contribute towards the WASH Friendly Institutions guide that was officially launched by the Ministry of Education earlier this year as well as the ‘WASH Friendly Institutions’ strategy which is included in the national WASH sector plan, thus encouraging more schools across the country become WASH friendly.

By working with schools, local communities and national authorities, this programme is bringing about long-term systemic change and helping improve the educational and health outcomes for children.

Learn more about our work in Madagascar

Top image: Primary school children using the handwashing facilities in school. Credit: Tsilavo Rapiera

State of the world’s hand hygiene report launched on Global Handwashing Day

14 October 2021 at 10:45

Global Handwashing Day, on 15 October, is the annual day dedicated to the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. … Read more

The post State of the world’s hand hygiene report launched on Global Handwashing Day appeared first on UN-Water.

Clean Hands Save Lives

13 October 2021 at 18:41

Sustaining Positive Handwashing Behavior Change During COVID-19 and Beyond

When the world was thrown into the unknown at the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, one thing remained true: handwashing is our first line of defense against the spread of infectious diseases. With nearly 2.3 billion people worldwide lacking access to clean water and soap in their homes, efforts to support communities and health facilities access handwashing resources became more important than ever.

In Indonesia, handwashing stations represent an important resource to reduce disease transmission. Photo credit: USAID/IUWASH PLUS

Healthcare providers and public health professionals have continued to reiterate the message that handwashing can help prevent illness. With such a focus on improving hygiene behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many communities have been able to improve handwashing to prevent not only COVID-19 infection, but other infectious diseases as well.

USAID has been a critical part of the effort to improve handwashing in homes, communities, and health care facilities worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

More than 11,000 households in 40 districts across Ethiopia have purchased handwashing stations as a result of Transform WASH’s (T/WASH) COVID-19 response interventions. Photo credit: Kedir Hassen, T/WASH

As part of USAID’s COVID-19 response efforts in Ethiopia, local partnerships with manufacturers of home handwashing products and a robust marketing campaign resulted in more than 11,000 handwashing stations purchased by households to date.

A woman washes her hands with a Generation One handwashing station in Benin. Photo credit: Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD)

In Benin, USAID’s Sanitation Service Delivery program teamed up with the Government of Benin’s COVID-19 task force, led handwashing campaigns within municipalities, and facilitated the delivery of handwashing systems, soaps, and hand sanitizer to homes. Through this partnership, USAID program staff worked alongside local authorities to launch COVID-19 awareness campaigns.

Access to handwashing resources in health care facilities is essential to provide quality, equitable health care but globally, globally, 42 percent of health care facilities do not have access to handwashing resources, and one in four health care facilities lack basic water services.

At a health post in Nepal, patients are required to wash their hands before entering to help limit the spread of infections, including COVID-19. Photo credit: DevWorks International

In response to COVID-19 and with USAID support, local committees in Nepal installed water drums and handwashing stations at health posts for patients to effectively wash hands with soap and water before entering. In addition, USAID built fully functioning water supply systems in 57 health posts across Nepal to assist health workers and patients in limiting the spread of infectious diseases through proper handwashing.

Handwashing education and COVID-19 awareness campaigns are a critical part of USAID’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Cote d’Ivoire, USAID supported a nationwide handwashing education campaign with the Ministry of Sanitation in markets, hospitals, and public places in 50 localities, reaching more than 10,000 people. USAID also partnered with 15 local radio stations, broadcasting more than 14,000 radio messages on the importance of safe hygiene practices.

In Indonesia, USAID worked to reduce the spread of the virus by partnering with community health clinics to share messaging about safe hygiene habits through mediums such as radio jingles and social media posts.

Women in Kaduna, Nigeria access water from a newly installed water source. Photo Credit: Donna Hobson, USADF

As part of Nigeria’s National WASH Response on COVID-19, USAID partnered with local telecommunication firms to share messaging about handwashing with millions of Nigerian cellphone users.

In order to build back better, sustained handwashing behaviors can help to limit the spread of all types of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, to keep communities healthy and thriving.

By Stephanie Mork, a Communications Analyst in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health

Ibu Eko and her son enjoy newly installed piped water services from the Sidoarjo District water utility, made possible through USAID support. Photo Credit: USAID/Indonesia

Clean Hands Save Lives was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Access to water and sanitation: the missing link in urban climate adaptation

12 October 2021 at 09:00

Ahead of COP26, WSUP has released a new report highlighting the importance of water and sanitation services in helping cities adapt to climate change.

Drawing on evidence from seven countries the report, entitled The missing link in climate adaptation: How improved access to water and sanitation is helping cities adapt to climate change finds that clean water and safe sanitation services have the potential to play a major role in helping the poorest urban communities adapt to climate change. However, they are often missed out of urban climate adaption efforts and more needs to be done to enable cities to expand these services.

Download the report

The report presents four recommendations for helping water and sanitation providers to respond effectively to the urgent threat posed by climate change:

  • Use every drop: cutting down on losses within city water networks to help cope with water scarcity
  • Protect the infrastructure: improving the design and management of facilities to enable them to withstand flooding and storms
  • Strengthen systems: clarifying and enforcing responsibilities for delivering services to the poorest and ensuring that climate risks are reflected in regulations, standards and financing frameworks
  • Integrate with wider city resilience: increasing coordination between improvements to water and sanitation services and other areas of urban development.

“Access to safe water and sanitation services is essential for people to lead healthy, productive lives,” said Neil Jeffery, Chief Executive of WSUP.

“Climate change is already causing significant damage to the ability of cities to provide equitable access to water and sanitation services, and these impacts will only worsen in coming years.”

“And yet, expansion and protection of water and sanitation services is not a core part of most cities’ adaptation work. This needs to change.”

Download the report

Want to find out more? In the coming weeks we will be delving into the report’s recommendations at www.wsup.com/the-missing-link.

UN Biodiversity Conference

11 October 2021 at 23:30

The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) will take place in two parts. The first part will take place in a virtual format, from 11-15 October 2021. The second part of COP … Read more

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State of Climate Services: Water

11 October 2021 at 10:43

The 2021 State of Climate Services: Water report was launched last week by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The high-level online event was attended by representatives of major organizations and … Read more

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Dissemination meeting on SWS learning partnership in Afar Region

7 October 2021 at 14:56
By: tsegaye

USAID Sustainable WASH Systems learning partnership project (SWS) conducted a document dissemination event in Afar region.

For the past five years (2017 – 2021) the SWS project has been working with Afar Region Water, Irrigation and Energy Bureau and Mille Woreda government and other actors to ensure effective WASH services access to everyone in the woreda. The project has been facilitating learning alliances as an entry point for collective action and to understand WASH service delivery systems, strengthening water infrastructure asset management systems and maintenance arrangement and develop a master plan which is targeted to deliver sustainable and improved WASH services to everyone by 2030.

SWS has been collaborating with USAID Lowland WASH activities during the implementation in Afar region.

In the event conducted on September 20, 2021, in the capital of Afar region, Semera, the discussants iterated that to create a robust and sustainable WASH system, all WASH sector actors from the woreda up to the region should be responsible and they should use the learnings and documents developed in the learning partnership so far. It is also suggested to expand the Mille Woreda's experience to other woredas of the region.

The dissemination event discussed the outcomes and learnings, and the documents developed during the project period are disseminated to the woreda WASH sector offices and the regional bureaus. The project published 11 learning alliance meeting reports, the Mille Woreda Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) WASH master plan, a briefing note on real – time monitoring for improved water services in the Ethiopian lowlands, a learning paper on Afar asset management system uptake and use, a research report on a local systems analysis for rural water service delivery in South Ari (SNNPR) and Mile (Afar), and a resource mobilisation and implementation strategy for the woreda’s SDG WASH master plan.

Major activities and the way forward

In its journey, the project has been supporting and strengthening Mille Woreda WASH monitoring systems, the establishment and facilitation of learning alliances, asset management and maintenance, long-term planning (district WASH master plan), institutional and human capacity building, and the knowledge management and documentation process.

In supporting the WASH monitoring system, the project has been developing and working on customisation of a WASH monitoring system, updating the system, and supplying computers and smart phones for monitoring.

To leverage maintenance and infrastructure management, the partnership has been promoting innovations in this field. The project also capacitated the woreda to develop a long-term plan, the SDG master plan, and to implement a financial plan and resource mobilisation strategy.

Institutional capacity building support was focused on training regional and woreda staff on monitoring, specifically on data collection, use and updating the system. Training on water scheme management and maintenance, WASH long-term planning (with coaching), and trainings and follow-up support on rural water supply for woredas, WASHCOs and caretakers were also major activities.

Regarding knowledge management, the main activities were capturing quarterly learning alliance meetings in reports, and documentation of practices such as monitoring, maintenance and long-term planning.

To sustain the progress so far, the discussion suggested continuing to utilise a regional asset management system, encouraging all WASH development partners working in the region to support and use the asset management system, continuing to implement Mille Woreda’s WASH SDG master plan, with the support of development partners, and persisting in facilitating the learning alliance meetings of the woreda.

Expertise and resources needed for inclusive and lasting water supply and sanitation : synthesis report

5 October 2021 at 16:47

Indian local government institutions responsible for rural water and sanitation services need long-term support. A summary of a thematic discussion and webinar.

Indian Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) - local government units - have been assigned the responsibility for executing rural water and sanitation. To do this successfully as equal partners with the government and engineers, they need a lot of support over the long term. The government and NGOs who will support them have important roles to play to ensure quality water and sanitation services are provided in the long term in an an equitable manner.

This report is a synthesis of a SuSanA India Chapter Thematic Discussion, which took place from 2 February-10 March 2021 and a follow-up webinar the chapter co-organised with IRC, India Sanitation Coalition and Water For People India and IRC on 4 March 2021.

From research to resilience – webinar series

5 October 2021 at 09:29

‘From research to resilience’ is a webinar series, running throughout October 2021, exploring the role of research and innovation in enhancing climate adaptation/mitigation, strengthening the resilience of food systems, protecting … Read more

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Water and Health Conference hosted online 4-8 October 2021

4 October 2021 at 10:09

The UNC Water and Health Conference is convened online 4-8 October 2021. This year’s event, themed ‘Science, Policy and Practice’, invites professionals everywhere to participate. A selection of sessions hosted … Read more

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Running dry: water scarcity and children in the Middle East and North Africa

30 September 2021 at 10:28

Water challenges in the Middle East and North Africa existed for thousands of years. However, the scale and impact of the crisis today is unprecedented. UNICEF’s new report, Running Dry: … Read more

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Sanitation innovation through user-centred design in Ethiopia

28 September 2021 at 17:45

A workshop delivers prototypes of more affordable sanitation products that meet the needs of lower income households in Lowland Ethiopia.

Written by: Ayatam Simeneh, Dagim Demirew and Mesfin H/Mariam

The Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, a lowland area, poses unique sanitation market development challenges. The region significantly outperforms the country as a whole in access to improved sanitation at 26 percent of households (EDHS 2019) versus seven percent nationally (JMP 2019).  By contrast, Somali households practise open defecation at persistently higher than national rates at 49 percent versus 32 percent, respectively.   

According to our business development team in the Somali region, sanitation product offerings in the local market are limited mostly to full toilet construction options.  These products are expensive, ranging from 7,000 to 15,000 Ethiopian birr (ETB) each, so businesses cater to the wealthiest households, whose strong demand results in the higher-than-national improved sanitation rate.  On the other end of the wealth spectrum, in contrast with other regions, households with no toilet tend to reject self-construction options (e.g., through CLTSH) and aspire to a higher standard of sanitation facility.  Unfortunately, businesses fail to offer products that meet this demand, which is driven by local culture.  

To explore more about the reasons behind the different contexts in the Somali region and to offer some solutions, the USAID Transform WASH team led a workshop using user-centred design principles to come up with more affordable sanitation products that meet the needs of lower income households.  The workshop gathered numerous community members selected for their local knowledge, expertise, and experience. Participants came from all parts of the Somali region and included: community members; masons; professionals from technical, vocational, and educational training (TVET) institutes, including construction workers and wood and metal works instructors; health extension workers, and health officials.   

User-centred design workshops consist of three major steps: observation, ideation, and prototyping.  To prepare the participants, workshop facilitators started with an interactive orientation, which included “speed-dating,” so participants could get to know each other, and a simple co-design exercise in which participants designed a shoe for one of the facilitators. These activities engaged the participants and helped get them into the “design mindset.”  The team then proceeded to core activities, beginning with observation. 

Observation Phase: Facilitators initiated a discussion about the participants’ general sanitation situation and regional context. They then delved deeper into the status of household sanitation.  To guide their observations and perspectives, facilitators presented them with demographic, socioeconomic and geographic data, and information about existing market opportunities and barriers.

Participants presenting discussion results from the observation phase

Participants presenting discussion results from the observation phase

Ideation:  In this phase, participants began to formulate concrete ideas and designs for affordable sanitation products. Participants were divided into groups that mixed professions and backgrounds. Each group formulated and presented their initial design ideas, shaped by traditional, cultural, and religious contexts.  The other groups provided feedback to improve ideas and guide the presenters toward their stated objectives. Privacy, easy cleaning, and water availability were the most common and important issues discussed.  Masons, who have ample experience constructing toilets, raised issues related to soil type and ventilation as critical aspects of toilet design.  Community members also suggested raising footrests to prevent splashing and emphasised the importance of shade from the sun.

Throughout the feedback session, brainstorming continued, ideas grew clearer, and more mature opinions started to form. At this stage, participants began to express their ideas more easily, including with drawings. As part of the activity, participants created sketch models of their designs using paper, glue, and other modelling materials. Each group presented their sketch model to the rest of the participants, who offered another round of feedback and reflections on affordability, ventilation, and other important features.  

Sketch model development Sketch model development

Sketch model development

Prototyping: In this phase, the groups agreed on sketches that they all deemed promising and started creating practical prototypes. They listed material needs to construct their products and assessed the local availability of the materials by estimating revised costs of the toilet which ranged from ETB 5,000 to 10,000. Then each group built a prototype, including the following models:    

Direct pit latrine design - the first team designed a direct pit toilet with a corrugated iron sheet superstructure for the Degabur woreda context. Soil collapse is not a problem in this area, so the group developed a latrine type in which the seat floor was located directly over the septic tank. 

Offset pit latrine design with wood - the Gursum area of the Somali region is prone to soil collapse. Therefore, the second team designed an offset pit latrine design, which would stabilise the area around the toilet. The design also included a wooden superstructure to increase affordability as inexpensive wood is available locally.  

Offset pit latrine design with sheet metal superstructure - the third team developed a toilet with a metal sheet superstructure for the Ararso woreda. This toilet differed from the offset latrine of the Gursum team as it used a metal superstructure rather than wood because of customer preferences in that area.

Direct pit and offset latrine prototypes Direct pit and offset latrine prototypes

Direct pit and offset latrine prototypes

Once the prototypes were completed, the teams tested the designs by presenting them in a nearby rural community. The design teams went from house to house explaining the design concepts and collecting feedback, which was subsequently incorporated into the product designs.  

The final step in the process was to refine the designs so that working prototypes could be constructed in the field.  Building and installing the prototypes will advance the training of masons, enable more testing with households, and help the team develop product and service delivery models.  Ultimately, if product prototypes are successful, they will be produced at scale and made available locally, addressing customer needs and meeting demand for improved sanitation in the Somali region.

IAHR Young Professionals Congress

27 September 2021 at 09:45

The IAHR Young Professionals Congress gives young professionals, researchers and students the opportunity to present their work and access mentoring from leading global experts. IAHR is the International Association for … Read more

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