Together with Borealis, WSUP worked with the infrastructure asset owner FIPAG and small-scale operators in Maputo to extend the water network, repair water tanks and provide training on how to manage, operate and maintain the piped network. WSUP used high-quality HDPE PE100 pipes to increase the long-term impact of the project.
This has significantly improved the water supply for over 50,000 residents of Maputo as well as creating a more resilient water infrastructure that will mean fewer leaks and less maintenance needed in the long-term.
Watch our video below to learn more:
This learning note focuses on identifying the basic challenges of the Ethiopian private sector business environment and highlights opportunities for growth and investment in the WASH sector. The learning note examines how access to foreign exchange currency, import of raw and finished goods, intellectual property protection and business start-up costs are affecting the WASH business environment. It concludes that an enabling business environment and strong private sector will not only help expand access to critical WASH products and services – but will also help Ethiopia to realize its ODF goal and to achieve GTP II and SDG targets.
Over the past few years, the Sanitation Learning Hub, in collaboration with the Government of India, Praxis, WSSCC and WaterAid India, have been developing Rapid Action Learning approaches. Multiple approaches have been trialled, with flexible formats, but the essential criteria is that learning is timely, relevant and actionable.
These learning approaches are the focus of the latest edition of the Frontiers of Sanitation series. This Frontiers explains the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches trialled and sets out a challenge to those working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to:
Nine Myths to Dispel About Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, by Pallavi Bharadwa. Engineering for Change, September 2020.
In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to determine what is true and what is not. This includes the news from around the world for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This article attempts to dispel nine myths that may have appeared in response to WASH events.
If you have not seen the news highlighting racism in international publishing, you might think that all peer-reviewed journals were created equal. A reseach team based in South Africa, Australia and Denmark brought this debate front and center on Twitter and on E4C, and they keep the conversation going on breaking racial barriers.
In continuation to the above, the Rural Water Supply Network shared an article by Euphresia Luseka. It caused an online furor on the state of relationships between the global South and global West when it comes to WASH knowledge. Two key sections from Euphresia’s article have been summarized well on the SuSanA forum. The author argues that, while the physical state of colonization is a thing of the past, it is still alive and well when it comes to the WASH knowledge. Also, “It’s 2020 and still it is puzzling how north donor organizations design strategies, policy documents, frameworks, guidelines and so on to guide Africa’s water sector and they are endorsed for sector practice with zero participation in authoring, editing or overall contributions by Africans, including those from their organizations,” the author writes. A new approach needs to be applied to not only systems thinking but also alleviate institutional biases.
After the upsetting news from the above revelations, we could use a break provided by this article on How (not) to write about global health, by Desmond T Jumbam in BMJ Global Health Journal. The article was inspired by a famous satirical article by the Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, “How to write about Africa,” and presents guidelines for how to write about global health poorly. “There has been little guidance on how to write about global health in a way that advances equity and justice. I present some guidelines for how (not) to write about global health,” the author writes.
Read the complete article.
In January 2020, the United Nations launched the global consultation to mark its 75th anniversary. Through surveys and dialogues, it asked people about their hopes and fears for the future … Read more
On 30 June 2020, WaterAid India and the Urban Management Centre held a webinar on the health, safety and livelihood challenges sanitation workers face in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This blog was co-authored by Ruchika Shiva and Shiny Saha
The Corona pandemic has reiterated the importance of WASH in overall wellbeing. The multitude of discussions organised since the onset of the pandemic have not only spelt out the preventive power of WASH in curtailing the spread of infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) but also placed it at the centre of broader development issues. The pandemic has created the opportunity for the WASH sector to actively engage in topics of basic human rights and labour rights. Particularly referring to the need to focus on the health, safety and livelihoods of sanitation workers.
Sanitation workers are a key part of the WASH system. COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role sanitation workers play in maintaining overall hygiene – collection, handling and/or disposal of solid and liquid waste (including faecal waste), cleaning of streets and drains. They are at the frontline of providing essential services, yet their contribution goes unrecognised and little is done for their protection and wellbeing. They face high occupational risks and hazards, livelihoods and financial insecurity as well as being subjected to social discrimination and stigma. They are among the most vulnerable workers facing the biggest risk of contamination.
It is important to acknowledge sanitation workers as a key part of local bodies (such as Urban Local Bodies). Without sanitation workers, engaged in solid waste or faecal waste management, the public health situation in an urban settlement would be extremely poor. Sanitation workers perform the critical function of regular cleaning that is required for communities to function in a healthy manner. However, in terms of employment arrangement most (3/4th as per a study by WaterAid India and Urban Management Centre) are either contractually or informally employed. Informal employment is higher among female than male sanitation workers. Such employment arrangements have a direct bearing on the kind of benefits they receive as well as their livelihood and financial security.
A rapid assessment study reaffirmed that most sanitation workers belong to marginalised communities, such as the Scheduled Caste (more than 50%) and Other Backward Classes. Marginalised communities such as these have been historically suppressed socially and economically. Therefore, not surprisingly, the study reported that three-fourth of the sample of sanitation workers belonged to the Below Poverty Line category. The lack of job security induced by the temporary employment arrangements continue to perpetuate the cycle of exclusion and marginalisation and render such workers vulnerable.
Sanitation work is precarious work and COVID-19 has increased the health risks faced by sanitation workers, in the absence of availability of suitable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), lack of waste segregation followed by waste producers (including the residents of the city), and continuation of manual scavenging. Being essential workers, sanitation workers have had to regularly provide their services to ensure the functioning of the city. Therefore, provision of nutritional and health support to these workers is crucial. The high occupational health hazard associated with such work makes it necessary that sanitation workers receive social security benefits such as life and health insurance, and pension. Further, the degree of social stigma associated with this work necessitates that they also receive housing support. It is often noted that while sanitation workers work hard to keep the city clean, they have to stay at the periphery, with poor services. The poor habitation conditions and hazardous occupation conditions necessitate that childcare facilities are also made available to them. It is important to note, however, that employment arrangements influence the kind of social security benefits that the workers receive.
The study further revealed that sanitation workers often did not use the PPE kit due to issues related to discomfort, fitting and grip. Therefore, it is critical that PPE gear is designed taking into consideration specific needs of the workers.
To bring about sustainable improvements in the lives of people engaged in sanitation work, it is crucial that the WASH sector partners with other sectors and puts forth a collective advocacy agenda demanding for their health, safety and livelihood protection.
WaterAid India (WAI) and Urban Management Centre (UMC) jointly conducted a rapid assessment to understand the health, safety and livelihood challenges faced by sanitation workers in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study findings have helped highlight specific challenges, bringing out critical insights for immediate measures in the pandemic context, as well as long term systemic measures for ensuring their health, improved working conditions and dignified livelihoods. On 30 June 2020, both organisations held a webinar on the topic which was attended by 170 participants.
In Focus, part of the USAID Center for Water’s Global Water Stories, is an occasional series that takes a broader and more technical look at USAID water activities that have been in place for some time to share approaches, results, and lessons learned.
Locations: Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania
Partners: Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy and Oromia Water and Energy Resource Development Bureau (Ethiopia); Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (Ghana); Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (Madagascar); National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (Mozambique); Directorate of Sanitation (Senegal); and Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (Tanzania)
Despite widespread knowledge of the importance of water security and sanitation to health and economic development, access to safe water and improved sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa is still very low.
Data suggest that the lack of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services is not solely the result of insufficient funding or technology but mostly due to ineffective resource allocation. However, governments must have access to accurate, reliable, and timely data to effectively allocate those resources and inform policy and investment decisions. In many African countries, sound sector data are lacking, which hinders their ability to make data-driven decisions. Without data, policymakers cannot identify needs, develop appropriate policies and/or interventions, allocate resources toward the most urgent priorities, or monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of development interventions.
USAID’s Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) project focuses on building the capacity of sub-Saharan Africa’s national and regional leaders to capture and apply evidence in the development of policies, strategies, programs, and investments to improve the capacity of their water and sanitation sectors.
In 2016, WALIS initiated the Improving WASH Evidence-Based Decision-Making (IWED) program to encourage a shift toward sustainable services delivery, consistent with SDG 6, through smarter use of data, better monitoring, greater emphasis on analysis, and evidence-building. The program also focuses on strengthening sector policies and strategies and encouraging sharing lessons learned and experience among African governments. As a first step, WALIS issued a call for Expressions of Interest from African countries that USAID designated as high-priority for WASH support. WALIS selected six countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania — to receive an award of up to $250,000 to support demand-driven activities. Each award enabled government agencies to address key bottlenecks by developing tools and evidence-based decision-making processes to improve the performance of their WASH sectors. To ensure the sustainability of program achievements, IWED focused on collaboration with government structures and institutions. WALIS and the selected local implementing partners worked closely with government staff and supported WASH sector government agencies to execute the awards, while government agency representatives provided oversight in coordination with WALIS.
Because countries self-identified different needs, the IWED program took on different forms in each, as discussed in detail below.
It would take several hours for staff at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy (MOWIE) to locate a single document in its disorganized filing room. As a result, the ministry often lost important WASH sector information, resulting in duplicative work and a lack of knowledge sharing within the sector. Ethiopia’s ONE WASH National Program — a sector wide approach to planning, financing, and monitoring the Ethiopian WASH sector — recognizes the importance of knowledge management (KM) to create a coordinated countrywide WASH program. Therefore, one of the program goals is to create a robust KM system, which would strengthen sector capacity for planning, budgeting, and monitoring WASH services.
IWED support in Ethiopia focused on improving KM in the WASH sector, with a particular emphasis on MOWIE’s internal KM systems at the national and subnational level, and transferring knowledge to other stakeholders to make information available for management, planning, policy formation, and decision-making. The project team developed protocols, procedures, and workflows to guide the development, use, and sharing of knowledge among national-level ministries. WALIS also provided capacity development for staff to implement these practices at the national and subnational/regional level; the Oromia Water & Energy Resource Development Bureau (OWERDB) served as a regional pilot. Additionally, WALIS set up information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including a high-end server and firewalls, to support the new KM system — a digitized version of the filing room that now allows users to easily find existing WASH sector resources, such as donor project reports and designs for drinking water systems.
Ghana’s Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) oversees the delivery of WASH services across the country, and coordinates sector activities to ensure efficient and productive use of resources. MSWR developed a Sector Information System (SIS) to provide key sector actors and the public with relevant WASH data for evidence-based decision-making. Poor data collection and management and fragmented data management systems (that did not feed into the SIS) undermined its function and usefulness as a decision-making tool. This made it difficult for MSWR to identify WASH service gaps at the national level and prioritize resources for filling these gaps.
To address this, WALIS supported MSWR to: (1) develop and implement standard WASH data collection, management, and reporting procedures and protocols from the local to national level; provide capacity building to different actors in the WASH sector to properly implement data collection procedures; (2) collect baseline data in selected regions; and (3) establish an integrated information system for the WASH sector that ensures data collected at the local level flows into the SIS at the national level. This improved system allows for the generation of sector reports and indicators the ministry requires to effectively target regions lacking improved WASH services.
In 2017, Madagascar’s national and local leaders faced a major barrier to improving public health services for the country’s fast-growing population: incomplete or inaccurate data on access to safe water and sanitation sources. To help Madagascar’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene reorganize the WASH sector and strengthen its systems, IWED supported the Budget Program per Regional Objective (BPOR) surveys for five regions in 2017. Before the BPOR process, some remote fokontany (districts) in these regions had never been officially surveyed. As a result, they had often been overlooked during planning and budgeting processes for WASH services and infrastructure.
The BPOR data collection process served as the foundation upon which the Government of Madagascar developed a more realistic sectoral plan that considers village-level WASH needs, based on the surveys of communities across all 22 regions of the country (with additional support from USAID and UNICEF).
In Mozambique, WALIS supported the Water Supply and Sanitation National Directorate (DNAAS) to strengthen its National Water and Sanitation Information System (SINAS). DNAAS officially launched SINAS in 2009 and designed it to cover the entire WASH sector as a single, integrated, sectorwide mechanism. Through the provision of timely, reliable, and publicly available data to plan, track investment programs, and monitor the sustainability of services, DNAAS intended SINAS to bolster sector oversight and accountability. However, SINAS relied upon manual, paper-based collection, and management of data at the local level, resulting in a fragmented, out-of-date system. This led to challenges in data accuracy, consistency, analysis, and sharing, and made it difficult for DNAAS to plan and monitor sector investments effectively.
To strengthen SINAS’s functionality, IWED harmonized the methodologies of collecting, processing, analyzing, and sharing data, and stored it in a consolidated and centralized database so it would be useful for planning purposes. After an initial ICT assessment, the IWED team agreed that it would develop a complementary mobile data collection tool, m-SINAS, alongside the centralized database. Technicians trained under the IWED program used these tools to collect data on water sources, water supply systems, and community sanitation and hygiene, including: location, number of people served, existence of a governance structure for the system, and water quality parameters. The IWED team also consolidated data from several regional-level systems into the central database. With IWED support, DNAAS procured IT hardware and software, completed mobile data collection, furnished a server room, seconded a data technician, and developed both m-SINAS and a WebGIS platform (http://www.sinasmz.com).
Lac de Guiers is the centerpiece of a complex water ecosystem that supplies 70 percent of the water consumed by 4 million people in Dakar and its suburbs. Recent environmental shifts as well as the lake’s vital importance to the environment, agriculture, and water supply for millions of people, have driven the Government of Senegal to better plan and manage this vital resource through evidence-based decision-making. To support the government’s initiative, the IWED program currently works with the National Directorate of Water Resources Management and Planning to measure the change of Lac de Guiers’ water-related ecosystem over time, including water quality. The IWED team is using state-of-the-art satellite imagery to measure seasonal changes in the aquatic vegetation of Lac de Guiers and adjacent wetland areas to determine the effectiveness of efforts to reduce its spread. The team is also using water quality analysis test kits to monitor ambient water quality in the lake.
IWED is also working with the Directorate of Sanitation to develop an asset management inventory monitoring system for public sanitation facilities in schools and health care facilities. The directorate will host the completed inventory on a web-accessible application that is capable of georeferencing all public sanitation facilities to enable their improved management.
To improve its WASH data collection, storage, and decision-making processes, Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MOHCDGEC) developed an electronic National Sanitation and Management Information System (NSMIS) in 2012. The ministry intended NSMIS to disseminate information to a broader range of stakeholders and provide reliable and accurate data as an advocacy tool for decision-makers. However, only ministry staff with specific software skills and government log-in credentials could access the WASH data on the platform. This meant that other stakeholders, including regional and district-level officials, could not view or make decisions using WASH data collected across the country, thus undermining NSMIS’s objective to be a transparent tool for advocacy.
Through IWED, WALIS helped MOHCDGEC increase access to quality data via the development of a national WASH web portal. This initiative is in line with the Government of Tanzania’s constitutional commitment to make information easily accessible to all. The web portal now allows other agencies, like Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), to easily access WASH data at a regional/district level, filling the gaps from the NBS survey data — which is only conducted once every five years. Furthermore, the regions and districts can now see how they are improving over time compared to the other regions and districts in the country.
IWED’s work to enhance the ability of each partner country to make data-driven decisions involved improving existing data collection, analysis, storage, and reporting procedures and systems. Where necessary, it also included upgrading ICT infrastructure. Refined and standardized data protocols in the focus countries have made it easier to collect data in a timely fashion and made access to these data easier for the relevant government ministries and other stakeholders who need it in their planning processes.
As a result, the BPOR process improved the government’s WASH services’ development and financial planning models. The Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene used the Results from the BPOR process in budget preparation and development of a revamped national WASH sector plan that takes into account the WASH needs of all citizens, and to identify the infrastructure needs and financial cost of achieving universal access to WASH by 2030.
As the integration of information from the various regional databases into SINAS continues, the system can more precisely pinpoint WASH infrastructure and services, which provides the districts, provinces, and national government with much-needed information to use in their policymaking, planning, and budgeting. As of project close in December 2019, 13,213 water sources had been added into the system. The success of m-SINAS has since seen the technology and methodology replicated across other government ministries and adopted as the national standard for data collection and management.
By Joanne Kihagi, WALIS Communications Specialist, Katie Connolly, WALIS Program Coordinator, and Alayne Potter, WALIS Deputy Chief of Party
To learn more about WALIS, visit:
This Global Waters In Focus case study appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 4; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org.
Strengthening Africa’s WASH Sector Capacity for Data-Driven Decision-Making was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
• Urban sanitation is more than just toilets. Dense urban environments require consideration of the whole sanitation service chain to ensure safely managed sanitation: fecal waste containment, collection, transport, treatment, and final disposal or reuse.
• Effective urban sanitation is city-wide and inclusive. There is no simple solution – rapidly growing cities require a range of technical solutions across the sanitation service chain. Ensuring that everyone benefits from safely managed sanitation requires specific approaches to target the underserved.
• Apply commercial principles to service provision. Management of sanitation services is as important as the technologies involved, and financial viability is a critical element of sustainable services. Local governments and providers must understand what the costs are for safely managed sanitation and how costs will be covered.
• Aim for strategic, incremental improvements. The sanitation challenge in urban areas is likely to overwhelm any single actor, so it is important to identify a manageable gap for USAID programming to address. Large investments in master planning and infrastructure are required, but urban migration, political dynamics, and logistical complexity require an incremental, locally relevant, and dynamic approach.
During the SDG Business Forum starting today, a breakout session titled ‘Untapped potential: Water Innovation to advance the SDGs’ will be co-hosted by UN-Water, UN DESA, and UN Global Compact … Read more
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Water utilities are crucial for guaranteeing the human right to safe water and sanitation. The session “Government, pay your water bills!” on August 25th at the Week on Water for Development (WW4D) shed light on the issue of governmental non-payment of water and sewage bills. This issue can heavily starve utilities of much-needed resources to operate efficiently and become economically viable. Also it is of great importance as most utility managers, government representatives, and development partners are aware of the matter, but rarely discuss it openly. This session brought together utility managers, development partners and civil society organizations to openly discuss, in four different breakout groups, the topics of governmental non-payment, its impact, and the strategies to overcome it..
Research presented by Sara Ramos, member of Solutions for Water Integrity and Management (SWIM), demonstrated that 95% of the utilities investigated across 18 countries – mostly from the global south – reported cases of governmental non-payment. The reasons identified were diverse, ranging from political interference to the belief that government entities and public service providers should not have to pay for water and sanitation services.
Civil society campaign in Zambia
In Zambia, for example, services to government institutions comprised 50% of the utility’s anticipated operational revenue in the financial year of 2019/20; however, the bills were not paid. Bubala Muyovwe, from the NGO WASH Forum in Zambia, explained the diverse reasons for these developments, ranging from weakness in cooperate governance to failure to prepare financial statements. Furthermore, Muyovwe highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial stability of water utilities stating that revenues have declined even further while expenses have risen due to, for instance, the purchase of additional chemicals. Although the government has developed strategies to overcome governmental non-payment such as, the installation of prepaid water meters, the problem prevails. Muyovwe stated that the next steps of a civil society campaign in Zambia will be to raise awareness of the issue through the media, collaborate with various utilities, and to exert pressure on the Ministry of Finance.
Getting the government to pay its bills in Romania
In her opening statement, Sara Ramos highlighted that the issue of governmental non-payment is solvable and there are diverse approaches to tackle it in the long run. In his breakout session Teodor Popa from the Romanian Water Company (Brasov), presented a successful example outlining how Romania was able to solve the problem 10-20 years ago. In Romania, the root of the problem was, among others, the lack of regulations and the problem of legal enforcement of non-payment. Consequently, certain measures were identified and implemented to address non-payment. The most important of these measures discussed were (i) the establishment and legal strengthening of regulators who can enforce the payment of unpaid accounts, (ii) the simplification of the legal process to sue for arrears, and (iii) the establishment of accountability provisions for government institutions in which they need to show that the funds have been used to settle arrears. Furthermore, through structural change, water utilities gained more independence from political interference.
What regulators can do: experiences from Rwanda
In this breakout session, Jacques Nzitonda, Director of Water and Sanitation from Rwanda,highlighted different ways that regulators can provide incentives for government institutions to pay their bills. Advocating for government institutions to allocate annual line budgets, as well as, the inclusion of indicators on government debt in utility reporting, were identified as the most influential measures to transform the issue of non-payment. Additionally, he noted that utilities should be encouraged and authorized to disconnect government institutions in case of non-payment. In the case of Rwanda, it was possible to address the issue through the increase of queries by the auditor general if a government institution has arrears. Overall, the aforementioned methods to address non-payment also played an important role in the utilities ability to take on commercial financing loans.
Supporting civil society space and voice through international advocacy
The role of civil society was comprehensively discussed in this breakout session. Al-Hassan Adam from End Water Poverty explained how a civil society-led campaign can exert pressure on government institutions to pay their water bills. The key aspects of such campaign would be to put local partners upfront and assure its flexibility.. Al-Hassan further emphasized that civil society is not homogeneous and that its diverse organisations operate differently in the light of national politics.
The key insights of this session were that the problem is very real and the question should be how we address it. People are right-holders and governments are duty-bearers; it is, therefore, the government’s responsibility for human rights to water and sanitation, and non-payment undermines it. If the government does not pay, it is the individual who will have to compensate for the costs through higher tariffs or poorer service. However, examples from Romania or Rwanda showed that governmental non-payment is a solvable problem, but only if there is the willingness and the long-term vision to make this behavioral and cultural change.
For more information on the issue of governmental non-payment, we invite you to read our policy brief click here.
Transboundary basins account for roughly 60% of freshwater resources, serving around 40% of the world’s population. Managing these shared water resources for the benefit of each country’s population, particularly the … Read more
Nearly 120,000 people have been displaced by flash floods caused by heavy rains across Chad in the month just ended. At least 32,000 of the affected persons are in the … Read more
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DigDeep USA | Home-Based / Remote
Position Type: Full-Time | Organization Type: NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: Senior (10+ Years) | Degree Required: Bachelor’s (Or Equivalent)
Simply Put: DigDeep is the only WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) organization serving the more than 2 million Americans who still don’t have a tap or toilet at home. DigDeep is growing fast. We won the 2018 US Water Prize for our Navajo Water Project, which has brought clean, running water to hundreds of Native families across New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
The Director of Engineering leads and coordinates DigDeep’s water, sanitation, and hygiene systems, including the design, technical implementation, operational excellence, and long-term sustainability. This position will support headquarters and field programs by creatively identifying appropriate technology, preparing and reviewing designs, monitoring system performance, and providing leadership and oversight throughout the project cycle.
The Director of Engineering is responsible for actively participating in the development and completion of projects, ensuring quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of DigDeep’s WASH systems, providing expert guidance and support, and maintaining positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders,
“When the crisis hit Mombasa in March, we found ourselves in a no-go zone, in terms of accessing some of our customers, because of the lockdown which sealed off some parts of the city. Yet at the same time, our services were categorised as essential and we had to respond to the government directive to keep on supplying water. So we were in a Catch-22 situation of some sort.
Our offices, in central Mombasa, face the Old Town of the city, which was one of the epicentres of the pandemic in Kenya. From my office you could see the policemen guarding Old Town during the lockdown.
Our staff had to keep going into Old Town, to give them emergency water. There are some markets on the borderline, which were the only source of food for the people living in Old Town.
We had to keep supplying water to these markets, so that the people in Old Town could keep on living.
The government directives to continue to supply water to all residents regardless of whether bills were paid were understandable in the crisis, but it has affected our revenues. The first month – March – we lost 35% of our revenues. We have not broken even in the last few years, so this is a big issue.
Mombasa has been hugely affected by the pandemic. The city’s economy is dependent on two key things – the port, and tourism. Both of these went down in a flash.
When I was in school I read a book by Chinua Achebe called Things Fall Apart. And there was a main character called Okonkwo. One of the seasons they had was one of the worst, where he borrowed 800 yam seeds and planted them and the rains never came, and when they came, they came very destructive. And it was so bad, one man just took a piece of cloth and hanged himself. And after that, Okonkwo used to say, if I survived then, I can survive any other thing.
And for us Covid-19 is the same thing, its been one of the biggest challenges in most managers’ careers, but for me, I was at the centre of it all.
I had to quickly reorganise my team to address the issues that we had to overcome. We divided ourselves into two teams, which would not be in contact with each other. We allowed people to work from home where they could, or to cover local areas to reduce movement as much as possible.
One of our biggest challenges was to provide water in the vulnerable areas. We mapped the city into zones and focused on the most vulnerable areas. We constructed concrete bases to enable us to install a 5,000 litre tank on top. The water was for free, so that people were not tempted to go to cartels. Water cartels always take advantage of a negative situation, to make people’s lives even more difficult.
There were also public service institutions which needed water. Within 24 hours of the government directive being given we went to Kenya Ferries and put 100 taps in. Then we did a hydrological survey and realised that there is fresh water there. So we drilled on the island side of the ferry and the mainland, and connected with a pump, so now there was a guaranteed supply of water for 24 hours.
We know that in another wave of Covid-19, we may not be able to move around freely to bill. So we bought 100 smart meters that can be read remotely, and we picked a few customers just to test. We were amazed at the response – not just in enabling us to social distance, but with the numbers that came through.
Through the efforts of staff, our revenue position is improving. We are now just 10% down and I believe we will be able to catch up in September.
When we had the first case of Covid-19 with our staff, 15 staff including myself had to self-isolate.
Personally, this was one of the most trying moments in my entire life. Those three weeks I was in the house, in the room, stuck there, it was scary – but at the same time, I had 300 staff who were looking up to me. I spent a lot of time coordinating with staff, to keep myself busy and sane.
I do think that now, there is greater appreciation from the general public, and the government, about the role of water utilities.
Water has never been on the high table for discussion. When you look at donors, all of them rush to health, but they don’t seem to realise that prevention is better than cure.
The other day I heard that at least Ksh 300,000 [$2,700] had been spent to treat a single Covid-19 case. I don’t think you spend Ksh 300,000 to give someone water. If you were to spend the equivalent on water, I think people would be safer.
But for the first time in eight years, the County government of Mombasa has allocated Ksh250 million to support the water sector.
In Mombasa, we do face a water scarcity problem. We have only enough water to meet around 15% of demand, and around 74% of the population is low-income.
But despite this, I do believe universal water access in Mombasa is possible. Completion of the Mwache Dam, and repair of the Mzima pipeline and construction of a second pipeline, Mzima II, would give us enough water. In addition if we could get a cheaper electricity tariff which was just for water – like there is for streetlights, for example, it could make desalination possible.
But our infrastructure is aging. Some of our pipelines were built in the 1920s. Water is just not something that people have taken seriously. This country is full of water, just mismanaged water. The entire country has a NRW [non-revenue water – water that is lost or not billed for] rate of 43%, a very high number when the global rate is around 22%.
There is a stereotype that water is always available, and as a result we have never properly developed the water sector. This myth about water being just freely available, without the need for investment to manage it properly, needs to be debunked.
We in the water sector are a sum total of failures across the generations, and probably Covid-19, and the spotlight subsequently shone on the water sector, is making our work a bit easier.”
WSUP has worked closely with MOWASSCO for several years, helping the utility to better serve low-income communities with clean water. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic WSUP is currently implementing hygiene promotion campaigns in Mombasa and other Kenyan cities, supported by the UK government / Unilever backed Hygiene Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC).
Heavy seasonal rains have caused flash floods and rivers to burst their banks, including the Nile in the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman, and affected thousands of internally … Read more
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Tetra Tech ARD Request for Proposal (RFP) No. 1866-003 – Date: September 8, 2020
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project is a centrally funded activity of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Bureau, implemented by Tetra Tech ARD and partners.
The objective of this RFP is to adapt existing MHM measure(s), as appropriate, for applicability to the workplace and/or advance development of metrics to more comprehensively capture menstrual needs, practices/behaviors, as well as attitudes and social norms relating to MHM in the workplace, and field test these in two or more countries to develop a set of validated metrics which can be considered for inclusion in broad-scale, national surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).