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Before yesterdayIRC Water

Launch of Good practice for WASH in Ghana booklet

5 August 2020 at 11:15
By: awumbei

National Development Planning Commission - NDPC in collaboration with IRC and partners is disseminating the findings and is further engaging relevant stakeholders on the stories starting with the launch of the Good Practice for WASH in Ghana booklet.


launch of NDPC booklet

The Government of Ghana is committed to achieving access to safe water supply and water-related targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With about 10 years left until the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, there is an urgent need to identify innovative actions that can help fast-track the delivery of the SDGs.
The National Development Planning Commission in collaboration with IRC embarked on a project to collate and publish ongoing innovative interventions on water and sanitation from selected district assemblies; namely Wassa East, Bongo and Asutifi-North District. Fieldwork was carried out from 18th February to 4th March 2020 to ascertain, assess and interact with developers and beneficiaries of the selected WASH projects. The aim of the exercise was to collate and publish these innovative approaches and interventions for the purpose of sharing experiences and lessons learnt to institutions such as MDAs, MMDAs, private sector and CSOs. The main outputs for the exercise which include website publication on the WASH stories (at both NDPC and IRC websites) together with the final WASH document have been prepared.

As part of the way forward to these publications, the NDPC in collaboration with IRC and partners would disseminate the findings and further engage relevant stakeholders on the stories starting with the launch of the Good Practice for WASH in Ghana booklet.

The objective of the programme is to i) raise awareness on the ongoing strategic, innovative WASH interventions identified in the selected districts; ii) highlight major findings in the report; iii) generate further interaction with stakeholders; and iv) provide an opportunity to widen the scope of the interventions to unserved or underserved areas in the country to help attain the national and SDG targets on WASH. Due to the Covid-19 health pandemic, the launch event would be organised within one-and-half hours targeting WASH-related stakeholders and beyond.

Selected stakeholders are invited to join a face-to-face session whilst wider stakeholder participation will be via Microsoft link: Join Here. 

Programme brief

Time (Day1) Activity Responsibility
9:00 – 9:30 am Registration and Arrival of invited guests and the media NDPC
9:30 – 9:40 am Welcome Address Dr. Kojo Mensah Abrampah, Director-General, NDPC
9:40 – 10:00 am Brief Statements:
                 - Country Director, IRC Ghana
                 - Ministry of MWSR
                 - SDG ICC Coordinator
10:00 – 10:20 am Presentation: Water Stories and Sanitation Tales by NDPC
10:20 – 10:40 am Discussions: Participants
10:40 – 10:50 am Launch of the WASH Report Dr. Kojo Mensah Abrampah, Director-General, NDPC
10:50 – 11:00 am Wrap-up and next steps Dr. Felix Addo-Yobo
11:00 am Refreshment and Departure

Go back to overview page 

Post-construction support to Akatsi North and South districts

3 September 2020 at 11:39
By: awumbei

Video stories of change from two Ghanaian districts as a result of post-construction interventions.

IRC Ghana has been providing post-construction support to Akatsi North and South Districts in the Volta Region of Ghana as part of the district system strengthening efforts. This intervention is a move towards professionalising the work of area mechanics and equipping them with the necessary skills to perform their tasks more effectively for improved water service delivery.

"In the light of long-term sustainability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, post-construction support is critical for continued maintenance and operation of rural water systems," IRC Ghana Country Director, Vida Duti noted.

Through IRC Ghana’s work in Akatsi North and South Districts under the Triple-S project, tools were developed in collaboration with the districts to support post-construction support for water facilities. IRC in collaboration with CWSA, worked with the districts to conduct service monitoring over three years. Following up on the previous work and to ensure that progress is being made to achieve the national target of full coverage by 2025 and the SDG of universal coverage by 2030, IRC Ghana has since 2017 provided the local authorities in the two districts with the tools and technical support to position them to lead in the process.

As part of the post-construction intervention in the two districts, the Akatsi South and North District Assemblies in collaboration with IRC Ghana organised a number of training workshops for area mechanics in the two districts to equip them with the skills and knowledge to undertake installation, uninstallation, repair and maintenance of various types of handpumps in the districts.

Earlier this year, the IRC Ghana documentation team visited selected communities in the two districts to collect and document stories of change and lessons emanating from the intervention. The visit to the two districts took place in February 2020, meeting community members, trained artisans, Water and Sanitation Management Team members and District Assembly staff including District Chief Executives in both districts, conducting community visits and interviews. The team was accompanied by staff of the District Assembly in both districts, helping the team in community entry and translations.

The following three short videos highlight the experiences of change in the lives of communities in the two districts as a result of the post-construction support intervention. They represent examples from real-life about how small but targeted interventions towards local system strengthening can make a difference in the lives of many communities in the districts.

These three short videos reflect the perspectives of the community members, area mechanics and the district authorities, respectively.

They trained us to repair the boreholes for the communities



When they collect revenue from the sale for water, it has most of the times been misapplied


It's government's responsibility to ensure communities have good source of water


User's guide for the District Capacity Assessment Tool

24 September 2020 at 13:50

Guideline for the District Capacity Assessment Tool, a tool developed to evaluate if a given institution has the required resources (financial and human) and if the working environment is enabled to ensure sustainable water service delivery.

Quatre ans aprĂšs, Aboubakar Hema a-t-il tenu ses promesses ?

28 September 2020 at 17:06

Interrogation l'Ă©dile de Banfora sur ses actions dans le secteur de l'eau et assainissement.

AprĂšs quatre annĂ©es passĂ©es Ă  la tĂȘte de la commune de Banfora, le maire, Aboubakar Hema, s’est prĂȘtĂ© Ă  l’exercice de l’Association des Blogueurs du Burkina (ABB) pour faire son bilan de mise en Ɠuvre. C’était le samedi 12 septembre 2020, dans la salle de rĂ©union du gouvernorat des Cascades. L’activitĂ© a connu une participation massive des acteurs de la dite commune, qui n’ont pas manquĂ© d’exprimer leurs prĂ©occupations en ce qui concerne le niveau de la rĂ©alisation de l’ODD N°6 Ă  l’horizon 2030.

C’est au milieu de ses concitadins que le maire a prĂ©sentĂ© son bilan (Ph Com mairie)

C'est au milieu de ses concitadins que le maire a présenté son bilan (Ph Com mairie)

Plan Stratégique d'Approvisionnement en Eau Potable et d'Assainissement

DĂšs sa prise de fonction en 2016, le conseil municipal de Banfora a dĂ©fini trois axes stratĂ©giques de dĂ©veloppement. Il s'agit notamment de la promotion de la bonne gouvernance, du dĂ©veloppement de l'Ă©conomie locale et de l'amĂ©lioration de l'accĂšs de la population aux services sociaux de base. Lors de la prĂ©sentation de son bilan, quatre ans aprĂšs, le maire s’est logiquement appesanti sur ces trois piliers pour mettre en exergue des actions et rĂ©alisations qui font la fiertĂ© de la CitĂ© du paysan noir. Le dernier axe qui prend en compte l’accĂšs Ă  l’eau et Ă  l’assainissement, reprĂ©sente, selon le maire, une prioritĂ© pour la commune. La prĂ©occupation permanente du premier citoyen de Banfora, Ă©tant de procurer aux communautĂ©s de la commune qu’il dirige, l'accĂšs constant Ă  une eau salubre et propre ainsi qu’à un assainissement durable, afin d’amĂ©liorer leur bien-ĂȘtre gĂ©nĂ©ral.

«L’accĂšs Ă  l’eau  potable demeure une prĂ©occupation dans la commune de Banfora. L’hygiĂšne et l’assainissement aussi. Beaucoup de mĂ©nages n’ont pas de latrines. Certains font leurs besoins dans la nature. Ces cacas se retrouvent plus tard dans les eaux, ce qui peut provoquer beaucoup de maladies.» Des mots bien choisis par le maire de Banfora, Aboubakar Hema, pour traduire l’intĂ©rĂȘt que la commune accorde au secteur de l’eau et assainissement, et mettre l’accent sur l’urgence qu’il reprĂ©sente. Du reste, la commune de Banfora a Ă©laborĂ© son Plan StratĂ©gique d'Approvisionnement en Eau Potable et d'Assainissement (PSC AEPA), avec l’appui de l'IRC qui, pour la mise en Ɠuvre, a rĂ©uni tous les partenaires interagissant pour la mĂȘme cause ; partenaires sans lesquels, la rĂ©alisation de cet ambitieux projet serait une vue de l’esprit.

Avalanche de questions

La prĂ©sentation de ce bilan constituait donc une bonne tribune pour interroger l’édile de Banfora sur ses actions dans le secteur de l’eau et assainissement et principalement dans le cadre de la mise en Ɠuvre de ce Plan. A cet effet, le maire a Ă©tĂ© soumis Ă  une avalanche de questions, allant des actions concrĂštes de la mairie dans la mise en Ɠuvre du PSC AEPA durant la pĂ©riode Ă©coulĂ©e, Ă  la concordance ou non des types d’ouvrages d’accĂšs Ă  l’eau potable rĂ©alisĂ©s avec la vision et les engagements de la mairie, en passant par l’implication ou non des forces vives dans la mise en Ɠuvre du Plan et les avancĂ©es concrĂštes de ces actions par rapport Ă  la rĂ©alisation de l’ODD 6 dans la commune.

Mayor A. Hema

Aboubakar Hema a rendu compte de ses actions Ă  sa population (Ph Com mairie)

Des ouvrages

Abordant ces aspects, le maire a affirmĂ© que la commune a rĂ©alisĂ© comme actions, dans ce sens, plus de 45 forages avec une prĂ©vision de plus d'une trentaine en 2020, rĂ©habilitĂ© plus de 200 forages en panne, construit 472 latrines, 326 puisards douche et 17 puisards bac en 2019. A ces ouvrages, s’ajoutent 115 latrines rĂ©alisĂ©es de janvier 2020 Ă  mai 2020 et 30 nouvelles pompes Ă  motricitĂ© humaines (PMH) en cours de rĂ©alisation. M. Hema a complĂ©tĂ© la liste avec le dĂ©marrage de l’élaboration de la stratĂ©gie de communication, pour la mobilisation des partenaires et des fonds pour la mise en Ɠuvre du PSC AEPA. Selon lui, cette action Ă©pouse parfaitement la volontĂ© de la commune Ă  travailler en Ă©troite collaboration avec tous les partenaires et forces vives de la commune.

Le problĂšme d'eau

Cependant, plusieurs difficultĂ©s ont Ă©tĂ© soulevĂ©es, au titre desquelles, le manque d’eau au secteur 8 de la ville de Banfora, Ă  cause des travaux du 11-DĂ©cembre, la fĂȘte nationale, dont la commune accueille, cette annĂ©e, la commĂ©moration tournante. Dans cette partie de la commune, les populations souffrent le martyr, Ă  la recherche de « l’or bleu ». Le maire, au nom du conseil municipal, a rassurĂ© ses concitadins : « Ce n’est pas la faute de la mairie, ce problĂšme d’eau. Nous plaidons donc auprĂšs des autoritĂ©s en charge de la question eau, (direction rĂ©gionale de l’eau, Onea), pour qu’elles soulagent les populations de cette souffrance. » Le maire, promet, par ailleurs, la rĂ©alisation de 100 forages en 2021, dont 70 seront destinĂ©s aux mĂ©nages. Un atelier de forage a dĂ©jĂ  Ă©tĂ© acquis sur fonds de la mairie.

Le chemin reste encore bien long

De façon globale, le constat est flagrant, que les rĂ©alisations concernant les ouvrages d’accĂšs Ă  l’eau potable, se limitent aux forages Ă©quipĂ©s de pompe Ă  motricitĂ© humaine. Ces ouvrages ne garantissent pas l’accĂšs Ă  une eau sĂ»re, car, pouvant ĂȘtre contaminĂ©e plus rapidement avant la consommation, et n’éliminent pas non plus la corvĂ©e d’eau.  Ces situations sont donc en contradiction totale avec les engagements pris par la commune, selon lesquels 80% de la population consommerait de l’eau sĂ»re, soit par robinet Ă  la maison, soit Ă  la borne fontaine.  Il est donc Ă©vident que le chemin reste encore bien long, pour parvenir au mieux-ĂȘtre des populations, en matiĂšre d’eau et d’assainissement. Mais, assurant les uns et les autres que son engagement et sa dĂ©termination pour que l’eau et l’assainissement soient inscrits en lettres d’or dans son programme demeurent intacts, le maire de Banfora a lancĂ© un cri du cƓur Ă  l’endroit des acteurs du secteur, pour une collaboration efficace en vue de l’atteinte de ses objectifs. ParallĂšlement, IRC, Ă  travers son assistance technique avec l’appui financier de la Fondation Hilton, continuera aux cĂŽtĂ©s de la mairie, le combat pour que cet engagement soit effectif.

She Makes Change - an update

19 October 2020 at 11:09

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.

Partnership development in an alliance for increased impact

29 October 2020 at 10:01
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.

IRC launches new partnership with Kabarole District

11 November 2020 at 12:02

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.

10 years of progress washed away

11 November 2020 at 14:03
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 TĂșpac MejĂ­a 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 CortĂ©s 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

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

1 December 2020 at 11:03
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

Communities aren't enemies, we should harness their capacity

3 December 2020 at 09:35

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.


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.

Tackling systemic inequalities in water and sanitation

10 December 2020 at 22:48
By: Nansi

Systematic or systemic inequalities are grounded in our mindsets; in the way, we think, in the way we plan, in the way we see people, and in the way we interpret the rights to water and sanitation.

Women attending community meeting in the Sahel region, Burkina Faso. © IRC, 2015.
Women attending a community meeting in the Sahel region, Burkina Faso. © IRC, 2015.

A lot has changed, practically all events have gone virtual over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Something positive though is, we have realised the exciting potential, built new skills, reached more audiences, and discovered that virtual is not all bad.  

At this year’s Annual Water and Health Conference: Science, Policy, and Practice hosted by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) Water Institute [October 26–30th], more than three thousand participants attended this registration free well-executed virtual conference. The 2020 conference was anchored by major panel conversations covering timely topics such as WASH response during the COVID-19 pandemic and Systemic Inequalities in WASH.   

Systemic Inequalities in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)  

The plenaries were an opportunity to explore critical themes emerging in 2020. While a lot of information was shared over the week, this reflection stems from one of the most challenging and interesting themes - Systemic Inequalities in WASH - at which I was one of the panellists. This plenary, just like all the others, was used to challenge us, to review the evidence to stimulate critical thinking and to try to look at our work in new ways so that we can learn and do better. Systemic inequalities in WASH gets to the heart of who we are as a sector and why we do what we do. Recognising that it is not all about water and sanitation for some, but for everyone.  

It happens that we are allowing either consciously or unconsciously for systemic inequality to get in the way of our achieving SDG6 and achieving the real impacts that we hope to have for the beneficiaries of our work.  

In his elaborate and eloquent introduction of the theme and discussion, Dr Aaron Salzberg from the 2020 UNC Water and Health Plenary Panel honestly said that he was somewhat afraid of the topic. He touched on several forms and examples of systemic inequalities, ranging from people in the south struggling at odd hours to find a place with good wi-fi to join the conference, the unequal treatment of people of colour within the United States, in particular black indigenous and Latino communities that have been ignored. The deeply rooted systemic practices that have led to the indiscriminate attacks on and the discriminatory treatment of communities of colour, the growing wage and wealth inequalities in the United States and across the globe. It is highly likely that even our children will not see gender parity in our lifetimes. At the current rate, and this was before COVID 19, it will take 257 years according to the World Economic Forum to close the economic gender gap deeply impacting communities of colour and low-income communities around the world. Countless others have had to die before Black Lives Matter, and that one in every 100 indigenous Americans has died
. Aaron’s list of inequalities was not exhaustive but clearly gives a true picture of what the reality has become

This is also true for the work that we do on water, by providing water and sanitation services to an informal settlement on the outskirts of a city we are allowing the government to skirt its fundamental responsibilities and continue its oppressive practices of not legally recognising marginalised communities. It may be easier for us to provide the services than to force governments to recognise the rights of these individuals and grant them land tenure access to capital and extend municipal services. Also, realising that we have let the SDGs define success and have invested in vanity metrics the number of people served rather than measures related to capacity and autonomy of communities.  

COVID-19 is a time of reawakening, a lot has changed, and this situation has reminded us of how fragile life is at a global scale and how ill-prepared we are to address the challenges that we will face in the 21st century, challenges like the spread of infectious diseases, climate change, food and water, and security, access to basic services and health care.  

  Women fetching water in the Sahel
Women fetching water in the Sahel region, Burkina Faso. © IRC, 2015.

Now let’s look at the rural situation in Africa, that I am well familiar with as the IRC country director in Burkina Faso, leading the country programme as well as the regional African programme. 

Over the past decades, I have learnt more about who is left behind and who are not enjoying safely managed WASH services, what, how inequalities are shown, what are the root causes and what would be the solution. 

Most of the time many of us as practitioners in the developing world start working on inequalities with the assumption that the victims are a minority of the population. We used to think that when you talked about marginalisation, these were people living with disabilities, or people living in fragile states, but when we look at the figures of the Joint Monitoring Group [JMP] data of 2017, 73% of the population in sub-Saharan countries in Africa did not have access to safely managed water services and 82% did not have access to safely managed sanitation services – this is really the majority that is left behind from enjoying adequate public services. All these figures confirm the need to address this challenge. This is a noticeably big problem, an excessively big need that we need to address.  

Consciously or unconsciously somehow perpetuating this kind of discrimination 

One of the things that we all know is that many of these victims of inequalities in sub-Saharan Africa are living in rural areas. One of the things that I have noticed is that when we think for example about rural water, we all kind of systematically think about hand pumps and boreholes, while when we think as sector technicians about urban water, we instinctively think about tap water household connections. This way we are consciously or unconsciously somehow perpetuating this kind of discrimination while the data from the World Health Organization [WHO] confirms that handpumps can only deliver basic services and basic services are not enough for improving health. So how do we make the decision that rural people only deserve basic services, and improved services are meant only for those who are wealthy? How do we make the decision about blaming people for being poor? This is clearly just one example of how the systematic or systemic inequalities are grounded in our mindset, it drives a lot of what we do and see, in the way we think, in the way we plan, Etc. How we make assumptions about the types of service that rural people either should have or deserve. 

There is also the issue/bias around data collection, data analysis and then the fundamental assumptions that we make often at the very beginning of a scientific process that in many cases can lead to significant biases and outcomes. 

Listening very carefully and regularly to what people want in the WASH sector is not something we do naturally. This is reflected in the way that we design our questionnaires and surveys. It is about the questions we want to ask and the answers that people give. These are rarely open-ended questions that point to what people want, what their priorities are, for example about sanitation. 

A brief notable example of the work in our community in Banfora district in Burkina Faso is when we were doing data collection and surveys for designing the masterplan for WASH-related SDGs. Going back with the results to the community and they said: yeah, we already know our problems, but for once, you’re considering our expectations and vision in terms of service quality and not only how many handpumps we’re missing in our community as we use to hear from other partners. So, listening and creating space for people to share their knowledge and vision and not only to collect their problems from the lens of our predefined solutions.  

There is no single solution to dealing with inequalities 

The issue of any inequality must be tabled in a constructive manner and not be about pointing fingers at anybody. We need to acknowledge our mistakes and say what is going on despite our good intentions, what we are doing wrong so that we can improve. These issues should be discussed with the public authorities in the developing countries and their development partners.   

As organisations/people providing support to the government in developing countries, we also need to recognise the fundamental and critical responsibility that the public authorities have for addressing the issues of inequalities in a sustainable manner. There is no single solution from my experience that bypassed authorities mandated by their people for taking care of their community. 

Another crucial point is that we must rethink or reframe the usage of our performance indicators that help highlight inequalities rather than hiding them. In my experience, it happens a lot that we have good indicators, but the accuracy as compared to the actual percentages can tend to hide a lot of inequalities and finally, we need to be aware of the critical needs for strengthening country sub-national and national government systems. This is all about all the mechanisms in place for policymaking, institutional arrangements, planning, budgeting, financing, monitoring, accountability and learning and adaptation.  

It is the whole complex system that is actually perpetuating the inequalities and that needs to be strengthened, to be transformed in some cases, to make the change we are all pleading for. 

Addressing Systemic Inequalities in WaSH – It's Me; Not You

Gratitude goes to Vera van der Grift for her support in making this happen, and Tettje van Daalen for the proofread. 


Symposium on small town WASH services in Ethiopia

21 December 2020 at 12:07
By: Adank

Some 50 representatives from towns and regional bureaus participated in the small-town WASH symposium on 3 December at the GetFam hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were joined online by some 30 stakeholders from national and international level during the morning session, focussed on implementation approaches for small town WASH, and the afternoon session, focussed on monitoring small town WASH.

On 3 December, the hybrid face-to-face / online symposium on "Climate-resilient systems approaches for small town WASH services in Ethiopia" took place in the GetFam Hotel in Addis Ababa and online. This event was organised by UNICEF Ethiopia, IRCWASH Ethiopia and the Water Development Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources, Water and Energy of the Government and Ethiopia, with financial support from the British Embassy and KfW.

The objectives of this symposium were to

  1. for sector stakeholders to learn and share on small town WASH, with a focus on system strengthening and climate resilient approaches, and
  2. for sector stakeholders to identify innovations for scaling up and agree on specific areas that need more lobby and advocacy.

The list of presentations with links to the recordings and PowerPoints (in PDF) can be found below. Recordings of the full sessions will be made available soon. 


Morning session on implementation approaches for small town WASH

Integrated approach for WASH and BCBT contracting modality, and innovations on inclusive WASH in the ONEWASH PLUS PROGRAMME
Presentation by Lavuun Verstraete, from UNICEF Ethiopia, on the integrated approach towards small town WASH, contracting arrangements and the build-build capacity- transfer (BCBT) approach, as developed and implemented under the ONEWASH Plus Programme.

ONEWASH Plus Programme: Welenchiti experience
Presentation by Feyisa Chala from the Welenchiti Town Water Utility, as a case study of the successes and challenges of the ONEWASH Plus programme in Welenchiti town.

Applying a Learning Alliance Approach in Small town Sanitation (Ethiopia)
Presentation by Muhammed Musa, from IRC WASH Ethiopia / Tetratech, on undertaking a systems approach towards improving small town sanitation through facilitation of town level learning alliances in Wolisso and Debre Birhan.

Integrated water supply model serving refugee and host communities in Gambella
Presentation by Yitbarek Birhanu, from the Itang Town Water Utility, on how the Itang Town water utility served both a large refugee camp population, as well as host communities.

Afternoon session on monitoring small town WASH

Monitoring of small town WASH: Experiences from WaterAid Ethiopia's 20 town capacity Development programme
Presentation by Haile Dinku, from WaterAid Ethiopia, on WaterAid Ethiopia's 20 town programme and the performance monitoring developed and applied under this programme.

Development of performance indicators in Ethiopia
Presentation by Azeb Tadesse, from the Water Development committee of the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Ethiopia, about performance indicators and benchmarking for urban water services in Ethiopia.

Sustainability checks for small towns in the ONEWASH Plus Programme
Presentation by Marieke Adank, IRC WASH, on sustainability checks, developed and executed under the ONEWASH Plus programme in Ethiopia to monitoring small town WASH services and the conditions for sustainable WASH service provision.

Asutifi North water partnership impact sends ripples across Ghana

23 February 2021 at 13:29

Two new videos show how a district-wide partnership is transforming water coverage and lives.

Water vendor in Agravi, Asutifi North, Ghana


Photo caption: Water vendor in Agravi, Asutifi North, Ghana. Peter McIntyre/IRC

Robel Lambisso Wahimso, Ghana WASH Program Manager for World Vision, reflects on the success of the Asutifi North Ahonidie Mpuntuo (ANAM) initiative to deliver WASH access to everyone in the district by 2030.  

“We have all joined our hands towards achieving a common agenda under the umbrella of the Universal WASH master plan. It is a unique experience for World Vision. I believe it is a unique experience for the other partners as well.”  

James Ata-Era, District Development Planning Officer confesses that the District Assembly has been amazed at the impact as the initiative they lead brings safe water to communities, who are willing to pay for it.  

“The number of requests for maintenance of boreholes to the Assembly has reduced drastically. We ourselves are amazed.” 

The two videos focusing on Asutifi North each look at different aspects of the work. Commitment and leadership on the road to universal WASH coverage details achievements and reflections of those leading the initiative. Asutifi North partners join hands to reach a common goal gives partners space to reflect. 

District Chief Executive, The Hon. Anthony Mensah, sees the ability of the district to deliver safe water as a key indicator of good government. “I am going to be measured based on my performance and part of it will be how I was able to deal for people to get potable and clean water.” 

Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, Safe Water Network Sector Engagement and Partnerships manager, believes this approach could reach 3.2 million people in small towns and peri-urban across the country, provided the lessons are taken on board.  

“Local government authorities are willing to invest in water services, provided as partners we are also willing to invest a lot more time and effort in taking them through a process where they completely understand what it is that they are putting their resources into. We need to understand the fact that they are duty bearers and for every single Cedi or dollar that they spend they have a responsibility of being able to explain to their constituents the reason why they are making that investment.” 

IRC plays a hub role in this partnership. Jeremiah Atengdem, IRC Ghana WASH Expert said, “In a good working partnership you need to have backbone organization to drive change, ensure we have a master plan everyone believes in and is committed to ensure that at every point on the way partners are keeping their eyes on the ultimate vision which is to achieve universal WASH access.” 

Two other videos that tell the transformational story of the Asutifi North District initiative, documented under the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) good practice for WASH in Ghana cases include: 

How the ANAM WASH Initiative is transforming lives looks at the impact in three communities. In Wamahinso Town it contrasts the peace and calm at water points today with the near riots in 2018 when pumps ran dry. In Agravi village it shows how women have been relieved of a half kilometre uphill struggle every day with water from a contaminated open well. In Panaaba, Chief Nana Attakorah Amaniampong coined the phrase “Where World Vision goes, water flows” to sum up the transformation of his village. Water vendor Doris Bosompimaah even dreams of selling iced water from her stall. 

WASH for schools and health centres shows how water in schools reduces absenteeism and improves concentration in class. In Gambia no 1,  Vivian Kumah, nurse in charge of the CHPS health centre can at last practise effective infection control. “Doing childbirth without water is not safe,” she says bluntly. 

Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampah, Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission in Ghana says the whole country must learn from these experiences. “I think that is the path that we need to go if you want to make an effect.  Asutifi is not a special area in the country but it has now suddenly become the Mecca for good water management and how a team and a group can work together to responds to some of these areas.”

What is in a name - the ANAM WASH initiative

22 February 2021 at 16:58
By: Duti

Launch of ANAM implementation phase

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supports collective action in many countries. Ghana is proudly one of them.

Photo caption: Launch of ANAM implementation phase. IRC Ghana

In Ghana we believe that names influence character and behaviour. A name can be a  good omen or spell doom and can also be a motivating influence for success. We also believe that a bundle cannot be fastened with one hand.  These beliefs guided the chiefs and key local stakeholders in Asutifi North district when it came to naming their ambitious initiative to deliver safe water and sanitation to everyone within the district: the Asutifi North Ahonidie Mpontuo (ANAM for short) – or in English, the Asutifi North cleanliness initiative.  They coined the name  in acknowledgment that no single actor can deliver such an ambitious agenda alone. It was also to reinforce citizens’ understanding that their desire for a clean society can only be achieved with safe water, sanitation, and good hygiene. 

The name and the vision of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across the district, was arrived at following a year of extensive context analysis, stakeholder consultation and inception meetings to stimulate local understanding and buy-in.

Local authority driven process

The ANAM WASH initiative seeks to test a local-authority-led partnership with NGOs to drive district-wide access to WASH services. In recognition of the complex dynamics of providing access to everyone, the model further aims to give voice to and empower the socially excluded in decision making.  This latter, by stimulating popular support for WASH through the creation of a WASH network supporting proactive citizen engagement.

To support the local authority in driving the process, the initiative includes a hub function to facilitate the intricate task of partner coordination. This function is performed by  IRC, who have leveraged partners’ shared ambition for collective success by guiding the processes of joint visioning and implementation, fostering harmonisation of partners’ efforts and innovations, and ensuring mutual accountability for progress towards equitable outcomes.

Like assembling an aircraft

Being part of this discovery journey since its inception in 2017 has felt like working in an aircraft manufacturing process (impact lab).  Each partner has focused on developing parts of the whole thereby contributing to a collective effort of knowledge building and developing harmonised, scalable solutions. We have co-created and tested solutions to improve aspects of the service delivery machinery required to drive universal WASH access in a district.

The principles and actions fostered by the initiative may not be particularly new, rather, the uniqueness of the approach lies in how district actors are being brought together through deliberate convening and coordination by the local authority and traditional leadership with support from a dedicated hub organisation.

Achieving WASH prosperity

The evidence thus far from the experiment points in the direction of a more coherent and productive WASH system in the making. A climate in which all experience a genuine stake in the district’s increasing WASH prosperity is being fostered.

It is gratifying to note that the Asutifi North District Assembly  is becoming more confident and able to offer effective leadership to actors in its WASH sector.  Likewise, citizens are feeling a greater sense of shared ownership of the district WASH agenda as their opinions are sought in formulating responsive solutions and their WASH grievances are addressed. There is a remarkable improvement in water services and the district is on track to achieve universal access ahead of the 2030 target. We see how collective power can drive success when challenges are locally felt, solutions locally owned and leadership is taken on at the right levels. By 2020, an estimated 11,500 people had experienced some level of water service improvement. This includes 7,000 people getting to safely managed services and 4,500 people getting to basic water services. A total number of 52,000 people (of a total population of 63,000 in 2017) now have at least basic water services in the district.

Adapting due to COVID

2020 has been an unusual year with the COVID-19 pandemic but there has been a bright side to the twist despite the disruption. Empowered and inspired by the ANAM initiative, the local authority is providing clear and responsive leadership in rallying its WASH stakeholders to mobilise resources to implement a range of short- and medium-term interventions to mitigate and recover from the impact of COVID-19.

As Asutifi emerges from COVID, the partnership will shift attention to ensuring the resilience of existing WASH systems, whilst identifying and addressing the specific needs of hard-to-reach areas. It will also continue to bring lessons to inform sector dialogues, policy reviews and scale-up in other districts.

"Good Practice of WASH”

In  recognition of its success, the district was one of three selected by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) for documentation of inspiring examples of efforts towards achieving SDG6 in Ghana. Through this, the ANAM delivery approach has been included in the “Good Practice of WASH” compilation published by NDPC and shared with metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies across Ghana to inform their WASH delivery practices.  Currently, NDPC is considering incorporating learnings from the initiative into the next cycle of planning: developing WASH guidelines for all districts in Ghana to use in preparing medium-term WASH strategies and plans.

This plan will not end up on the shelf

The sector in Ghana is charting a new course to respond to changing needs by formulating new national development policy frameworks, revising sector policies and strategies, and reforming institutions. The processes are providing an opportunity for the sector to engage and clarify roles, but many issues including the role of local government and communities in water service delivery in the future state remain undecided.  The Asutifi North district authority, the traditional leaders and people, IRC and other partners working in and beyond the district, are well placed to constructively engage in the sector change dialogue using the evidence curated.

These processes promise to shape how to consolidate fragmented WASH interventions and improve accountability under a single institution through a network of people and functions working together to deliver WASH services to everyone.

The name ANAM WASH initiative will not be lost in sector history.

The partners

ANAM WASH is supported by a broadly based partnership of national and international actors including: the Asufiti North District Assembly, IRC, World Vision. Safe Water Network, Aquaya Institute, Netcentric Campaigns and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It receives financial support from these partners and also from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS).

Editor’s note:

While collective action such as that of the ANAM WASH initiative takes place at district level, our goal is to inspire replication and wider impact. Click here to find out how partners in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Uganda are working together for safe water, supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's Safe Water Strategy. This set of advocacy and outreach materials has been designed to ensure that what we learn is shared and adopted in more districts in the countries where we work, and in other countries.

You will find even more examples of collective action under Useful Links. 


We have a district WASH master plan: now what?

1 April 2021 at 11:42
By: brunson

"The master plan provides a strategic tool in bringing all sector actors together around a singular objective." - Magdalene Matthews, Senior Program Officer, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

As the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector seeks to support progress quickly towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), several beneficial tools have been developed to foster progress. One is to develop Master Plans that provide a roadmap for how a set of partners; including government, NGOs, private sector, donors, and other stakeholders; can provide their contributions and move together towards a shared vision. Developing this type of collaborative, detailed, and long-term plan for an entire district is an accomplishment to be celebrated; indeed, the celebration itself often serves as an influencing and partnership development opportunity. To date, at least four countries [Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda] have master plans leading to 2030, but when the launching celebration is over we are left with the question – now what?

A learning event on February 19, 2021, convened by IRC and Millennium Water Alliance with the topic, “The art of master planning and leveraging strategic partnerships” suggested the answer to this question is: Use the master plan – creatively and consistently as there is no perfect linear path.

The initial thinking behind the development of master plans was that if you have a fully costed plan for how to achieve SDG 6 targets across a district, the plan will do two things: 1. Provide a point of entry to utilise methods beyond ‘business as usual’ and push the sector toward systems approaches and 2. Serve as a roadmap to be shared with funders which would result in full funding to achieve the plan. The reality of course is always messier than the initial thinking (see this document to learn more about the messiness of an envisioned planning process versus reality). Once the master plans were finished, next steps were murkier than hoped and new funding did not immediately appear.

But one district provides an example of how to figure out what comes next and make it happen. The learning session featured Juste Nansi, Country Director for IRC Burkina Faso. Juste presented the creative efforts of the Mayor and other stakeholders of Banfora District in Burkina Faso to work creatively to reach out to a multitude of potential stakeholders. The developed master plan identified a finance gap (difference between available funds and funds needed to implement the master plan) of 30.4 million USD. Once the plan was developed the Mayor of Banfora took up the mantle and went to anyone and everyone to find creative sources of funding to get to full coverage.  Funding partners included:

  • Communities via tariffs and household investments
  • Local businesses (e.g. bakeries, hotels, restaurants, trades people, materials suppliers)
  • Diaspora communities living in other areas of Burkina Faso and abroad
  • National water utility
  • Central government
  • International NGOs and donors.

District WASH master plans from Banfora, Kabarole, Asutifi North, and Beregadougou.

The Mayor also used the master plan to advocate to the national water utility and the national government to provide more funding and support to show great progress for water in Banfora. One way the district jump-started these efforts was to host a major launch ceremony for the finalised master plan. This event was chaired by a National State Minister who made a significant public commitment to the plan and funding during the ceremony. These efforts have been successful in leveraging 12.5 million USD in increased funding to support the implementation of the master plan. The Mayor of Banfora has continued to utilise public events to raise awareness of the master plan and to advocate for more funding and partnerships. This has been so successful that national media have been reporting on the progress of the master plan in Banfora. Finally, the Mayor developed a Master Plan Investor’s Platform where information related to planning, reporting, and learning is shared regularly with contributors to the plan.

The efforts in Banfora to obtain the funding to implement the master plan required not just using the plan to ask for money but also intensive efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with multiple sectors, including new actors who were not previously involved in funding WASH.   

Following these insights from Juste three other experts including Jane Nabunnya, IRC Uganda Country Director; Abiy Girma, Head of National One WASH Coordination Office, Ethiopia; James Ata-Era, Asutifi North District Planning Officer, Ghana, provided their reflections on the use of the master plan in Banfora and what they have seen in their own countries and districts.

One of the most interesting aspects of the learning session was the similarities that emerged from all four country situations. All four identified that:

  1. Understanding where resources (money and in-kind support) come from is an important step.
  2. Local government leadership (ownership) of development, use, and implementation of the plan is critically important.
  3. Government has a critical role in coordinating the roles and contributions of each partner.
  4. Partnerships are required if you expect to get far in funding and implementing the master plan.

The audience was very engaged throughout the presentations and discussion. Insightful questions were raised both by the panellists for each other and by the audience. Select questions included:

  • If you raise all the money to implement the master plans – does the district have the adsorption capacity to fully utilise the resources? 
  • How would the options and progress be different if the baseline coverage rates were much lower and the finance required much higher as a starting point for this work? Would as much progress be possible if the starting point was even more challenging?
  • Is it possible to suggest what funding and partnerships were made available due to the master plan versus what might have been obtained regardless?
  • What are ideas and suggestions for how to build on the work done thus far to scale the use of master plan development as a nation-wide practice?
  • Is this a zero-sum process whereby new funds coming into this district means funding to another district has to decrease?

Many of these questions do not currently have simple answers and it remains up to all stakeholders working in water to continue innovating and piloting new systems approaches to push our collective learning forward.

To conclude the session Magdalene Matthews of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation shared that while the master plans are an excellent resource, the process of developing the plans is just as important in the way it brings stakeholders together to coalesce around a shared vision for how to address challenges in a district. The Hilton Foundation wants to continue providing support in ways that are aligned with local and national government priorities and focused on system strengthening approaches that should result in high-performing districts that can serve as demonstration districts to promote scale. The Hilton Foundation views the master plans as having a strategic role in driving increased financing to districts, supporting and ensuring government ownership and leadership, and fostering the development of strategic partnerships for improved sustainability and impact. Magdalene’s final words looking forward served to inspire session attendees to continue advancing on this sometimes messy path, piloting, learning, and engaging together to progress towards the SDGs.

More Learning

For more resources and learning you can view the full session recording here or visit this webpage for extensive resources on the Collective Action work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Safe Water Strategy grantees.

Blog information

Authors: Laura Brunson of Millennium Water Alliance and Juste Nansi of IRC
Review/Editing by: John Butterworth, Vera van der Grift and Tettje van Daalen

Information about the series

This e-learning series is convened by IRC with topic-specific assistance from other partners. The series is open to all Safe Water Strategy partners and friends and aims to support cross-context learning and strategic exchange within the Safe Water Strategy community. Funding for the e-learning series is generously provided by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Next topics for the e-learning series
  • April – Improving water quality in different settings 
  • May – Finance


A guide to addressing Integrated Water Resource Management in implementation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs WASH strategy 2016-2030

19 April 2021 at 09:23

Conceptual frameworks and guiding questions that help identify opportunities to strengthen links between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and integrated water resource management (IWRM) in various stages of the Ministry's s project cycle. 

A guiding document to addressing Integrated Water Resource Management in implementation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) WASH strategy 2016-2030. This document was developed by the Watershed, Empowering Citizens Strategic Partnership programme to provide the Ministry of Foreign Affairs guidance on linking Integrated Water Resource Management in implementing (IWRM) its WASH strategy 2016-2030. It builds on the policies of MFA and is combined with the knowledge and publications of the Watershed Programme (www.watershed.nl), and international literature.

Following the introductory chapter, chapter two gives the conceptual frameworks around WASH and WRM, and the linkages between them. The second chapter is intended mainly as a reference and is particularly useful for colleagues who are less familiar with the intrinsic aspects of WASH. Readers who are well versed in the sector, may decide to go straight to chapter three. 

Chapter three is the essence of this document and contains guiding questions that help identify opportunities to strengthen links with IWRM processes in various stages of the MFA project cycle. Each of a project’s steps (such as the proposal phase, inception phase etc.) is briefly discussed, questions posed and points of attention identified. It is not the intention of this document to provide exhaustive checklists of everything that needs to be done everywhere. Instead, it recognises that there is no one-size fits all, and it hopes that the process outlined will help identify the priority areas to address. 
This document builds on the policies of MFA and is combined with the knowledge and publications of the Watershed Programme (www.watershed.nl), and international literature.



Coming soon: a master planning facility for WASH

19 April 2021 at 19:40

Ghana - Asutifi North district assembly and partners town hall meeting

Building new partnerships and setting clear goals to leverage investment.

Photo caption: Ghana - Asutifi North district assembly and partners town hall meeting / Jeremiah Atengdem, IRC Ghana

We’ve got much better in recent years, at both IRC and as a wider sector, acknowledging that too much infrastructure for rural water supply in Africa isn’t working. And recognising that too much of the water being consumed isn’t safe to drink. There are similar challenges in sanitation: far too many people stuck using poor quality and dirty latrines and too many overflowing pits.

Recognising our failures as well as our successes and seeing the chasm between where we stand now, and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is proving a force for change. There is more and more momentum behind the idea that we need to strengthen the systems that deliver services, that we need to focus on capacities rather than just infrastructure, and that it’s a mix of policies, partnerships, and people (and more) that can make universal access to services a reality.​

Political drive and collective action are essential to addressing the world’s hardest challenges, because success relies on many different people and organisations all delivering their part. That’s true now in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s true to delivering water services.

Master planning

At IRC one solution we have been testing to encourage change, and to do things differently to realise such ideas – systems approaches and collective action - is planning. Master planning is rather traditional for engineers but turns out to have been rather radical and effective in the districts where we work. We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis into building new partnerships around master plans and using them to leverage investment. Plans can be boring, and left unused on shelves, but we’ve found (with our partners such as the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Water For People, Oxfam, and the Millennium Water Alliance) that they can also be a force for change. In Banfora a new plan has been used to find USD 12 million in new investment in WASH, partly closing a USD 30 million financing gap in the district to achieve SDG 6.

Learn more about planning in the IRC WASH Academy Specialist course: Building blocks of sustainable WASH systems

Getting everyone that needs to be involved to buy into a common path focused on systems strengthening – with governments necessarily at the centre - isn’t easy. But a shared vision, backed up with goals and a plan can go a long way and delivers results. ​Over the past few years, we have been supporting planning processes in all our focus districts. Last year, 17 partner districts developed new plans across our 8 focus country programmes in low- and middle-income countries. These processes all look different, bending to the context, national planning processes and WASH sector ways of working, but each district WASH master plan sets out clear goals and plans for achieving SDG 6 in a district. We are using such plans to:

  1. Ensure no one is left behind: Master plans set out a vision and plans for serving everyone, everywhere, forever. ​
  2. Mix service delivery models: On their own, utility water supply, community management or self-supply don’t reach everyone forever. Reaching everyone in water supply means combining service delivery models, and over time changing the mix to achieve higher services levels and progressive improvements.​
  3. Take a holistic approach to WASH: The district plans address water, sanitation, and hygiene, both at household level as well as at extra household level, including schools and health care facilities.
  4. Focus on life-cycle costs of WASH service provision: District master plans present what it costs to achieve the vision of sustainable WASH services for all, forever in a district. This includes all life-cycle costs, including the costs of developing new WASH assets and all costs of operating, maintaining and renewing these over time, so they provide sustainable services.​
  5. Promote a systems approach: Infrastructure is failing and breaking down too often. Strong local systems set within national frameworks need to be in place. These include monitoring, regulatory, asset management, financial, planning, coordination systems. Strengthening these systems ensures that services are delivered, forever.​
  6. Create partnerships for funding and implementation: Joint planning helps creating partnerships that are needed to implement the plan. Good plans attract partners and the funding required to implement the plan. ​

Later this year, to scale the impact of master plans in partnership with national planning agencies, we will launch a new district WASH master planning facility in our focus countries including initially Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda. This will provide access to funding and technical assistance for more districts to develop master plans, and use them to leverage investments in WASH.

ANAM Small Grant Opportunity for NGOs

23 April 2021 at 16:31
By: awumbei

Asutifi North District Assembly in collaboration with its partners have prepared a 13-year Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Master Plan. This is an initiative that seeks to promote universal access to safe water, basic sanitation, and hygiene services to about 84,420 people by the year 2030.

A strong local civil society is essential to improving WASH service delivery and sustaining the water resources. Within the WASH master plan, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been identified to support WASH through allied action, advocacy, and engagement with the people to build popular support and transparency within the initiative.


The ANAM Small Grant Opportunity aims to support selected Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the Asutifi North District to develop advocacy initiatives in the following areas:

  • Sustaining behaviour changes in hand hygiene beyond COVID-19
  • Improving access to WASH services for vulnerable and excluded populations including people with disabilities
  • Reduce inequalities in the allocation of resources for WASH services
  • Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services and sustainable Water Resources Management (WRM)
  • Improving gender equity and social inclusion in WASH  

The grant will support selected NGOs to carry out public education and sensitisation in Asutifi North District to complement ongoing efforts by the ANAM partners to achieve universal WASH coverage.

Entry information

The ANAM Small Grant Opportunity is open to all registered NGOs operating in the Asutifi North District. To be considered in this grant, NGOs need to submit advocacy proposals on at least one of the above areas to be implemented in 2021 in Asutifi North District within a period of five (5) months starting in June 2021. Note that one proposal per focus area is allowed but applicants are free to submit more than one proposal. Please use the proposal format attached for the application (see downloads below).


The civil society organisation – NGO, CSO, etc. should be a body registered with the Government of Ghana and the Asutifi North District Assembly; and operating in the Asutifi North District of the Ahafo Region of Ghana. The activities will complement activities within the ANAM District full coverage initiative that started in 2018.

Grant information

Funds for this grant is from the Hilton Foundation, through IRC Ghana as part of the district-based initiative in collaboration with the ANAM partners.

The total grant sum is Fifty Thousand Ghana Cedis (50,000 GHS). The maximum grant per project/NGO will be Ten Thousand Ghana Cedis (10,000 GHS).


The selection and award of the grant will be done in May 2021 by a panel of judges with expertise in WASH service delivery and behaviour change communications. The assessment will consider the potential effectiveness of proposed campaigns - Awareness raising; Promotion of best practices; Strengthening local partnerships; Improved participation; Community action; Local innovation and Policy influencing.


If you have any questions, please do ask for help – Contact the help desk at IRC Ghana: Email: Ghana@ircwash.org or call: +233 (302) 797 473 /74 or ANAM toll free number: 0800304000. See further information on the initiative at www.anamwash.com 

Please Note – Submit Proposals (soft copies only) to Ghana@ircwash.org by May 15, 2021 at twelve midnight.



ONEWASH Plus in Urban Areas in Ethiopia – Results from the First Phase

28 April 2021 at 11:02
By: Grift

The ONEWASH Plus Programme (first phase: 2013 to 2019) focused on WASH services in small towns, satellite villages and institutions (health facilities and schools) complements Ethiopia's One WASH National Programme (OWNP), which is led by the Government of Ethiopia. The ONEWASH Plus Programme aims to introduce, test and achieve proof of concept of innovative approaches in integrated WASH service delivery to deliver equitable, sustainable and resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services for all. On the basis of evidence, the programme aims to influence policy and to support the development of capacities at national level.

The ONEWASH Plus Programme (first phase: 2013 to 2019) focused on WASH services in small towns, satellite villages and institutions (health facilities and schools). It aimed to introduce and test innovative approaches and concepts to deliver equitable, sustainable and resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services in towns and satellite villages working in four regions of the country. This synthesis report summarizes learning from the first phase of the ONEWASH Plus Programme. Some of the concepts and approaches introduced proved to be effective and are ready to be advocated as best practice to be scaled through the OWNP. Others were found to be promising but needing further refinement. Lastly, for some new concepts and approaches, there remains inadequate data to draw conclusions at this stage.