World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis … Read more
Globally, women and girls take on a grossly disproportionate burden in the work of securing water for their communities. Yet they remain dramatically underrepresented in water management at all levels. This leaves them vulnerable to and dependent on men for their water and sanitation needs – despite distinct menstrual, pregnancy, and child-rearing needs – and effectively deepens their economic marginalization. Gender-blind indicators don’t make these issues appear and that’s a big problem.
In Open Government co-creation processes, including those related to water and natural resource governance, we often talk of mainstreaming gender to address these issues more systematically. At Técnicas Rudas, we’re proposing that to do this and take the next step in advancing gender-inclusive governance, we need to mainstream the use of gender indicators.
To measure impact, to observe change, or to detect differences in characteristics across populations, policy makers, social scientists, and project managers make use of indicators. The feminist perspective calls our attention to two dangers of relying on easily accessible, simple indicators of well-being like GDP per capita, literacy rates, access to healthcare etc. First, the assumption of relative homogeneity obscures significant, systemic disparities within a given population along these indicators. A second and deeper danger is that the indicators generally neglect to take into account the systematic exclusion of marginalized populations from data collection efforts, which further exacerbates the fact that women’s and minorities’ realities are made invisible.
These dangers have significant consequences at the design, implementation, and evaluation stages of open government commitments related to Natural Resource Governance (NRG).
Gender has been part of human rights and development sector discourse for years! In that time, many have come to realize that relying on feminist intuition or focusing on getting people of diverse backgrounds “at the table”, is simply not enough. For gender to be taken into account, it needs to count, and be counted. That’s why we’re proposing gender indicators.
In 2019, the Feminist Open Government Initiative invited organizations to present proposals for action-oriented and evidence-driven research to support the adoption of a gender perspective in Open Government. As a feminist organization that works a lot on issues related to transparency and extractive industries, and one that relies on open data and grassroots participation, this call for proposals made us think.
What does having a gender perspective look like in practice? Does a gender-based approach have observable consequences? For example, do policy priorities change? Do strategies change?
In 2019, my colleagues and I embarked on a year-long, action-driven exploration of the practical potential of gender indicators within the Open Government Partnership. We adopted a specific focus on commitments related to natural resource governance (NRG) and the differential impacts of the extractive industries on women. Our case study countries were Mexico, Colombia and Peru – contexts where land rights movements and socio-environmental conflicts persistently challenge both traditional and sustainable development logic, and where NRG commitments feature frequently in National Action Plans.
Our research took a detour almost as soon as we kicked off. Because the open government discourse is so embedded in the Sustainable Development Agenda, our original layout also integrated the SDG framework. However, we quickly realized that in the contexts where NRG challenges are most extreme – where indigenous communities face off against multinational corporations to keep toxic spills from contaminating bodies of water, and where open-pit mines threaten to displace entire villages – the development agenda doesn’t quite resonate. Instead, we turned towards the international human rights framework to help us think strategically and ethically about where we need gender indicators most.
We proceeded with an intensive period of literature review, interviews, and round-tables with specialists on the extractive industries, open data, and feminism in Mexico, followed by workshops with women land rights defenders in Peru and Colombia, with whom we worked together to test methods for creating and using gender indicators in the context of the challenges and needs of their communities.
According to front-line land rights defenders who participated in this research, the differential impact of decisions about how natural resources are exploited or safeguarded is most apparent in connection with the impact of extractive industries on human rights.
In particular, when it comes to the right to water and sanitation, we see a very dangerous chain reaction of impacts. For example, a mining project has a dramatic effect on a community’s ability to exercise its right to water (due both to pollution and scarcity), which has cross-cutting consequences, by affecting the health of the entire community, which disproportionately burdens women due to traditional roles as caregivers, and thus in turn also lead to a drop in their ability to participate in the labor market, a subsequent reduction in livelihood, and further deterioration in access to health. Meanwhile, fewer clean water sources translate to more time dedicated to household chores and supporting agriculture production, further reducing time available for rest, education, and remunerated work.
We also discovered that using gender indicators in the process of co-creating Open Government Commitments brings issues to the forefront that we rarely see in conversations, let alone in action plans, on open natural resource governance. One of these issues is violence.
Across the board, where there is resource extraction, an increase in the threat of physical violence appears to be ubiquitous. This includes forced displacement, forced labor, domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual extortion, human trafficking, militarization, intimidation and attacks against community leaders and land rights defenders, and more. Natural resource governance strategies need to confront head-on the violent consequences of opening communities and the environment to extractive industries.
Our research illustrates what using gender indicators can accomplish, which is to:
We now have an extensive menu of gender indicators, which, for the water sector, includes for example disaggregated data on water quality and perceptions on water availability. But the most relevant result of this research is not the indicators, but the process. We created a replicable process to develop gender indicators and published two short, simple guides (in Spanish) to help stakeholders design gender indicators for evaluating long-term impacts as well as short-term results of Open Government commitments.
Overall, it’s important to recognize we don’t have to wait for sweeping reforms or for the next national action plan to start using gender indicators. They can be incorporated from the word go, in implementation. That said, and as far as OGP on the international level and on the country level is concerned, there are key moments where we can start to plan and integrate gender indicators: during co-creation, as part of the processes, at the conclusion of a national action plan – specifically in the self-assessment and in the independent reporting mechanisms methodologies- and, ultimately, at impact evaluations.
We should think of indicators not just as evaluation tools but also as guideposts that can help us ensure – from the moment of co-creation – that what we’re trying to achieve and the path we’re taking to getting there takes into account gender and gender minorities
The emphasis on process is in line with one of the final takeaways that I am left with as this project comes to a close: One doesn’t “have” a gender perspective in a passive state; a gender perspective is, or should be, the active, collective and continuous undertaking of a deliberate process. Keeping this in mind will be key if the OGP is to transform into a genuinely inclusive platform.
Tamar Hayrikyan, Managing Partner at Técnicas Rudas, a Mexico-based organization that aims to contribute to social movements and human rights defense through strategic research, technology, creative alliances and organizational strengthening. Prioritizing grassroots initiatives, our approach integrates an intersectional gender lens and digital security. Tamar has an academic background in political economy and human rights, as well as professional expertise in corporate accountability, transparency in the extractive industries, documenting human rights violations and protecting human rights defenders.
Every day, across the world, women and girls spend around 200 million hours collecting water. Women also have specific WASH needs. Yet they remain dramatically underrepresented in water resource management at all levels. Corruption and integrity failures shrink revenue for and effectiveness of the sector, further threatening the welfare of poor women and children in particular.
The Water and Open Government Community of Practice is working to change this by sharing research, best practices, and recommendations on how decision-makers in water management can significantly improve gender-related outcomes of their work. In a recent webinar, experts in national and international water and resources management focused on one means of action: gender-specific strategies linked to the WASH commitments made in Action Plans under the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Here are the key discussion points and conclusions.
Allison Merchant, Open Government Partnership
Platforms like the OGP have major potential for governments and civil society to work together on improving gender responsive reforms. In the past years, we have seen promising transparency and accountability reforms on gender equality priorities through these collaborative efforts, building on strong partnerships as well as learnings from the Feminist Open Government Initiative.
Gender is the second fastest-growing area for OGP action plans. To date, throughout the partnership, 41 members – governments in particular – have made 127 commitments on gender. Furthermore, there are currently 28 members implementing 82 commitments in 2018 and 2019 action plans.
However, this merely scratches the surface of how these cross-sector initiatives can collectively champion ambitious reforms to close economic, resource, and social gender gaps. Natural resource governance has particularly been a long-standing integration into OGP’s work, but bringing a gender perspective is relatively new. So, when we think about opportunities to advance gender throughout open government work, I would urge that the following be considered as part of our water and sanitation reforms:
The process of co-creating reforms can be made more inclusive through proactive outreach and engagement with government ministries and departments which are tasked with gender or inclusion
Non-gender-specific action plans and commitments can be transformed by gender analysis.
Such a gender analysis can take many forms and use specific tactics like gender budgeting or gender-disaggregated data.We have examples from Kenya related to open contracting and from Cote d’Ivoire related to participatory budgeting.
Specific interventions are needed to close gaps that disproportionately impact women and other key communities and reforms must be designed around those areas. Germany, for example, is monitoring women’s leadership in public and private sectors and using that data to inform law. Sri Lanka is connecting international protocols with the open government platform, by ensuring reporting for the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women is cross-populated and reinforced within open government structures.
Kanika Thakar, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)
Of the 65 WASH and sanitation commitments made to date, there are two on gender or gender equality, three on women’s participation, and another three on women’s agencies among their supporting actors. Gender equality is key to achieving sustainable water governance yet those numbers indicate it is largely forgotten in the process for open water governance.
We can’t just will gender equality into WASH.We need a process, with renewed and ongoing commitments on gender. Rather than having only specific areas of work dedicated to improving gender equality, we must actively mainstream (or include) at every stage: from planning and implementation to monitoring and resourcing.
It can feel like a huge undertaking, but we can build on our existing work and find easy entry points for activities that can deliver gender-equal outcomes.
Participants in the co-creation process should reflect our populations and their needs.
One woman or one non-binary individual does not represent all; we need to strive for strong representation of women and gender minorities from different backgrounds.
One tactic is to request that all partners or supporting organizations send gender-diverse representation to meetings. If these organizations have gender focal points – increasingly common among WASH institutions – they should be engaged in the process. Consider your audience as well – guarantee the right conditions which allow full participation. Segregated consultations or groups may be appropriate, particularly when it comes to discussing toilets and menstrual hygiene management.
While the term “community involvement” is used with good intention, it can result in gender blindness. Too often we take for granted women as part of the community. However, without being deliberate that the community includes men, women, and gender minorities, experience shows that one group will outweigh the others: typically, many men participate while women and gender minorities are left out, due to lack of engagement or underlying barriers to participation. This results in missed critical information about times and quality of service, as each group engages in WASH infrastructures at different hours and in different ways.
At first glance, pledging that a newly developed platform will offer “access to updated, complete information on drinking water supply and sanitation services” seems strong and gender neutral. However, women and girls make up two thirds of the world’s illiterate population, meaning that reports and written media are far less accessible to them. Women also have fewer financial resources, which can translate in less access to smartphones or computers and therefore less access to less online information. By appending to a commitment that access to and reporting on data is equally done by women and men, or by including the consideration that women and gender minorities face difficulties to do so, gender is brought to the surface. This may ensure follow-up on gender in implementation of open government commitments.
With any good commitment, outcomes must be measurable.
Evidence and data are the backbone of good policies; sex-disaggregated data is thus critically important.
To recognize and measure how women and gender minorities are engaging with or being affected by commitments, is to gain deeper insight into otherwise hidden barriers and motivators, which helps in noticing implicit bias in our commitments and activities. Seeing low numbers in these areas can also help motivate better policies to address these challenges and help us take active steps to achieve gender-equal outcomes. However, it’s important to be ambitious but reasonable about targets. Achievable targets are more likely to be realized. The World Water Assessment Programme’s gender and water toolkit (2019) is a helpful resource for this, including interview questions, indicators, and methodologies.
Mainstreaming does not need to be hard, but it doesn’t come without cost. The process of monitoring indicators, addressing barriers, and ensuring women and gender minorities are engaged and equally provided for takes resources, and these should be allocated from the start. Gender-sensitive budgeting, advocated for since the 1980s, works to achieve gender equality by providing funds to ensure gender-responsive outcomes. In South Korea, for instance, gender-sensitive budgeting was applied to modify their act on public toilets and allocate more resources to building them for the differentiated needs of men and women.
Tamar Hayrikyan, Tecnicas Rudas
We have carried out a year-long applied research project on gender indicators in natural resource governance, with the input and support of frontline land rights organizations and local communities and researchers from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia as well as the Feminist Open Government Initiative. We see that gender indicators, and not only the numbers but especially the process of developing them, can:
Gender indicators can be incorporated from the start and in implementation of OGP commitments.
We don’t have to wait for sweeping reforms or for the next national action plan to start using gender indicators.
The differential impact of natural resource governance decisions is connected to the human rights impacts of the extractive industries, for example the rights to food, to a healthy environment, and to water and sanitation.
Using gender indicators and undertaking the commitment co-creation process with a feminist approach brings to the forefront these issues and more that are rarely talked about.
One of these hidden issues is violence. which appears to be ubiquitous when there is resource extraction, and includes forced displacement, forced labor, domestic violence, sexual violence, sextortion, human trafficking, and attacks on community leaders. Natural resource governance strategies need to start dealing with this reality head-on.
From our research, we saw that impacts highlighted by gender indicators can lead to a dangerous chain reaction, also in the water and sanitation sector. For example, a mining project has a dramatic effect on a community’s ability to exercise its right to water – both due to pollution and scarcity. This has cross-cutting consequences on the health of the entire community, which disproportionately burdens women due to traditional roles as caregivers. This leads to a drop in their ability to participate in the labor market, and later to a reduction in livelihood and further deterioration in access to health. And meanwhile the reduction and unavailability of clean water sources increases the amount of time dedicated to household chores and agricultural work, further decreasing time available for rest, education, and remunerated work.
In conclusion, gender indicators, from the moment of co-creation, can help ensure that what we’re trying to achieve and the path we’re taking to get there fully takes into account gender and gender minorities.
The webinar “Water & Sanitation through a Gender Lens: Reinforcing Commitments in OGP Action Plans” is one of a series organized by the four lead organizations of the Water and Open Government Community of Practice: Fundación Avina, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Water Integrity Network (WIN), and World Resources Institute. Founded in 2017, the community has grown to 75 member organizations worldwide. For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2013, the 19th of November is celebrated as World Toilet Day. This years’ theme of the official celebrations was ‘Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’.
One of the ways in which the SMART Centres contribute towards access to a toilet or latrine is offering a range of options such as zero cement ‘corbelled latrines’ and SaTopans or Flapper. See also the overview of Sanitation Technologies.
Another interesting set of resources are the timelines with the NICC Foundation is developing. Recently two WASH timelines have been added to the collection. Check them on the website of NICC.
Households fail to connect to existing sewerage networks for a number of reasons. Fortunately, successful programmes around the world have tackled this challenge and, through a mix of responses, have … Read more
The post Getting households to connect to sewerage networks appeared first on UN-Water.
This new report from WHO and UNICEF is an urgent call to transform sanitation for better health, environments, economies and societies. Citing evidence on what works from successful countries and … Read more
The post UNICEF and WHO launch the state of the world’s sanitation report on World Toilet Day appeared first on UN-Water.
Climate change is threatening sanitation systems in cities. Droughts in southern Africa have led to questions over the suitability of water intensive sewer systems, and a growing realisation that other forms of sanitation which use less water may be more effective.
In countries such as Kenya, Mozambique and Bangladesh, climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of flooding which can damage toilets and spread harmful waste through communities.
What can cities do to ensure that everyone has access to safe sanitation in the face of an ever-changing climate?
WSUP has identified three ways to tackle the issue:
In urban areas, traditional sewered sanitation systems use a lot of water. As water availability reduces, so the importance of making best use of existing water resources increases. With a 50% increase in urban water demands forecast for the next 30 years, the systems that made sense 50 years ago may no longer be fit for the future.
In the informal settlement of Mukuru in Nairobi, one of the biggest slums in Kenya, simplified sewers that use much less water than conventional sewerage are being introduced by the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC).
In some places hit by droughts, such as in southern Zambia, water providers are forced to rely more on groundwater – but in urban settings, groundwater is often polluted by unmanaged sanitation.
Southern Water & Sanitation Company Limited (SWSC), the utility responsible for serving customers across 13 districts containing several urban centres, has understood the need to focus more on providing onsite sanitation, particularly to those marginalised communities who live outside of the central urban areas where sewers are not available. As well as improving access to sanitation for people living in peri-urban communities, this work aims to improve water quality for everyone.
Poorly designed sanitation systems result in harmful germs being spread through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.
The Ngong river passes through the Mukuru settlement and every time it rains, there is regular flooding in the entire settlement. The floodwater mixes with faecal waste from the latrines which then finds its way into people’s homes.
New research commissioned by WSUP is revealing the extent of the problem of faecal waste in communities. A study in one low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh, shows the alarmingly high frequency of germs in low-income urban communities suffering from inadequate sanitation.
The research found that health outcomes can be significantly improved with well-managed, closed drains and, when safely managed, fully sealed containment systems are in place and frequently emptied. Though the research is specific to Dhaka, it has relevance for other cities that are facing similar issues.
Clara Mariano (pictured above) is a resident of Chipangrara in Beira, one of many areas in Mozambique affected by increased flooding due to climate change. Poor drainage means that when the area floods her yard fills with wastewater, exposing her family to dangerous diseases.
“The water flow is a mess, I protected my yard but nothing seems to have worked, the yard is usually flooded with water, it is extremely difficult to live under such conditions.”
Following the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, WSUP has been working to deliver sustainable, long-term water and sanitation solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change for thousands of low-income residents in Beira.
Where urban communities flood, fragile toilet infrastructure can easily be damaged, causing residents to have to rebuild in the wake of floods. It is often the poorest residents, who can least afford it, who live in the areas most vulnerable to heavy rains and see their facilities damaged. This also has a major impact on people’s health, dignity and well-being.
Cities like Rangpur in Bangladesh are experiencing rainfall at an unprecedented level over the last couple of years, leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities. In September, 433mm of rain fell in 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.
Tackling the climate change impacts on sanitation in disadvantaged communities will require a coordinated effort with other urban service providers. Residents who are unable to afford safe emptying services have no choice but to dump sanitation waste in open drains and rivers, contaminating the entire water cycle.
Without rubbish collection services, solid waste blocks up drains, and stormwater builds up in these channels, spreading filthy water through communities. It is therefore vital for sanitation to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management services.
Too much water or too little water – climate change is damaging people’s ability to have access to safe sanitation.
But with the right action, WSUP believes that cities can ensure that the poorest, most vulnerable people have access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.
Top image: Melita Zeca lives in the cyclone-hit area of Beira where there isn’t safe and affordable waste collection services thus affecting the health of the residents.
Jacana is building a new Jacana Business Centre in Chipata, Zambia. The Jacana SMART Centre will be integrated in this building together with the activities around beekeeping, business training and sustainable agriculture.
Jacana is combining the building of the Business Centre with the training of bricklayers, which will be certified by TEVETA, after successfully completing the exam in April.
So far the fence has been build and a borehole has been drilled. Also the foundation for the office has been constructed.
For a full update, visit the website of the Jacana SMART Centre.
In one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, USAID and partners are helping create more resilient communities by preparing them to stay one step ahead of the next drought.
The Middle East and North Africa are among the most water-stressed regions on the entire planet. Water availability — or lack thereof — has shaped societies here in profound ways for thousands of years. Today water access remains an existential issue for many countries across this semi-arid and arid region, especially as they navigate the new uncertainties of a changing climate.
What looms largest in the minds of water resource managers is a chronic threat: drought. As an already parched region with relatively low water storage capacity, even modest downturns in water availability can result in outright water scarcity, meaning there is insufficient water physically available to meet the needs of the human population and the economy. More frequent and severe droughts associated with climate change are expected to intensify stress on all aspects of economic activity and daily life in the coming years and decades, even threatening food insecurity and social unrest in cases of extreme drought.
Despite the troublesome outlook, an innovative initiative launched in mid-2018 is increasing the capacity of several countries across the region to more effectively mitigate, manage, and even one day predict the next serious drought. With the support of USAID’s Middle East Bureau, the MENAdrought project is an ambitious collaboration pooling the resources and expertise of global leaders in the field of drought monitoring, forecasting, and management, including the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Johns Hopkins University, and others. Together, they are equipping water managers and engineers from Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco with the training, data, tools, and planning skills needed to better respond to and endure the next major drought.
Since the release of the U.S. Government’s first-ever Global Water Strategy (GWS) in 2017, USAID has prioritized strengthening water security around the world in partnership with other federal agencies. Together, they have embraced and operationalized a whole-of-government approach structured around four key strategic objectives, including “encourage the sound management and protection of freshwater resources.” USAID and NASA collaboration in support of this objective lies at the heart of MENAdrought programming.
Launched within a year of the GWS, MENAdrought highlights the U.S. Government’s commitment to improving drought risk management, a key aspect of the overall vision to create a more water-secure world. To turn this vision into reality, MENAdrought is built on three “pillars” to institutionalize integrated drought management and strengthen countries’ self-reliance in the face of future droughts. Those pillars include developing drought monitoring and early warning systems; conducting impact and vulnerability assessments; and elevating the importance of drought mitigation, response, and preparedness.
Each project partner contributes to the greater whole. IWMI has worked with the National Drought Mitigation Center to adapt their drought monitoring system to the local environmental conditions of the MENA region, and co-designed it so that national partners are now able to operate it locally. The drought monitoring uses satellite data, and modeling from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, to generate the monthly drought maps. Meanwhile the National Drought Mitigation Center used their expertise to support IWMI’s in-country convening of various “writeshops” to develop drought action plans that are co-designed across multiple ministries. This has been supported by extensive technical and policy training of participants from Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco for in-person and virtual capacity-building workshops. With an eye toward sustainability, one of MENAdrought’s central aims has been to create national-level drought management capabilities that can guide decision-makers’ water management responses and choices during future events.
“Climate change is having profound impacts on water availability across the MENA region,” says Strategic Program Director of Water, Climate Change, and Resilience at IWMI Rachael McDonnell. “Changes in key climatic variables already being experienced include declines in annual precipitation, delays to the start of the growing season with the onset of rains delayed by five to six weeks in many countries, increased frequency and intensity of droughts, and increased temperatures.”
For that reason, strengthening drought monitoring and management is urgently needed. “Droughts are a normal part of the climate cycle, and climate change is only going to ramp up this cycle and the extreme events that will follow,” says Dr. Mark Svoboda, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who also serves as a MENAdrought project lead.
Drought impacts every aspect of economic activity and daily life, without exception. Even in periods of relative water abundance, many MENA countries struggle with balancing competing water demands from various sectors. “One of drought’s best-recognized impacts is on agriculture, which clearly impacts food security,” explains Dr. Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Deputy Director for Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Geophysics and the Acting Chief Scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Beyond agriculture, drought-related water scarcity affects other sectors such as energy, transportation, and health. When drought causes food and energy prices to increase, the overall economy is impacted, which has downstream effects on household livelihoods.”
“The shocks of recent droughts, particularly since the turn of the century, have left all three countries grappling with these events,” says McDonnell. “Each of the countries has water stress from some common but also locally distinct conditions that make them prone to the impacts of drought.”
Hydrological and land-use data from NASA informs MENAdrought efforts to strengthen drought monitoring. The project cross-references the resulting maps with on-the-ground observations and measurements of water levels, soil moisture, vegetation stress, and related indicators to produce a reliable picture of the extent and severity of drought conditions at any given moment. This information not only helps track the evolution of a drought as its grip eases or tightens, but it also guides water managers and relevant decision-makers spread across other government agencies as they work in concert to direct timely and effective mitigation measures or emergency response.
While effective drought monitoring can help ease the stress once a drought takes hold, decision-makers have requested more help with forecasting before the climate shock starts to impact locally.
Drought forecasting capabilities can help provide at least some advance notice of an impending drought, providing countries with a crucial window to mitigate a drought’s worst effects through measures like preemptive water supply reallocations that can help safeguard livelihoods and entire industries. “The models have been shown to reliably forecast precipitation anomalies about one month ahead and temperature anomalies about three months ahead,” explains Dr. Peters-Lidard.
Under MENAdrought, drought forecasting technology is combined with regular monitoring to create a flexible early warning system that produces results with a fairly high degree of accuracy, providing advance guidance to local decision-makers before a drought crisis fully takes hold. “Typically, drought is a slow-onset hazard, but not always,” says Dr. Svoboda. “A good drought early warning system is also going to include the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month monitoring, which serves as a bridge to the longer seasonal forecasts.”
One of the most important legacies of MENAdrought will be the creation of national drought management plans currently under development, which are informed by the project’s early warning systems and drought impact assessments. These plans, developed in close coordination with in-country partners, will serve as roadmaps for integrated drought management, guiding everything from preventative drought planning to emergency response.
“In terms of building self-reliance and resilience, ownership of the plans is critical.”
Crucially, the plans will belong to the participant countries, encouraging buy-in from key government decision-makers and water stakeholders. “In terms of building self-reliance and resilience, ownership of the plans is critical,” says McDonnell. “A central tenet of this project has always been to co-develop systems that are robust and operational in the working environments of the countries. The systems have been designed with the main agencies that will operate them, and capacity building has been a key activity throughout the project. The engineers, water managers, meteorologists and agricultural specialists have been keen, able, and enthusiastic colleagues bringing their local understanding to the development of the plans, and capabilities — and it has been particularly heartening with young female specialists who have worked closely with us in the development of the plans and management ideas.”
This big-tent, collaborative approach to designing the drought management plans is expected to pay dividends down the road, in terms of ensuring that all participants feel they have a stake in successfully integrating these plans into government decision-making processes. “With more [collaborative] drought action planning involving water utilities, ministries responsible for water, agriculture, and the environment, there is a real hope that proactive drought management will become integrated into planning of all of these organizations as roles and responsibilities do not sit with just one agency,” says McDonnell.
To help operationalize these plans, MENAdrought has introduced a powerful tool known as the Enhanced Composite Drought Indicator (eCDI). The eCDI draws upon drought impact assessments, monitoring capabilities, and early warning systems — as well historical, country-specific drought information — to provide decision-makers with the scientific guidance needed to gauge when to declare an official drought, and when to trigger certain policy actions or emergency measures to bring relief to communities and economic sectors based on real-time changes in water availability. To that end, the eCDI is capable of documenting drought occurrences while specifying locations and intensities of drought conditions with a high degree of accuracy, as shown below.
What’s more, the design and performance of the eCDI can be tailored to suit a country’s specific local needs and characteristics. One data input to the monitoring is soil moisture which is generated using an open source modeling software from NASA known as the Land Information System. “Through technical support of the MENAdrought project these modeling methods can be shared with the participant countries, so that they can customize them as needed,” says Peters-Lidard.
Ultimately, the drought management plans and customized eCDIs will enable countries to make smart water management decisions even during times of relative water abundance. Equipped with these tools, MENAdrought participant countries will also be on the path to greater drought resilience once the project wraps up in 2021. As such, optimism abounds for what might be achieved in the years and decades ahead. “Proactive drought management as opposed to crisis-led responses have been consistently shown to be both more effective and less costly,” says McDonnell. “MENAdrought will give countries a strong basis for proactive and engaged drought resilience building.”
The technologies, processes, and planning tools introduced under MENAdrought are expected to have applicability to other drought-prone countries as well. As an example, Dr. Peters-Lidard points out that her agency’s Land Information System is “flexible and open-source” and therefore accessible to all, meaning “it would be possible to replicate the same methods across the region and throughout the world.” And it has been encouraging that many countries have already been expressing an interest in the project. “The tools are robust and operational, and the experiences in developing action plans could be used to help other countries deal with the ever-increasing threats from droughts,” says McDonnell.
In the end, greater awareness and preparedness cannot fully safeguard countries against the ravages of drought. But newly equipped with real-time data and powerful monitoring tools and plans, it is expected that even severe droughts can be navigated successfully in the future.
“Ultimately, we need to have good drought monitoring and early warning information systems in place that are tied to accountable action in drought mitigation plans,” concludes Dr. Svoboda. “The truth is drought should not sneak up on us…ever.”
By Russell Sticklor
This article appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 5; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org.
Strengthening Drought Monitoring Across the Middle East and North Africa was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Businesses and social enterprises are providing essential, low-cost water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) products in rural and peri-urban areas of Tanzania. Consumers not only need access to appropriate household latrines, but they also need trained professionals to install them in their communities. It seems simple enough, however, sanitation product companies face numerous barriers that prevent them from expanding into these markets — one of them is the high cost of creating and managing distribution networks.
To address this issue, USAID/Tanzania’s Water Resources Integration Development Initiative (WARIDI) began working with LIXIL, the maker of SATO (Safe Toilet) products, to hold marketing and supply chain development events connecting them with potential distribution partners down the supply chain. Tanzania’s National Sanitation Campaign has been instrumental in driving demand for improved latrines across the country, and this partnership was intended to reduce transaction costs and encourage LIXIL’s expansion into underserved areas.
LIXIL’s SATO products — including both a squatting and a sitting pan — are designed to improve sanitation for consumers. These products have a counter-weighted trap door that allows waste to flow through, then seals shut to keep out flies and prevent odors for an improved, safer user experience. SATO toilets can cost as little as one quarter of the price of ceramic toilets available in the Tanzanian market and are easier to install. They are ideal for the improvement of traditional pit latrines because the installation is a simple process of extending the pit latrine hole to fit the SATO and applying mortar to the edges and sides of the latrine after putting it in place. This can take as little as one hour of work.
To expand LIXIL’s reach into rural and peri-urban markets, WARIDI facilitated the company’s involvement in 60 roadshow events in 20 Local Government Authorities (LGAs). LIXIL and other WASH product companies sent representatives to promote their products to consumers and local shopkeepers, ultimately reaching nearly 30,000 attendees.
However, the roadshow exposure did not end up driving SATO sales as expected, and in fact, LIXIL found it challenging to meet the many small orders it received from retailers through their existing supply chains. In response, WARIDI co-organized eight business-to-business meetings to link LIXIL directly to local wholesalers, retailers, and masons in eight LGAs. This included dozens of WARIDI–trained microenterprises — small pharmacies, building supply, and hardware shops operating in underserved communities. These events gave LIXIL a chance to demonstrate its products to potential supply chain partners and to negotiate 13 pricing and distribution agreements in areas where the company did not have business connections. Additionally, WARIDI and LIXIL collaborated to organize trainings on the installation of SATO latrine pans for 76 masons working in 10 LGAs to ensure customers could easily find a professional in their areas to help them set up their new SATO latrines.
“Working with USAID/WARIDI helped LIXIL reach many peri-urban and rural areas to establish a SATO distribution network and this has reduced transaction costs for expanding our market,” says Justine Mbowe, LIXIL’s country manager.
Developing a network of regional SATO distributors who can supply retailers in their area has helped simplify LIXIL’s distribution network and allows for joint ordering to reduce transaction costs, and ultimately to keep the price of SATO products low. WARIDI trained microenterprises, regional distributors, and local wholesalers who have sold nearly 5,000 of LIXIL’s improved latrine pan products. These sales resulted in improved access to sanitation for an estimated 25,000 people.
WARIDI found sales per retailer to be highest in Mufindi, Mbarali, Njombe, and Iringa. Here, retailers achieved substantially higher volumes of SATO latrine pan sales than retailers in other LGAs. For example, retailers in Mbarali more than doubled the average sales of SATO reported by LIXIL’s small retailers across other WARIDI–monitored LGAs. Eager to learn from this example, WARIDI followed up with retailers in the area, who said they reached this volume of sales through proactive sales and marketing efforts. This included taking advantage of weekly village markets to sell products and, notably, actively coordinating efforts with local government during and after National Sanitation Campaign events to promote SATO latrines.
Government leaders in Mbarali took a very active role in sanitation activities, using a social media group to ensure engagement from the district commissioner and executive director down to ward-level executives and health officers. Participants exchanged feedback on sanitation activities, collaborated to troubleshoot challenges, and provided updates on the availability of SATO latrine products, which they saw as a key factor in achieving wider access to improved sanitation.
“I am glad to be part of the SATO supply chain in my area of Kinyanambo,” explains Musa Mgeni, owner of a microenterprise located in Mbarali. “This has helped me to increase [my] income through SATO sales. Thanks to WARIDI for connecting me to LIXIL through business-to-business meetings and the mason training.”
WARIDI’s collaboration with LIXIL demonstrates the need for market-based sanitation efforts to coordinate demand for SATO pans with product availability. While the road show provided good publicity for SATO products, LIXIL’s supply chains weren’t yet structured appropriately to meet demand in rural and peri-urban communities at that time. If supply chain strengthening activities had taken place first, the road show may have driven stronger sales results. In contrast, when WARIDI–trained microenterprises coordinated their marketing efforts with local government partners in Mbarali, they saw substantial sales of SATO products from consumers primed by the messages of the National Sanitation Campaign. This shows not only the importance of aligning supply and demand in market-based sanitation, but also the impact that can be achieved when the public and private sector are able to collaborate effectively as partners.
By Henry Jackson, Msafiri Chagama, and Nick McClure of Resonance
This article appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 5; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org.
Lessons from Tanzania: Maximizing Market-Based Sanitation’s Potential was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
A small family-owned business becomes a leading sanitation service provider in Senegal.
Ibra Sow is the president of VICAS, a successful sanitation service provider (SSP) in Senegal. Ibra began his career in sanitation working as an apprentice driver in his father’s family-owned sanitation business. He went on to create VICAS in 2000, with the aim of providing specialized services for onsite and offsite sanitation, road maintenance, and industrial cleaning in Dakar, the country’s capital. Today, VICAS hasan annual revenue of approximately $4.5 million, a fleet of 22 trucks and other essential equipment, 29 full-time staff, and 300 seasonal workers, and is one of Senegal’s four largest SSPs.
Businesses like VICAS need capital to grow. While traditional sources of financing such as government contracts, user fees, and international grants have supported SSPs in Senegal, a financing gap exists between the current government budget and the total investment needed in the sector. SSPs need access to capital for equipment and sustainable, climate-resilient infrastructure. According to a USAID Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Finance (WASH-FIN) survey of 100 SSPs, many providers lack financial expertise and are not well-positioned to grow. Consequently, SSPs have found it challenging to access additional commercial finance to support capital improvements. USAID WASH-FIN meetings with financial institutions showed that local financiers have a limited understanding of investment opportunities in the urban sanitation subsector, and view sanitation projects as risky endeavors from a business perspective. A USAID assessment of the financial landscape further showed that only a small portion of financial institutions had pursued WASH investments in the past.
WASH-FIN is working with SSPs such as VICAS in Senegal to close the sanitation financing gap. In May 2019, with support from WASH-FIN, VICAS received the equivalent of $1 million in financing from Banque de Dakar to purchase machinery and support day-to-day operations.
The support to VICAS included the design of a new business plan, which also included a capital raising strategy, a financial model, and an analysis of potential investors. An initial assessment of the company’s business expansion and fundraising needs showed that VICAS could take on more debt than it presently had. With WASH-FIN’s support, VICAS negotiated and selected the most competitive loan offer from a local bank — Banque de Dakar. Through the loan, VICAS furthered its ability to maintain and repair its equipment and infrastructure, thereby improving the quality of sanitation services for the approximately 50,000 households VICAS serves.
“This partnership with USAID WASH-FIN resulted in the most significant loan closing in my career and increased my confidence in the potential for VICAS. I am now looking to expand VICAS operations in the region, in Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo, as I already have strong partnerships with private sector actors in those countries,” notes Ibra.
Senegal is among the few African countries with a WASH institutional framework that has been successful in extending services by embracing private sector participation. Despite this success, only 21 percent of the population had access to safely managed sanitation services in 2019, according to UNICEF estimates. Currently, the government is working to expand this model, but the expansion is at risk due to financial constraints, with UNICEF estimating a $329 million government budget gap. With more than half of the population lacking services, and public funding coming up short, expanded sources of funding are needed. But traditional banks and microfinance institutions are not yet ready to finance the sector at scale. Service providers are also not sufficiently prepared to engage with these institutions.
To improve the delivery of urban sanitation services, USAID WASH-FIN is helping ONAS, the Association des Acteurs de l’Assainissement au Sénégal (Association of Sanitation Operators) finalize a market-structuring strategy to identify private sector SSP opportunities in urban areas outside Dakar. In support of this strategy, the program undertook a study of best practices in public-service market structuring and analyzed the potential market size that would be necessary to establish a profitable subsector.
In Senegal, WASH-FIN is also working with the local commercial banking sector to increase its understanding of sanitation investment opportunities, and to grow the evidence-base that documents such opportunities. To achieve this, the program has hosted knowledge-sharing events and led a landscape review to explore a broad array of financing opportunities. As a result of continuous engagement with the potential pool of financiers, 15 Senegalese banks and three multinational banks or investment funds have openly expressed interest in the urban sanitation sector. In addition to the $1 million in financing that VICAS received, new transactions exceeding $6 million are currently under negotiation with other institutions.
Commercial lenders have stringent credit requirements for SSPs. Designed to meet the different needs and skill sets of large and small SSPs, WASH-FIN technical assistance focuses on increasing access to finance to expand urban service delivery. This support consists of: assessing creditworthiness; refining technical proposals; preparing financial models; and matching SSPs with suitable financing institutions.
“It is important to work with both financial institutions and service providers in order for both parties to have a better understanding of what is needed in terms of expanding WASH services and the key investment opportunities and what is required to mobilize private finance,” emphasized Jeff Goldberg, Director of the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Center for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene at USAID.
In addition to VICAS, the program also supported another SSP, Delvic, in the commercialization of the Janicki Omni Processor (J-OP), a new waste-to-energy sanitation technology that is being piloted outside of Dakar. Given that only 21 percent of the Senegalese population has access to safely managed sanitation, investment is needed in new sanitation treatment options with the potential to expand services for entire communities. The J-OP is unique in that it processes sanitation waste, removing the pathogens, and produces energy, water, and ash as by-products. This technology is expensive compared to existing systems, but the ability to sell the by-products, or use them for industrial purposes, holds promise in terms of improving affordability for waste treatment. With additional capital, Delvic hopes to scale up the technology throughout Senegal. To help Delvic move the piloted J-OP to a commercially viable scale, USAID WASH-FIN prepared a market-based financial model using debt and equity sources. To date, grant capital has funded pilot operations, and the program has been working with Delvic and relevant stakeholders to raise additional capital.
In addition to supporting some of the largest SSPs in Senegal, the program is working to better understand the financial history, capacity, and interest of smaller SSPs in accessing financing. In partnership with ONAS and targeted financial institutions, WASH-FIN is supporting the development of a Fleet Renewal Program that would help replace aging sanitation trucks under affordable financing conditions. This multi-million-dollar fund is currently under negotiation, and, once finalized, is expected to mobilize investment to expand and increase the efficiency of service delivery.
In Senegal, USAID WASH-FIN is building on a strong foundation of government leadership, development partner support, learning, and vision that has positioned the country at the forefront of affordable sanitation service provision with private sector participation globally. By expanding local financing options, government budgets will be more efficient in leveraging domestic private capital. Most importantly, Senegalese citizens receive improved and appropriately priced services, and their health and the environment will benefit.
While few countries have a sector set-up with such intensive private participation, Senegal’s leveraging of its successful experience in water supply public-private partnerships (PPPs) to address the sanitation challenge shows that with political will and commitment, lessons from one sub-sector can be adapted to others. In this case, the government budget and local private capital are used more efficiently and blended through the public-private partnership (PPP) mechanism to improve services. When considering the alternatives of prohibitively expensive traditional networked sewerage and treatment systems, this solution is also practical and appropriate vis-a-vis the physical composition of dense urban areas and the local economic base.
In countries that lack a history of PPPs in WASH, bold leadership, strong governance, and appropriate incentives will be required to manifest a similar improvement in sanitation. For example, in Kenya, USAID supported an SSP to scale up its operations. The program worked with Sanivation to increase access to sanitation in low income areas and non-sewered urban areas. In South Africa, WASH-FIN helped connect a local technology company with a potential investor. In both Kenya and South Africa, the technology used by the SSPs is largely domestic and not prohibitive in terms of capital costs. Both of these experiences will be detailed in upcoming case studies that can be accessed on Globalwaters.org. To bring more advanced and higher cost treatment technologies like the J-OP into a market, it may be necessary to look at financing options beyond water PPPs, and look at other sectors for comparative learning (for example, the experience of financing innovative renewable energy or microgrid technologies).
Providing access to the 2 billion people globally that presently do not have basic sanitation facilities will undoubtedly pose a great challenge. The implications of inadequate or nonexistent sanitation are significant, with economic losses estimated at between 1–2.5 percent of GDP across 18 African countries, or as high as $5.5 billion per year. In rapidly urbanizing countries, relying on old thinking will not be enough; Senegal has shown this. With its successful model of public and private sector partnerships, Senegal is expected to continue to lead in bringing new technologies into the sanitation sector.
For more details on WASH-FIN’s work in Senegal, please read the newly published country brief.
By Farah Siddique and Stephen Sena, USAID WASH-FIN
This article appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 5; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org.
Scaling Up Financing for Urban Sanitation in Senegal was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Is corruption a real threat for water and sanitation services in our city? Is the situation improving or getting worse? How does our city compare with others? Can we even do something about it, and how do we start?
These questions are often asked but are actually difficult to answer with objective and reliable evidence.
Corruption is a concealed act by definition. It doesn’t easily lend itself to measurement. It’s nonetheless costly and dangerous, as it skews planning, diverts resources, and protects incompetence. In the water sector, corruption can be deadly.
Existing measures of corruption tend to focus on country-level reports of perception of corruption, provided by sources such as the Political Risk Service, International Country Risk Guide, and Transparency International’s Global Corruption Index. These are important tools to raise awareness and guide research but they are less useful when trying to examine and improve integrity in a given sector.
To ensure sustainable and resilient water and sanitation services across cities, local governments and sector decision-makers need a better understanding of the corruption risks that undermine their efforts. They need reliable measures that can guide practical action.
We couldn’t find this, so we’re building it.
Big Data and advances in analytics are making new kinds of measurements of corruption and integrity risks possible. WIN is collaborating with the Government Transparency Institute to take advantage of these innovations and develop a Water and Sanitation Sector Integrity Risk Index (WIRI) for urban areas.
The Government Transparency Institute has a proven track record in applying innovative quantitative and qualitative methods to researching and advocating good governance. They recently won the IMF Anti-corruption Challenge with an intelligence tool which uses big data to spot corruption risks in public procurement processes. WIRI partly draws on the methodology applied in this award–winning project.
WIRI is a composite index, which is constructed by applying Big Data analytics to administrative data and survey datasets. WIRI offers insight across the three main integrity hotspots in the water and sanitation sectors:
In developing WIRI, we benefitted from continuous feedback from an advisory panel of experts, including Cetina Camilo (CAF – Development Bank of Latin America), John Dini (South African Water Research Commission), Kasenga Hara (ESAWAS), Ricard Gine (SIWI), Sanjeev Narrainen (GCF), and Vincent Lazatin (CoST).
First results are very promising. The working paper shows that corruption risks in a particular city tend to change over time. WIRI enables us to capture even small variations in risk levels, thanks to the precision achieved by measuring corruption at the transaction level (such as contracts, customer interactions, etc.). In contrast, the measures of corruption perception widely employed in other indices tend to be persistent over time. The results in the working paper also show that corruption risks can differ significantly across different cities within the same country. This makes us cautiously optimistic about the prospects of selectively preventing corruption at the local level through carefully designed interventions.
What makes WIRI a useful tool? Firstly, we have aimed to capture a comprehensive list of sector-specific corruption risks. Moreover, unlike other existing measures of corruption that predominantly focus on perceptions, WIRI relies on direct measurement of corruption risks. Finally, WIRI results are comparable across time and space, which enables policy-makers to track progress and benchmark different cities.
These properties of WIRI make it a useful tool for:
In 2021, we aim to support a number of cities in applying WIRI. The aim is to support decision-makers get insight on how to improve integrity in the water sector and enable better service provision. We’re always seeking out new partnerships.
Want to know more? Interested in applying WIRI in your city? Contact us with your questions – uallakulov(at)win-s(dot)org.
The post A novel method to measure corruption in urban water and sanitation appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.
In order to achieve improved and sustainable WASH services, IRC WASH Ethiopia has been working on Wash Alliance International (WAI) project implementation in supporting Shashamane and Negele Arsi woredas (districts). The project is anticipated to enhance effective planning and monitoring, financing to the WASH sector, and develop climate resilient WASH infrastructure, where the challenge of water resources for different demands will also be addressed.
The planning process to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 in the two woredas was started a year ago by training Woreda WASH Experts from WASH sector offices such as the water, health, education, and finance offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a state of emergency restricting travels and gatherings, the planning process was deferred for months. Once the state of emergency was lifted, the planning process continued. Recently, there was a five-day workshop held at Hawassa to finalise the SDG planning process.
The workshop involved the WASH sector planning teams from the two woredas. Foziya Jemal is a WASH focal point at the Negelle Arsi Woreda Health Office. She said that the first training they attended a year ago enabled them to start planning for SDG 6, and after two months the planning teams from the two woredas met at Batu/Zeway town to present their progress. During their meeting at Batu/Zeway, challenges and faults they experienced during the process were discussed. A person from Dera Woreda of Amhara Region shared their experience on the process. After they returned to their woreda, they kept working on the planning.
Incorporating experts from the finance office allowed the planning teams to understand the available resources of their respective woredas. Jemal Umar is an expert at Shashamane Woreda’s Finance and Economy Cooperation Office. He stated that Shashamane Woreda has very limited resources, therefore, to use the limited resources properly, having a long-term strategic plan is very important. ‘’As water is linked with existence, and the community in water stressed lowland kebeles of our woreda are suffering with shortage of water, we are seriously working on the SDG planning and trying to use this wonderful opportunity,’’ Jemal said.
IRC WASH Ethiopia has been actively supporting both Woredas in the planning process
Improving access and sustainability of WASH services in the community and institutions in the two woredas is the purpose of the planning. During the planning process, households, schools and health facilities water, sanitation and hygiene gaps were analysed. According to Tirunesh Zerihun, the Negele Arsi Woreda Education Office Planning Expert, the SDG planning process capacitated them in identifying their water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities gaps in schools. Currently, they have clear data which portrays the overall WASH status of schools in their woreda and are happy to share the data with anyone coming to their support.
The SDG planning process is in its completion stage. The two woredas identified gaps and planned for new WASH infrastructures, counted their broken WASH infrastructure, and planned for rehabilitation, estimated costs, and identified potential sources of finance, and settled their target for 2030. The strategic plan will be validated with the participation of woreda WASH stakeholders and launched to serve as a road map for WASH intervention in the woredas.
Climate won the vote for the theme of this year's World Toilet Day.
Photo caption: Toilet, Bangladesh. Credit: Ingeborg Krukkert/ IRC & BRAC
This year, World Toilet Day is about climate change, as was World Water Day although in the end that was rather overshadowed by the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 theme puts sustainable sanitation in the spotlight alongside climate change. How might these two different global concerns, sanitation and climate change, be linked? We’ll come to that in a moment.
While for some of us stranded at home it might seem like life is only an endless series of webinars and online meetings these days, you could also live your life as a series of World Whatever Days. This week, the UN list alone has the International Day for Tolerance (Monday 16 November), World Toilet Day and World Philosophy Day (both on Thursday and with some obvious potential for linkage), Africa Industrialization Day and World Children's Day (both on Friday) and World Television Day (Saturday). A little bit more unofficially, Monday was also World Horse Appreciation Day. The same day, in the United States of America, was National Button Day as well National Fast Food Day. The list of topics fighting for awareness is endless.
UN-Water proposes the themes for the world water and toilet days, a small but very visible task in its effort to coordinate across the many UN agencies and partners working in water and sanitation, and spur us all on to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6. Recently the theme has been the same for the water and toilet days. Also the same theme is used by the Stockholm World Water Week and many other events on the calendar. Next year for example, World Water Day is focused on valuing water and in 2022, on groundwater.
So when the committee came together to decide the topic for 2020 there was an important discussion. Everyone was happy that water and climate made a deserving theme for World Water Day. But what about World Toilet Day? Is there enough of a link between toilets and climate change to make it a theme of a world celebration day? There was a lot of head scratching about who might deliver content for a day on toilets and climate. The long discussion was ended with a vote on whether a different more toilety theme might be chosen instead (breaking with the World Water Day and climate theme). But climate won in that vote and here we are.
Decide for yourself but there is a lot of compelling content out there making exactly those links. Our own staff and inspired individuals and teams around the world have spent the last year and more thinking about what connects sanitation and climate change and now you can read all about it.
Our teams working in places like Odisha, India, Bhola, Bangladesh and Honduras have seen the tremendous damage by storms and floods to sanitation infrastructure, and we are warned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to brace ourselves for more extreme events as a result of a faster, more dynamic hydrological cycle in a warmer world. The wastes we produce are energy and nutrient-rich, and clever designs and policies can enhance their benefits for the environment, or sanitation systems can be hugely energy consuming and contribute significantly to carbon emissions. There are plenty of stories on these and more at www.worldtoiletday.info/
So yes there are plenty of links between toilets and climate change, and a brave decision has pushed us all just a little bit forward.
For our part, we believe we must all work to make World Toilet Day a genuine celebration of success, rather than what it is – an annual reminder of one of the world's biggest human rights failures for billions of people. IRC will continue to remind the world that the only way to break the cycle of failure is to build systems that deliver sanitation and water services that last. Look out for our mini campaign saying just this (see the video below)!
Long and heavy rains from June to December are not an uncommon occurrence for residents living in northern parts of Bangladesh.
However, over the last couple of years, cities like Rangpur in the region have experienced rainfall at an unprecedented level during the monsoon season leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities.
In September alone, the city witnessed 433mm of rain in a span of 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.
In some areas, there was water logging for nearly fifteen days. The poorest have suffered the most forcing them to move out of their homes and seek refuge with their relatives in nearby areas or in emergency shelters where more than 100 people have access to one toilet.
WSUP is currently working in 10 primary schools for improvements of school sanitation facilities and in their catchment communities in Rangpur. All these communities are situated in the low-lying areas of the city which were under water for three days.
The aftermath of the floods has left already poor sanitation structures extremely vulnerable, impacting people’s health, dignity and well-being.
Ms Marjina, a resident from Kamarpara – one of the worst affected low-income communities’ said: “the investment for a toilet is too high compared to our financial status. Yet we chose to invest as we know this will bring good health – but reinvesting every year might not be possible for us and many might choose to go back to unimproved options.”
With the unusual rain patterns over the last two years, many residents of this community agree, assuming that this will continue to happen over the coming years.
Another major problem affecting the city is the waste collection systems that are poorly designed, resulting in harmful germs spreading through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.
Research recently conducted by ITN-BUET and WSUP found that 45% of toilets in Rangpur have faulty containment systems, many of which were connected to open drains which then mixed with the external environment.
The floods in Kamarpara saw sanitation waste from the septic tanks mixing with the floodwater leading to health problems like diarrhoea, dysentery and other skin diseases among the residents.
The picture is not very different in other cities in Bangladesh and it is the poorest who are the worst affected by climate change.
As we mark World Toilet Day this week, we need to act now to ensure that everyone has access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.
To tackle the impacts of flooding in disadvantaged communities, city authorities need to place more focus on developing climate resilient services for the poorest to ensure communities are healthy and functioning.
Improved toilet construction and ensuring drains are closed rather than open can help. Sanitation also needs to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management programmes to help reduce the health impacts of poor sanitation in times of heavy rain or flooding.
Even without climate change, access to sanitation in vulnerable urban communities is extremely low in Bangladesh. But with climate change ramping up, and increasing the risk of flooding across the country, living conditions for the poorest may get even worse without concerted action.
Despite reduced funding for market systems development (MSD) in sanitation, Water For People (WFP) has been able to grow and expand its approach.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) awarded a grant to Water For People (WFP) from 2010 to June 2015 to develop a market systems development (MSD) approach for sanitation. This update looks at how the impact from that work has continued to grow and expand, despite now having less money, and quantifies that wider impact in terms of sanitation MSD growth.
As of 2020, WFP supports 59 active MSD sanitation initiatives across nine country programmes. This update highlights six MSD programmes, which have overcome three barriers : (1) initiating businesses or income streams that can continue without WFP support; (2) the dependency on a small number of providers; and (3) the loss of control over the growth and development process.
The six highlighted programmes are:
WFP sees increasing opportunities for its established MSD models to scale to additional geographic areas, while it has new models in the pipeline that are being tested and readied to scale up.
On 16 November, a joint statement was issued by the special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, together with 22 other UN Special Procedures … Read more
The post COVID-19 pandemic and the human rights to water and sanitation appeared first on UN-Water.
A pro-poor strategy has been approved and a new national strategy is on its way.
Photo caption: Sanitation facility of a hardcore poor family, Ramgati Bangladesh. Credit: Digbijoy Dey/IRC
Bangladesh is struggling to manage the sanitation challenge of its huge population. The approximate population density of the country is 1265 per Km2 which makes it very difficult to find suitable sanitation solutions. During the era of the Millennium Development Goal, the country made great strides in reducing open defecation to close to zero. But the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) came up with new indicators and achieving safely managed sanitation has become a great challenge. However, the country has recently updated two of its relevant strategies to tackle this challenge. One is the National Strategy for Water Supply and Sanitation and the other is the Pro-Poor Strategy for Water and Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh (listed below under Resources). Of the two, the second one has completed all formalities and has been commissioned whereas the first one has been revised but is awaiting formal commissioning from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Co-operatives.
The two strategies are believed to play a good role for the country in achieving SDG 6, especially target 6.2. The pro-poor strategy solves the puzzle of selecting ideal candidates for the water and/or sanitation subsidy. Despite an increase of finance for the WASH sector, a huge population (roughly 6 million people) is hardcore poor and struggles to get safe sanitation. There was ambiguity in the mechanism of selection and subsidisation for WASH purposes. Development partners advocated to the government from the beginning of the SDG era for such a strategy. There was assistance from partners in revising the strategy as well.
In the revised strategy, hardcore poor will be selected as per the guideline of “Humanitarian Assistance Programme Implementation Guideline 2012-2013” (it has 12 indicators; key indicators are being landless or depend only on daily wages). People of this wealth category with no toilet or no private water source will be considered as a “target group” for subsidy. At rural level, local government institutes such as Union or Upazila Parishad’s WASH related standing committees will play a role in identifying these people. In urban areas, the Municipality or City Corporation will play an equivalent role.
Another visible change in the revised strategy is the share of subsidy. Earlier there was a provision of 10% cost sharing from the hardcore poor households for such subsidy arrangements (as per National Cost Sharing Strategy for Water and Sanitation 2012 - listed below under Resources). The revised strategy has kept the provision of 100% subsidy for hardcore poor people. As most of these people are estimated to be landless, the subsidy has community options. In urban areas, subsidy provision for faecal sludge management will also be available. The operation and maintenance (O&M) part of the infrastructure built with the help of these subsidies is mainly left to the community. A maximum O&M charge for the hardcore poor people has been set at 25 taka per month (roughly 0.30 euro). This may seem very negligible but there are observations which indicate that this negligible fee may prevent proper O&M. Another criticism of the strategy is the selection mechanism of the hardcore poor candidates. The local government institutes may not yet be capable of carrying out the task and a substantial capacity building and monitoring mechanism will be required.
The National Strategy for Water Supply and Sanitation is not officially signed but the working committee has finalised the draft. The official procedure to commission the strategy is ongoing. This will be the country’s key strategy to achieve the SDG 6 targets, especially 6.2. It has contextualised the definition of safely managed sanitation which remained a crucial issue of debate since many households in Bangladesh are used to sharing their toilet. In this context the strategy prefers to not limit it to one household and to prioritise the hygienic maintenance of it. It sets different milestones for different targets and also recommends institutional reforms to achieve the targets. More importantly it considers and integrates the issue of solid waste management and water resources management in WASH which was not so salient in the previous strategy.
Despite the demonstrated health, economic, social, and environmental benefits that sanitation improvements provide, governments consistently underfund and place a low priority on sanitation. Though the challenges differ in urban and rural areas, the shortage of sanitation facilities and services is acute, and the solutions are complex. Ensuring more households have a toilet is not enough. At the current rate of progress, universal access to safely managed sanitation will not become a reality until the 22nd century, well beyond the global goal of 2030. However, with ongoing examination of emerging research, exploration of what has and has not worked in the past, and a commitment to identifying locally relevant and innovative solutions, USAID is working to close the sanitation gap.
USAID focuses on increasing sustainable access and use of safe sanitation services and promoting key hygiene behaviors through investments that generate the greatest health benefits in poor and underserved communities: improving basic access to sanitation services in households and institutions and management of fecal waste. Achieving widespread community coverage of basic sanitation and ending open defecation are critical priorities, as fecal contamination affects the community well beyond the household level. Where populations have greater access to basic sanitation, such as in urban areas, USAID emphasizes investing in safely managed sanitation, which focuses not only on containment but also on the emptying, transport, treatment, and safe disposal of waste.
USAID’s Water and Development Plan, part of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, set a target to help provide 8 million people with sustainable access to sanitation services by 2022 — a goal the Agency has already exceeded by 2.6 million people. As we celebrate World Toilet Day 2020, read about how USAID supports sustainable sanitation around the globe.
USAID announced a new partnership agreement with the global sanitation company LIXIL on October 14, 2020, to extend market-based solutions for sanitation and hygiene to underserved and vulnerable communities worldwide. This agreement outlines a framework and pathway to leverage the unique expertise, resources, and reach of USAID and LIXIL to advance their joint mission to combat the global sanitation crisis. LIXIL’s line of affordable, hygienic, and odor-free latrines for lower-income households includes the SATO Pan. The SATO Pan features a tiny self-closing flap at the bottom to block odors and keep away flies. This sanitation insert gives users peace of mind that their latrine is hygienic. It makes using a latrine a more dignified experience.
The partnership will scale LIXIL’s SATO latrine and toilet products in as many as 11 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, aim to strengthen sanitation supply-chains and markets, and create business opportunities for women entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging economies. “We are very excited to team up with LIXIL and their SATO brand to reach more people with the safe and dignified options they deserve,” says USAID Global Water Coordinator Jennifer Mack. “At the heart of our new global partnership is a strong commitment to, and prioritization of, sanitation and hygiene.”
Enabling viable sanitation enterprises is the focal point of making sanitation markets work. Functioning local markets are critical to a household’s ability to adopt improved sanitation facilities. Applying a market-based sanitation approach, USAID builds the capacity of entrepreneurs — such as masons, contractors, sales agents, pit emptiers, and manufacturers — to adopt sanitation as a profitable venture that often complements their existing business.
To promote toilet construction in Haiti, for example, the USAID Water and Sanitation Project recruits and trains entrepreneurs to take on sanitation as a business. Through instruction and coaching, budding entrepreneurs learn to create business plans and market household toilets. After completing the training, submitting a business plan, and building at least 15 toilets, a company can receive a performance-based grant and becomes eligible for additional grants once 25 new toilets are sold. One trainee, Elizée Pierre, owner of a small homebuilding company, became the first recipient to hit the microgrant milestone. “The best part of the training was the hands-on exercise,” says Pierre. “I learned that you have to create a market for your product. You can’t just sit back and wait for the customers to come to you.”
USAID evaluated the sanitation landscape in Uganda and found toilet building inconvenient, lengthy, and expensive. The process often led to a product of dubious quality. Designing attractive and affordable products provides a good foundation for market-based delivery. And organizing existing sanitation entrepreneurs to provide information and professional services to households streamlines the process. The Uganda Sanitation and Health Activity (USHA) used data-based, human-centered approaches to design products that strike a good balance between affordability and preferences of target customers. USHA then trained interested masons and linked them to “demand activators” — usually community health workers — that are considered a missing link between demand generation and basic toilet construction. USHA trains these activators to share tailored messages that resonate with potential customers. Once an activator generates a lead, the mason is responsible for meeting the customer and confirming the choice of sanitation product most suited to him or her. USHA encourages sanitation entrepreneurs to pay demand activators a small commission for every successful lead. This aggregated information-sharing is vital to making the construction process more transparent, easier, and cheaper for households.
In August 2020, USAID received special recognition for its work with the Government of India to develop a competitive monitoring framework that currently assesses 4,200 urban local bodies every quarter to measure improved sanitation outcomes as part of the annual cleanliness survey known as Swachh Survekshan. USAID’s involvement dates back to the first year of the cleanliness survey in 2016, when USAID supported the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ Program Management Unit to design and implement the survey in 73 cities across India. Every year since, the scope of this work has expanded significantly to become not only a pan-India survey but also one of the largest of its kind in the world. “Swachh Survekshan, or the cleanliness survey, is more than a survey — it has become an effective tool for good governance, helped India achieve the goal of ending open defecation, and transformed the way the Government of India works to achieve other key development goals,” says USAID/India Acting Mission Director Ramona El Hamzaoui. In fact, the survey has become such a success that the Clean India Rural Mission and other government programs have replicated the framework.
USAID conducts research and learning activities that expand what is possible in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector, both globally and locally. In a quest to unpack the drivers of sustainability in its programming, USAID supported a series of six Ex-Post Evaluations, five of which explored sanitation outcomes over the long term. The series identified challenges associated with sustaining reductions in open defecation and enabling people to access higher quality sanitation. Among the takeaways: poor latrine quality is a key factor related to the lack of sustainability, and effective sanitation interventions likely need to apply a combination of smart and targeted subsidies, behavior change, and market-based sanitation approaches in a context-specific way. The series intends to foster learning and improve evidence-based sustainable development assistance at USAID and among other WASH stakeholders.
Through operational research, small grants, and technical support, USAID’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project collaborates with governments, key sector donors, and implementers to fill evidence gaps related to rural sanitation and behavior change. WASHPaLS’ applied research and learning activities influence both policy and practice so that sector stakeholders can more effectively and efficiently invest resources where they are needed most. The project’s foundational research on market-based sanitation has led to a widely used conceptual framework centered around creating viable sanitation enterprises. Tools to support policy-level decision-making on sanitation and ensure the viability of sanitation enterprises are already having an impact on USAID programming on the ground.
Finally, the Agency has issued a set of Water and Development Technical Briefs that provides new guidance on important topics for developing and implementing WASH activities in support of USAID’s Water and Development Plan, as well as recommendations for activity design, implementation, and monitoring. Two of these briefs are focused on rural sanitation and urban sanitation services, respectively.
Urban sanitation is about more than just toilets. USAID focuses on the entire sanitation service chain, from containment to safe disposal. Technologies and approaches for each step in the service chain are tightly linked, meaning that programs must consider the entire chain before designing interventions.
In Indonesia, most urban residents until recently depended upon informal, unregulated, on-call fecal sludge removal practices that were not only unsafe but also costly and harmful to the environment. To address this problem, USAID’s IUWASH PLUS project partnered with local governments to establish an innovative service for scheduled desludging of fecal waste, a process known as the Layanan Lumpur Tinja Terjadwal (LLTT). Endorsed by the Government of Indonesia, the LLTT guidelines now serve as the primary driver in formalizing Indonesia’s desludging services across the country. For the first time, 40 cities across Indonesia have instituted regulated, scheduled desludging services using the guidelines to benefit hundreds of thousands of households. Establishing, regulating, and monitoring scheduled desludging services at national and local levels has been a game changer for Indonesia’s urban centers, and demand for these services is expected to grow as the country continues to urbanize rapidly.
In the end, no universal solution can be applied to the world’s complex sanitation challenges. But as USAID and its partners look beyond World Toilet Day 2020, the Agency is dedicated to developing and implementing a mix of approaches to create locally relevant, innovative sanitation solutions that put customers first and establish an enabling environment in which these approaches can flourish and be sustained.
By Wendy Putnam
This photo essay appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 5; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org.
Five Ways USAID is Supporting Sustainable Sanitation was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.