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Before yesterday1. Water

Communities aren't enemies, we should harness their capacity

December 3rd 2020 at 08:35

Exploring the links between community activism, service providers and Self-supply.

As so many global webinars these days are starting to look and feel the same, it's nice to be invited to more national and local events. Recently I had the pleasure to participate in the Socio-Economic Rights Institute's (SERI) webinar on an incredible case study from South Africa in the town of Harrismith. Ex-IRC staffer Alana Potter and her team at SERI are working hard to highlight the municipal service delivery crisis in South Africa and the challenges of implementation even when you have good law, policies and, compared to neighbours, better capacities.

What I found so interesting about this case was that it is a microcosm for so many of the issues that IRC cares about, at the same time, and all in one town. It touches on improving service levels from piped systems, reaching the poor and marginalised with services, local government performance, collective action and the role of civil society. You get most of that in the short news video below, as the case also hit the headlines in South Africa.

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The reason I got invited was to make a link between community activism and Self-supply, which is possible if stretching the definition of Self-supply. In a forthcoming book by Sally Sutton, there are many notable examples of households and communities doing things for themselves. That includes the 40% of water supplies in the rural US that are self-financed, the women's movement in Ireland that propelled the country to increase piped access by five times over 10 years, or the perhaps 300 million or more people in Sub-Saharan Africa, who rely today on Self-supply. The level of effort put in by people helping themselves tends to be underestimated almost everywhere.

Of course, we also have to point out for balance that communities will not do everything for themselves, especially if the models are externally developed and driven. We now look at unsupported community management of rural water supplies as a failure.

Harrismith is a town with a piped water network and infrastructure clearly owned by the municipality. So, it's not really Self-supply as we use the term. Stepping in to repair vital infrastructure, an alliance of local farmers and community activists got the water flowing again in the town, but not in a way that is envisioned in those fine water laws and policies. We heard in the webinar how procurement rules have generally not stopped crooks stealing, but do stop municipalities from reaching out to work with communities. The only option the municipality really has under the critical section 78 of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act is to outsource service delivery to a private company. There is a gap in allowing community involvement, with laws making partnerships complicated.

So, the community in Harrismith had to step over the line to get their water back. Doing that might be considered wrong by some , but is surely better than blocking the nearby highway, which was an earlier tactic. How to harness local capacities and the interests of the community is not only the critical issue in Harrismith, but also in Self-supply affecting those 300 million across Sub-Saharan Africa. Those efforts have been ignored while sector professionals designed and pushed what we thought were better solutions like handpumps and community water committees. There is another lesson from Harrismith too. Piped water schemes can fail and fail badly. But there are always solutions available too.

In August 2020, SERI, in partnership with End Water Poverty, launched research documenting lessons and experiences from water rights claiming by residents and social movements in South Africa. Read the blog by Alana Potter (SERI) on water rights in South Africa.

UN-Water Joint Statement: 31st Special Session of the General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

December 1st 2020 at 18:12

A Special Session of the General Assembly in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic is hosted 3-4 December 2020, at the United Nations headquarters, New York. Today UN-Water issued … Read more

The post UN-Water Joint Statement: 31st Special Session of the General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic appeared first on UN-Water.

Reflecting on the COVID-19 response project in Malawi

December 2nd 2020 at 12:14

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the CCAP SMART Centre in Malawi set-up a project to provide handwashing stations to public places around Mzuzu, such as markets, hospitals and schools. The project has been carried out and one of the staff members reflects on the approach in the video after the ‘read more’.

Thanks to Wilde Ganzen, Wierda Baas Foundation, Rotary Apeldoorn ‘t Loo, the SMART Centre Foundation and De Gevulde Waterkruik for their support.

RWSN/ REACH consultancy opportunities: your questions answered

December 2nd 2020 at 10:49
On 30.11.2020 RWSN advertised two consultancies in partnership with the University of Oxford under the REACH programme (deadline for applications: 8th January 2020). The Terms of Reference for the consultancies are below: Researcher – Global Diagnostic on Rural Water Services Rural Water Marketing Intelligence Expert We have received a number of questions in relation to … Continue reading "RWSN/ REACH consultancy opportunities: your questions answered"

REACH Kitui

ruralwaternetwork

Watershed Ghana partners host end-of-project event in Accra

December 1st 2020 at 10:03
By: awumbei

The Watershed end-of-project meeting highlighted the contributions to WASH/IWRM improvements in Ghana and discussed partnerships beyond the project.

A strong civil society is essential for improving water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and Water Resource Management (WRM) governance, which remains a challenge in achieving universal access to sustainable services.

In the last 5 years, Watershed empowering citizens strategic partnership has been working to increase local CSO / citizen empowerment and engagement with government for WASH and WRM prioritisation, integration, and equitable financing. The strategic partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IRC, Simavi, Wetlands International and Akvo worked in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Mali, India, Bangladesh, and The Netherlands.

The programme in Ghana involved local CSO partners including, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Hope for Future Generation, Conservation Foundation and Ghana WATSAN Journalist Network.

The Watershed Ghana partnership has delivered many improvements in the governance and management of water resources and WASH services through evidence-based advocacy and strengthened the capacity of local civil society organizations.

With the project closed-up in September 2020, the Watershed Ghana partners hosted the end-of-project event in October 2020 to highlight the contributions of the project towards WASH and WRM improvements in Ghana and to identify and leverage partnerships beyond the project.

Find out more from this video

The rise or fall of the manual drilling sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo

December 1st 2020 at 09:46
This is a guest blog by RWSN Member Dr Cheikh Hamidou Kane. This article was originally published in GeoDrilling international and is reposted with thanks. You can read the original article here. Despite the fact that 50% of Africa’s water fresh water resources are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Congolese, especially … Continue reading "The rise or fall of the manual drilling sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo"

cheikh

ruralwaternetwork

World Toilet Day – November 19th

November 23rd 2020 at 10:52

Since 2013, the 19th of November is celebrated as World Toilet Day. This years’ theme of the official celebrations was ‘Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’.

One of the ways in which the SMART Centres contribute towards access to a toilet or latrine is offering a range of options such as zero cement ‘corbelled latrines’ and SaTopans or Flapper. See also the overview of Sanitation Technologies.

Another interesting set of resources are the timelines with the NICC Foundation is developing. Recently two WASH timelines have been added to the collection. Check them on the website of NICC.

Water-smart, inclusive, and integrated: ways to climate-proof sanitation systems

November 19th 2020 at 09:45

What have toilets got to do with climate change? This World Toilet Day, WSUP is highlighting how climate change is placing a growing strain on urban sanitation systems, and looks at ways to improve the climate resiliency of services to the poorest.

Climate change is threatening sanitation systems in cities. Droughts in southern Africa have led to questions over the suitability of water intensive sewer systems, and a growing realisation that other forms of sanitation which use less water may be more effective.

In countries such as Kenya, Mozambique and Bangladesh, climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of flooding which can damage toilets and spread harmful waste through communities.

What can cities do to ensure that everyone has access to safe sanitation in the face of an ever-changing climate?

WSUP has identified three ways to tackle the issue:

Water-smart sanitation systems

In urban areas, traditional sewered sanitation systems use a lot of water. As water availability reduces, so the importance of making best use of existing water resources increases. With a 50% increase in urban water demands forecast for the next 30 years, the systems that made sense 50 years ago may no longer be fit for the future.

In the informal settlement of Mukuru in Nairobi, one of the biggest slums in Kenya, simplified sewers that use much less water than conventional sewerage are being introduced by the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC).

In some places hit by droughts, such as in southern Zambia, water providers are forced to rely more on groundwater – but in urban settings, groundwater is often polluted by unmanaged sanitation.

Peri-urban community Livingstone
A peri-urban community in Livingstone, Zambia

Southern Water & Sanitation Company Limited (SWSC), the utility responsible for serving customers across 13 districts containing several urban centres, has understood the need to focus more on providing onsite sanitation, particularly to those marginalised communities who live outside of the central urban areas where sewers are not available. As well as improving access to sanitation for people living in peri-urban communities, this work aims to improve water quality for everyone.

Read the full report here – Building resilience to climate change: experiences from southern Zambia

Citywide inclusive sanitation

Poorly designed sanitation systems result in harmful germs being spread through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.

The Ngong river passes through the Mukuru settlement and every time it rains, there is regular flooding in the entire settlement. The floodwater mixes with faecal waste from the latrines which then finds its way into people’s homes.

New research commissioned by WSUP is revealing the extent of the problem of faecal waste in communities. A study in one low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh, shows the alarmingly high frequency of germs in low-income urban communities suffering from inadequate sanitation.

The research found that health outcomes can be significantly improved with well-managed, closed drains and, when safely managed, fully sealed containment systems are in place and frequently emptied. Though the research is specific to Dhaka, it has relevance for other cities that are facing similar issues.

Clara Mariano (pictured above) is a resident of Chipangrara in Beira, one of many areas in Mozambique affected by increased flooding due to climate change. Poor drainage means that when the area floods her yard fills with wastewater, exposing her family to dangerous diseases.

“The water flow is a mess, I protected my yard but nothing seems to have worked, the yard is usually flooded with water, it is extremely difficult to live under such conditions.”

Following the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, WSUP has been working to deliver sustainable, long-term water and sanitation solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change for thousands of low-income residents in Beira.

Read more in this blog – Climate recovery in Beira: sustainable water and sanitation access for a more resilient city

Integrated approach to urban development

Where urban communities flood, fragile toilet infrastructure can easily be damaged, causing residents to have to rebuild in the wake of floods. It is often the poorest residents, who can least afford it, who live in the areas most vulnerable to heavy rains and see their facilities damaged. This also has a major impact on people’s health, dignity and well-being.

Flooding in Rangpur

Cities like Rangpur in Bangladesh are experiencing rainfall at an unprecedented level over the last couple of years, leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities. In September, 433mm of rain fell in 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.

Read this story here – How climate change is worsening sanitation in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Tackling the climate change impacts on sanitation in disadvantaged communities will require a coordinated effort with other urban service providers. Residents who are unable to afford safe emptying services have no choice but to dump sanitation waste in open drains and rivers, contaminating the entire water cycle.

An open sewer in Githima, Nakuru county, Kenya

Without rubbish collection services, solid waste blocks up drains, and stormwater builds up in these channels, spreading filthy water through communities. It is therefore vital for sanitation to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management services.

Too much water or too little water – climate change is damaging people’s ability to have access to safe sanitation.

But with the right action, WSUP believes that cities can ensure that the poorest, most vulnerable people have access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.

Read more about WSUP’s work on climate change

Top image: Melita Zeca lives in the cyclone-hit area of Beira where there isn’t safe and affordable waste collection services thus affecting the health of the residents. 

Good progress at the building site of the Jacana SMART Centre, Zambia

November 19th 2020 at 09:01

Jacana is building a new Jacana Business Centre in Chipata, Zambia. The Jacana SMART Centre will be integrated in this building together with the activities around beekeeping, business training and sustainable agriculture.

Jacana is combining the building of the Business Centre with the training of bricklayers, which will be certified by TEVETA, after successfully completing the exam in April.

So far the fence has been build and a borehole has been drilled. Also the foundation for the office has been constructed.

For a full update, visit the website of the Jacana SMART Centre.

Overview of the building site

How climate change is worsening sanitation in Rangpur, Bangladesh

November 17th 2020 at 13:52

For residents like Samsuddin Mia (pictured above), access to a safe and decent toilet is vital in the wake of extreme weather conditions.

Long and heavy rains from June to December are not an uncommon occurrence for residents living in northern parts of Bangladesh.

However, over the last couple of years, cities like Rangpur in the region have experienced rainfall at an unprecedented level during the monsoon season leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities.

In September alone, the city witnessed 433mm of rain in a span of 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.

In some areas, there was water logging for nearly fifteen days. The poorest have suffered the most forcing them to move out of their homes and seek refuge with their relatives in nearby areas or in emergency shelters where more than 100 people have access to one toilet.

WSUP is currently working in 10 primary schools for improvements of school sanitation facilities and in their catchment communities in Rangpur. All these communities are situated in the low-lying areas of the city which were under water for three days.

Construction of sanitation facilities on hold as the primary school in Kamarpara is affected by the floods

The aftermath of the floods has left already poor sanitation structures extremely vulnerable, impacting people’s health, dignity and well-being.

Flood water in a resident’s home

Ms Marjina, a resident from Kamarpara – one of the worst affected low-income communities’ said: “the investment for a toilet is too high compared to our financial status. Yet we chose to invest as we know this will bring good health – but reinvesting every year might not be possible for us and many might choose to go back to unimproved options.”

With the unusual rain patterns over the last two years, many residents of this community agree, assuming that this will continue to happen over the coming years.

Another major problem affecting the city is the waste collection systems that are poorly designed, resulting in harmful germs spreading through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.

Research recently conducted by ITN-BUET and WSUP found that 45% of toilets in Rangpur have faulty containment systems, many of which were connected to open drains which then mixed with the external environment.

Open drains like the one pictured above are common in Rangpur

The floods in Kamarpara saw sanitation waste from the septic tanks mixing with the floodwater leading to health problems like diarrhoea, dysentery and other skin diseases among the residents.

The picture is not very different in other cities in Bangladesh and it is the poorest who are the worst affected by climate change.

As we mark World Toilet Day this week, we need to act now to ensure that everyone has access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.

To tackle the impacts of flooding in disadvantaged communities, city authorities need to place more focus on developing climate resilient services for the poorest to ensure communities are healthy and functioning.

Improved toilet construction and ensuring drains are closed rather than open can help. Sanitation also needs to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management programmes to help reduce the health impacts of poor sanitation in times of heavy rain or flooding.

Even without climate change, access to sanitation in vulnerable urban communities is extremely low in Bangladesh. But with climate change ramping up, and increasing the risk of flooding across the country, living conditions for the poorest may get even worse without concerted action.

Find out more about WSUP's work on climate change

Learn more about our work in Bangladesh

 

IAHR host Young Professionals online Congress

November 16th 2020 at 08:19

The International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) is organising a Young Professionals online Congress on 17-18 November 2020. The Congress will take place online and is free and open … Read more

The post IAHR host Young Professionals online Congress appeared first on UN-Water.

10 years of progress washed away

November 11th 2020 at 13:03
By: Smits

Honduras HUrricane Eta

In the wake of Hurricane Eta, IRC and Water For People support government appeal and call for immediate action to restore a decade's worth of water and sanitation development in Honduras.

Article jointly written by Stef Smits, Country Coordinator, IRC Honduras and Túpac Mejía Country Director, Water For People Honduras.

Over the last few days, while the eyes of the world were focused on the elections in the USA, further south, a disaster had happened. Hurricane Eta hit Central America. It left a trail of destruction, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It reminded us of hurricane Mitch which hit these countries back in 1998. Fortunately, Eta was less deadly. So far, the victims number in the hundreds, while Mitch took the lives of 11,000 people. The material damage, however, is just as big. In Honduras alone, the estimated damage is US$ 5 billion.

As organisations that have been working on water supply and sanitation in the region, we saw several years of progress washed away. Though a full inventory of the damages is underway, the first reports from the three municipalities with whom we have worked most closely, show a severe impact. The situation is likely to be similar in many other municipalities. In 2012, the municipality of Chinda celebrated being the first municipality in Honduras to achieve universal access to water supply. Now the town’s drinking water supply is heavily damaged as part of the town was flooded. San Antonio de Cortés saw heavy damages to 33 of the 45 village water supplies. Communication with the municipality officials of El Negrito has not been fully established. So far 13 communities, including the main town, have reported damages. We expect this number to go up as we receive reports from the more remote communities with whom we have worked over the years to provide services. Across the three municipalities, this means a drop in the level of access to water supplies from 97% prior to Eta to 58%, affecting 40,000 out of the 75,000 people living in these three municipalities.

Aerial view of destruction

These are heart-breaking figures. Behind each of these statistics are villagers who worked hard to construct these systems; community leaders and politicians who mobilised the necessary resources; and users who rejoiced in getting water and sanitation services for the first time.

Efforts are being undertaken by the Government of Honduras, municipalities and NGOs to address the situation by providing filters and undertaking quick repairs. Honduras is especially vulnerable to natural disasters and hence has a reasonably well-developed emergency response system. We are confident that – in spite of everything – the immediate needs can be addressed.

More worrisome are the needed repairs, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The amount of money and, above all, time these communities, towns and municipalities had put into getting water and sanitation to everyone, are enormous. Ten years of hard work have been undone. And we cannot bring back that time.

But we also cannot just let 10 years of progress get undone. We need to get behind the communities and municipalities affected by Eta, and make sure that they get their water supplies back and functioning as they were before Eta hit. The Government of Honduras has made an appeal to the international community for support in its recovery and reconstruction efforts.

We fully support this appeal and will do what is in our power to help out. Through the Para Todos, Por Siempre partnership, we are working closely with the Government to inventory the damages to water supply and sanitation systems. Also, we are supporting the coordination and exchange of information in doing these inventories and the planning of repair works.

We call upon our partners, funders and friends to respond to the appeal made by the Government of Honduras and do whatever is in your power to make sure that 10 years of progress dis not washed away for good but is quickly re-instated.

In response to this urgent need, all donations received in November will go towards reconstruction efforts in Honduras.

Act now

IRC launches new partnership with Kabarole District

November 11th 2020 at 11:02

New project on supporting WASH in healthcare facilities in the fight against COVID-19.

Fort Portal, Kabarole, UGANDA. 11 November 2020 - IRC Uganda today launches a new project with Kabarole District Local Government to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 through strengthening water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities.

IRC has through funding of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supported Kabarole District to achieve universal access to WASH through the Safe Water Strategy since 2018. In March 2020 when Uganda confirmed the first COVID-19 case, both the WASH and healthcare sectors experienced immense pressure as services that were essential in prevention and control of the spread of the infection were limited. IRC responded through support to Kabarole District Health Office with various interventions including emergency provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers; improvement of sanitation and hand hygiene facilities in health centres; provision of drinking water kits to healthcare facilities and Infection Prevention and Control mentorships, among others.

"The pandemic has made obvious what we knew all along: that water, sanitation and hygiene are the first line of defence against many infections. As we embrace the new normal, full coverage of WASH services in all institutions is a must, starting with healthcare facilities" – Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC Uganda.

The one-year project implemented with USD 154,000 funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will deliver long-term interventions in infection prevention and control including COVID-19, through strengthening the district healthcare system and modelling comprehensive WASH in healthcare services.

"This partnership between IRC and Kabarole District is in line with IRC's goal to strengthen district capacities to provide lasting WASH services for all," says Ms. Mulumba. "We are making a deliberate statement that while COVID-19 has hit us hard, future resilience and sustainability of healthcare service delivery can only be guaranteed by good governance and management of water, sanitation and hygiene services in healthcare facilities."

Kabarole District will with this funding increase awareness about COVID-19 prevention and response efforts through risk communications and hygiene promotion; strengthen protection and safety of healthcare workers through provision of PPE and mentorship in infection and prevention control; and articulate standard WASH governance and management of healthcare facilities through model healthcare centres. The funding will also support capacity strengthening of the district health teams and healthcare workers for sustained WASH engagement and behaviour change.

Member in the Spotlight: Manushya Foundation | The community-led class action lawsuit fighting gold-mining in Phichit, Thailand

November 1st 2020 at 00:00
By: editor
Member in the Spotlight: Manushya Foundation | The community-led class action lawsuit fighting gold-mining in Phichit, Thailand editor 1 November 2020 - 00:00

Improving sanitation services a top priority, according to study of under-served urban residents

October 29th 2020 at 17:30

As we mark World Cities Day 2020 on Saturday, new research from WSUP shines light on the complex needs of marginalised communities in cities.

The analysis rated 17 differing services in Accra, Ghana, and Nairobi, Kenya and found that, consistently, residents placed sanitation services close to the top.

Surprisingly, there have been few dedicated studies into needs from the perspectives of the residents themselves. But, as WSUP seeks to promote water and sanitation services that are more integrated within wider developments, increasing this understanding is vital.

In Accra, residents placed flood control as the most important, with sanitation coming fourth top out of 17 different services. In Nairobi, sanitation was ranked top, above other issues such as street paving and water supply. Water supply was seen as less important in Accra, potentially because residents were already relatively satisfied with their service compared to other needs.

Read more on the research project from Guy Norman:

What do slumdwellers want?

Service improvement priorities of slumdwellers in Ghana & Kenya

Guy Norman PhD

Guy Norman was previously WSUP’s Director of Research, and is currently MD and Lead Consultant of Urban Research Ltd.

WSUP is about water and sanitation. But slums have other big problems that need fixing, not just water and sanitation. Often, these problems inter-relate: for example, it may be difficult and costly to lay a water pipe network in a slum because streets are irregular and narrow, and because land ownership is not clearly documented. Similarly, safe sanitation may be made more difficult when domestic garbage collection services are poor: garbage gets thrown into latrines and toilets, and it blocks up street drains, making seasonal flooding worse.

Things also inter-relate in more technical ways. The recent MapSan evaluation of the health impact of a WSUP sanitation intervention in Maputo (Mozambique) is the most rigorous study to date of the health impacts of urban sanitation. This study found that WSUP’s intervention had no direct impact on child health, though an encouraging effect was observed on the prevalence of some faecal pathogens in children born during the study period.

It’s certainly not that the intervention was bad: the researchers evaluated intervention delivery as excellent. But this study strongly suggests that sanitation improvements on their own are not going to be sufficient to break faecal-oral disease transmission pathways in slums: in other words, it seems likely that sanitation improvements in slums are necessary but not sufficient for achieving substantial health gains.

It seems very likely that impacting on faecal-oral disease burdens requires other parallel interventions: for example, better drinking water quality, better food hygiene, perhaps street and compound paving. Honestly, at this stage we don’t really know what! But water and sanitation interventions certainly need to tie more closely to wider slum improvements.

Against this backdrop, what do slumdwellers themselves want? What basic services do they consider most important? Surprisingly little is known about this: there have been few systematic studies in this area.

So under the 2016-2020 Urban Sanitation Research Initiative (USRI), WSUP delivered a study of slumdweller prioritisations of basic services in Nairobi (Kenya) and Accra (Ghana). It was an exciting project for us: it was the first significant piece of research delivered internally within WSUP (all other research projects under USRI were commissioned to external research teams).

Specifically, we aimed to assess what types of basic service improvement are prioritised by slumdwellers; to understand the extent to which prioritisations vary among cities and communities; and to explore whether prioritisations are associated with possible predictors (including current service level, gender and tenure status). We stress that we did NOT set out to “demonstrate” the importance of water and/or sanitation, and we took multiple measures to avoid bias.

Kaptagat Chairman who helped with community mobilization of landlords buy in the project

How did we design the study?

To start with, we developed a list of basic urban services, then refined this through focus group discussions in Nairobi and Accra, and interviews with expert informants (like municipal planners). We ended up with the following list of 17 services:

  • Administrative support with tenure rights
  • Air pollution control
  • Education (primary, secondary)
  • Electricity supply
  • Environment: clean rivers, public spaces
  • Fire-fighting services
  • Flood control & storm drains
  • Garbage removal, street cleaning, pest control
  • Healthcare (clinics, health visitors) Housing build quality
  • Street paving
  • Policing & crime prevention
  • Roads and transport outside community
  • Sanitation: toilets, pit-emptying, sewers
  • Social care (elderly, disabled…)
  • Street lighting within community
  • Water supply

Having developed this comprehensive list, we then designed large-scale household surveys in Nairobi and Accra, aiming to understand prioritisations. We interviewed about 3,000 respondents in each city: this very large sample size allowed us to generate whole-city data, but also statistically reliable data for 8 sub-areas within each city. The surveys covered pretty much all low-income settlements in each city, ranging from “extreme” slums to less extreme moderate-low-income areas. We used a sampling approach called systematic spatial sampling.

The questionnaire comprised various sections, but let’s here focus on the questions around basic services. We didn’t want to present respondents with a long and tedious list of 17 services, so instead we designed and printed cards, one representing each service (the photo shows only 10 cards, but respondents were given all 17).

Cards representing basic services

We asked respondents “Please put the cards into four groups, depending on whether you consider the current service level to be non-existent or poor or adequate or good”.

We then asked: “If the authorities were to invest money in this community, which 5 services do you think should be prioritised?”

So which services were most highly prioritised?

The 5 most frequently prioritised services in Accra were:

  1. Flood control (50% of respondents)
  2. Garbage removal (48%)
  3. Housing quality (48%)
  4. Sanitation (41%)
  5. Social care (39%)

The 5 most frequently prioritised services in Nairobi were:

  1. Sanitation (49% of respondents)
  2. Street paving (47%)
  3. Water supply (46%)
  4. Environment (44%)
  5. Garbage removal (43%)

So we can see that Sanitation and Garbage removal were considered top priorities in both Accra and Nairobi. But Water supply was considered a top priority only in Nairobi.

What about variation WITHIN cities? We don’t have space to go into that here but briefly: there was variation in prioritisations among sub-areas within each city, but in general the same broad patterns were seen across the whole city.

Analysis of association between prioritisation and other variables

The graph below shows a plot for Nairobi of average service prioritisation score (blue) against average respondent perception of current service level (orange):

Graph showing average service prioritisation in Nairobi

From the plot, we can see some indication of a negative association. In order to explore this in a more rigorous statistical way, we used logistic regression to assess whether there were statistical associations between service prioritisation and other respondent/household characteristics (including respondent’s perception of current service level, poverty level, and gender). No space here to explain the analysis in detail: full details in our forthcoming research article.

As expected, there was often an ordered pattern of association between prioritisation of a service and respondent’s perception of the current level of that service. Considering for example Street paving in Accra: by comparison with respondents who rated the current situation as “excellent”:

  • respondents rating Street paving as “adequate” were about 5 times more likely to prioritise this service
  • respondents rating Street paving as “poor” were about 46 times more likely to prioritise it
  • respondents rating Street paving as “non-existent” were about 51 times more likely to prioritise it

These are big effects, indicating very clear association.

But it wasn’t always so simple: for many services, counter-intuitively, people who rated current level of Service X as “poor” prioritised that service more highly than people who rated current level of that service as “non-existent”… perhaps because they didn’t expect that service?

The full association findings are too complex to describe here. But we briefly note an interesting finding, which is that respondent gender showed few strong associations: for example, no association between gender and prioritisation of healthcare.

Clothes hanging to dry_ Githima

Conclusions: simply stated

  • Sanitation and garbage removal were among the 5 most frequently prioritised services in both Accra and Nairobi
  • Water supply was among the 5 most frequently prioritised services in Nairobi, but not in Accra
  • Other highly prioritised services included flood control, housing quality and social care in Accra, and street paving and environment in Nairobi
  • But this certainly does NOT mean that lower-prioritised services are unimportant!

What does this mean?

  • Systematic studies of this type can be of value for informing urban planning at the city level: community prioritisation should probably not be the only factor in investment decision-making, but it’s an important factor.
  • If systematic studies of this type were extended across a wider sample of cities, it seems likely that more generalisable conclusions might emerge, of potential value to wider thinking about urban development.
  • And finally: a multi-services perspective of this type ties to the view that urban water and sanitation shouldn’t be expected to impact on health and wellbeing in isolation: they need to tie to wider improvements in basic services and quality of the urban environment.

Learn more about WSUP's approach to creating sustainable cities

Partnership development in an alliance for increased impact

October 29th 2020 at 09:01
By: Grift

Documenting the processes used to develop strong partnerships among NGOs and sharing some lessons learned about partnership development in an alliance in Ethiopia.

Water station in Ethiopia

Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) has been implementing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in rural Ethiopia since 2004 to improve WASH service delivery. By convening members and partners, MWA has worked collaboratively to provide WASH services for more than two million rural Ethiopians in several regions. MWA has been using the collective impact framework to support greater impact by organisations working together rather than separately.

MWA convened and led a short-term, 2017-2019, programme titled, Bridge Program, funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (Hilton Foundation). This work involved the MWA secretariat serving as the hub, IRC WASH providing technical support, and six WASH NGOs including CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Hungry, Helvetas, WaterAid, and World Vision providing the on-the-ground implementation work and collaborative long-term planning with district governments. One of the key deliverables of this programme was to develop strong partnerships both among the NGOs collaborating on the ground and with key government partners.

Contributing to Ethiopia’s nation-wide vision of achievement of SDG6

The long-term goal of this work was to contribute to Ethiopia’s nation-wide achievement of safe, affordable, and sustainable water service delivery by 2030. This requires working together and in a supportive role with the government which has the mandate to provide improved WASH services. Given the nature of the SDGs and the type of systems strengthening work required to achieve them, new ways of working and new approaches are needed. Trying to make this type of progress without trust and strong partnerships seem impossible. Additionally, there is a specific intention to ensure that innovations and methods that are proven successful get replicated in the work of partner organisations beyond this specific programme. Successful replication beyond a programme is more likely through existing and trusted relationships.

The Learning Brief has documented the processes used to develop strong partnerships among NGOs and shares some lessons learned along the way. It focuses exclusively on the development of partnerships and the use of the collective impact framework across a group of NGOs working on this joint programme. The paper discusses the activities conducted by MWA to develop trust and partnership across a group of NGOs; the methods used to engage in collective impact, and the lessons learned about partnership development in an alliance.

This paper can be found online at www.mwawater.org and was published in 2020. It is made possible through support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Realising rural communities' rights to safe water in Tanzania

October 27th 2020 at 09:30
By: editor
Realising rural communities' rights to safe water in Tanzania editor 27 October 2020 - 09:30

Over 100 civil society organisations stand behind UN Special Rapporteur Léo Heller, denounce private water industry interference

October 21st 2020 at 16:45
By: editor
Over 100 civil society organisations stand behind UN Special Rapporteur Léo Heller, denounce private water industry interference editor 21 October 2020 - 17:45

She Makes Change - an update

October 19th 2020 at 09:09

COVID-19 has forced the women in Odisha to postpone the workshops that IRC raised funds for during the 'She Makes Change' campaign.

Women have more acute needs due to cultural and biological roles, and a lack of services is often at the cost of their health, education, employment and participation in politics and society. Therefore, it is important that women have a say in WASH decision making. On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8th 2020, IRC raised funds for women to ensure their voices were heard.

The ‘She Makes Change’ campaign successfully raised €2,868.25 for capacity building of women in the state of Odisha in India. The funds will be used to organise a series of workshops to provide foundational knowledge and skills to women in Ganjam district of Odisha, to enable them to assert their rights as citizens and participate in local government decision making.

Originally scheduled to be held in the months of June and July 2020, these workshops have not yet been organised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of corona cases in India has been on the rise since early this year. At 7,307,097, India is currently the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. However, in terms of number of daily cases, it has the highest in the world (on 15 October).

The strict lockdown enforced by the Government of India in March 2020 gave rise to a wave of reverse migration. A significant proportion of the working age population in Ganjam works as migrants in the textile mills of Surat in the state of Gujarat. With the closure of the mills, high rate of infection, loss of employment and poor living conditions in the industrial town, the migrants returned to Ganjam. It is estimated that over a million migrants returned to the district in the pandemic.

The return of the migrants to Ganjam has led to a massive surge in corona cases in the state of Odisha, making Ganjam the non-capital hot spot in July, with a peak of over 700 cases in a day. To date, the district has recorded over 20,000 cases, with 29 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours at the time of writing. The return of the migrants has increased stress on the limited health infrastructure in the district as well as on the resources.

Considering these conditions, the leadership workshops have been postponed to next year. It must be added here that, the pandemic has also reinforced the need for skill training. Handwashing with soap is one of the easiest precautions against the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID -19. Access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services is thus essential. Therefore, it becomes all the more critical to strengthen the capacities of women and other marginalised sections of the population to effectively plan, make decisions, reach out to and  hold duty bearers and service providers accountable, where required, to ensure services for all.

The significance of these skills goes beyond the realm of WASH. They empower women to access more opportunities, enable them to demand for themselves as well as for other marginalised populations. We know that such skills have the power to bring about transformative change.

How to help

If you would like to help support this project, or any others, you can make a donation here. Alternatively, contact us for other ways to support the women and marginalised populations in Ganjam and beyond.

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