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☑ ☆ ✇ WASHeconomics Blog

What is transformative WASH?

By: IanRoss
Figure 1: Transformative in respect of what?

This post summarises a note I have drafted on the definition of “transformative WASH”, available here, with references.

There has been a lot of talk about “transformative” WASH since the WASH-B, SHINE and MapSan results came out. I have previously written about those results here. The argument runs that “basic” or “elementary” WASH services do not reduce environmental faecal contamination to a sufficient degree to see health impact, so we need transformative interventions. However, authors typically provide little detail on how they see “transformative WASH”, which is unsurprising for an emerging concept.

In the note, I summarise what has been written about transformative WASH, adding reflections and an economic evaluation perspective. What emerges from existing publications is an idea of transformative WASH as “safely-managed” levels of water and sanitation service in combination with basic hygiene, better housing conditions (e.g. sealed floors / play spaces) and better management of animals, all with a view to reduced faecal contamination and health gains. Most authors also agree that the WASH system functions such as policy, planning, M&E and regulation are important enabling factors for transformative WASH.

I have five points to make:

1. I tend to think of “transformative” as a level of ambition, rather than a level of service. Being transformative, then, is about achieving incremental changes which are large rather than small, regardless of the starting point or end point.

2. I also tend to think about transformation in terms of outcomes, as opposed to interventions or environmental contamination (Figure 1). By outcomes I mean not only infectious disease and nutrition, but also quality of life, because users value WASH services for many reasons.

3. As and when a definition emerges, it does not follow that only interventions which are “transformative” in disease risk terms should be funded. The most economically efficient interventions are not necessarily those which are most effective at improving health. The costs of a highly effective intervention may be substantially higher than the next best option, to the extent that it is much less cost-beneficial. Choosing the most efficient interventions permits extending services to a larger number of people within a given budget constraint, maximising net benefits to society.

4. The equity principle demands that a substantial proportion of collective effort is placed on extending services to those with the worst levels of service at present.

5. To avoid wasted investments, services must be sustained. Recurrent costs typically increase with level of service, and must be covered. Therefore, levels of service offered should be aligned with households’ willingness and ability to pay those recurrent costs. Without this principle, services may fall into disrepair or low levels of uptake will make schemes inefficient to run.

This post summarises a note (available here), which summarises what has been written about transformative WASH, adding reflections and an economic perspective. I summary, I see “transformative” as a level of ambition, rather than a level of service, best conceptualised at the level of outcomes. Being transformative is then about achieving incremental changes which are large rather than small, regardless of the starting point or end point. The most economically efficient interventions are not necessarily those which are most effective in health terms.


☑ ☆ ✇ UN-Water Affiliated News

World Water Day 2021 digital campaign: #Water2me

By: Anna Nylander

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

The post World Water Day 2021 digital campaign: #Water2me appeared first on UN-Water.

☑ ☆ ✇ Water Integrity Network

What does it mean to mainstream gender in open government processes and why are gender-blind indicators not enough?

By: Water Integrity Network

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.


Why 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).

  • At the design stage, the blind spots mean that policy ideas and “theories of change” might be much less relevant and far-reaching in practice than they appear on paper.
  • At the implementation state, implicit discriminatory practices can go entirely unnoticed.
  • At the evaluation stage, the same blind spots mean that skewed or counterproductive impacts might go undetected and uncorrected.

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.


New research to show impact of gender-based approach

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.



Gender indicators highlight the harmful impact of extractive industries in terms of human rights

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.


Where there is resource extraction, there is violence

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.


Beyond specific indicators, committing to the process

Our research illustrates what using gender indicators can accomplish, which is to:

  • make visible what has been invisible for many up until now
  • assign value to what is normally taken for granted – issues that have traditionally been viewed as secondary or only indirectly related to natural resource governance – and put it center stage; and, finally,
  • serve as guideposts for designing much more inclusive and impactful natural resource governance strategies that have respecting and protecting human rights as one of their primary objectives.

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.


About the author

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.


See more posts from the Water and Open Government Community of Practice here.

See more posts on gender and water integrity here.

The post What does it mean to mainstream gender in open government processes and why are gender-blind indicators not enough? appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

☑ ☆ ✇ Water Integrity Network

Water and sanitation through a gender lens

By: Water Integrity Network

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.



Gender across OGP action plans

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:


Inclusive co-creation:

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


Gender mainstreaming:

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.


Gender-specific commitments:

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.



Integrating gender priorities into WASH commitments

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.


Represent gender diversity:

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.


Be gender explicit:

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.


Illuminate and account for inequalities:

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.


Collect gendered data and set targets:

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.


Be prepared to pay:

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.



Developing and using gender indicators for open natural resource governance

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:

  • make visible what has been invisible for many up until now;
  • assign value to what is taken for granted; and, finally
  • serve as guideposts for designing much more inclusive and impactful natural resource government strategies which respect human rights.

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 hidden human rights impacts of natural resource governance:

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.


Chain reactions of impacts:

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 wateropengovernment@siwi.org.

The post Water and sanitation through a gender lens appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

☑ ☆ ✇ UN-Water Affiliated News

Getting households to connect to sewerage networks

By: Anna Nylander

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ UN-Water Affiliated News

UNICEF and WHO launch the state of the world’s sanitation report on World Toilet Day

By: Anna Nylander

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ Globalwaters

Strengthening Drought Monitoring Across the Middle East and North Africa

By: USAID Water Team

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.

Sunset over the rolling countryside of Jordan, among the most water-scarce countries on Earth. Photo credit: Mariusz Kluzniak

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.

Appearances can be deceiving: Despite the presence of snow in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains, seen here along the road between Midelt and Fès, the country regularly struggles with serious water scarcity. Photo credit: Ralf Steinberger

Putting the U.S. Global Water Strategy into Action

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.

MENAdrought participants are trained on a drought monitoring tool known as the Composite Drought Index (CDI) during a recent workshop held in Cairo, Egypt. Photo credit: Louise Sarant

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.

A Historically Dry Region Poised to Become Drier Still

“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.”

In Morocco and elsewhere, drought can wreak havoc on agricultural production. Here, a farmer cultivates a field of dry powdery soil near Ben Guerir in central Morocco’s Rehamna Province. Photo credit: IWM

Staying Proactive: Developing Drought Monitoring and Early Warning Systems

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.”

A farmer holds a buoy aloft, found near the reservoir behind Morocco’s Lalla Takerkoust dam which is experiencing historically low water levels. Photo credit: IWMI

Promoting Self-Reliance through Local Ownership of Drought Management Plans

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.

MENAdrought’s Composite Drought Index maps the intensity of drought impact. Shown above, CDI reveals the impact of a serious drought that spread across in Jordan in early 2014. Image credit: IWMI

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.

Toward a More Water-Secure and Resilient Future

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.”

Sheep graze drought-damaged grass, near Moulay Brahim in Morocco’s Al Haouz Province. Photo credit: IWMI

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

Additional Resources:

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ Globalwaters

Lessons from Tanzania: Maximizing Market-Based Sanitation’s Potential

By: USAID Water Team
Events such as road shows and business-to-business meetings provide a chance to demonstrate WASH products to potential distributors, retailers, and customers down the supply chain. Photo credit: Hassan Litama

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.

Finding the Right Formula to Strengthen the Supply Chain

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.

With training, a mason can improve a traditional latrine with a SATO product in approximately one hour. Photo credit: Cornelius Sindikira

“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.

Reaching Customers Where They Are

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.

Training masons to install LIXIL’s SATO products supported access to improved sanitation by ensuring end customers can easily find a professional in their area to install their new SATO latrines. Photo credit: Cornelius Sindikira

“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

Additional Resources:

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ Globalwaters

Scaling Up Financing for Urban Sanitation in Senegal

By: USAID Water Team

A small family-owned business becomes a leading sanitation service provider in Senegal.

Senegal’s only female emptier assists with a fecal sludge emptying operation in a fecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP). Photo credit: WASH-FIN

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.

A worker cleans the FSTP’s screen, which is used to retain the solid waste contained in the fecal sludge. Photo credit: WASH-FIN

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’s Sanitation Sector

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.

Mechanical emptying of fecal sludge is much safer than manual emptying, and waste is easier to transport for treatment. Photo credit: WASH-FIN

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.

The Omni Processor converts wet sewage into dry solids and water vapor. Photo credit: WASH-FIN

Converting Waste into Energy

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.

Implications for Future Interventions in Senegal and Globally

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.

The Omni Processor technology converts fecal sludge into clean electricity, nutrient-rich ash that can be used in agriculture, and clean water. Here several workers inspect the shredding machine located in the dried sludge storage room. Photo credit: WASH-FIN

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

Additional Resources:

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ Water Integrity Network

A novel method to measure corruption in urban water and sanitation

By: Water Integrity Network

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.


Can you improve what you can’t measure?

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.


Leveraging increasing data availability and advances in analytics to develop new measures for integrity

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:

  1. Public investment projects
  2. Recurrent spending supporting ongoing operations
  3. Client-utility interactions

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).

Our new working paper explains the building blocks of the Water Integrity Risk Index and presents results for selected cities..

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.


Water Integrity Risk Index
The index captures even small changes in risk levels over time

WIRI preliminary results – from GTI-WIN Working Paper


An actionable index focusing on sector-specific corruption risks

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:

  • monitoring, auditing, and investigations of corruption risks;
  • informing sector-wide policy decisions, for example on regulation and oversight; and
  • supporting civil society and other stakeholders to hold governments accountable and advocate for better services


Building integrity in cities: WIRI for your city?

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.

☑ ☆ ✇ UN-Water Affiliated News

COVID-19 pandemic and the human rights to water and sanitation

By: Anna Nylander

  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.

☑ ☆ ✇ Globalwaters

Five Ways USAID is Supporting Sustainable Sanitation

By: USAID Water Team

Five Ways USAID Is Supporting Sustainable Sanitation

USAID’s partnership with LIXIL formalizes work already happening in the sanitation marketplace in half a dozen African countries where women are trained as sales agents and “demand activators” for affordable latrine products, such as the blue plastic SATO Pan. Photo credit: Dorothy Nabatanzi

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.

1. Partnering with the Private Sector

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.”

Training masons to build quality latrines is one way USAID is ensuring sustainable sanitation in places like Uganda. Photo credit: Stephanie Holtstein

2. Building Capacity of Local Entrepreneurs

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.

A sanitation entrepreneur at work in Haiti. Photo credit: Haiti WatSan

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.

Public sanitation facilities have become a symbol of dignity, safety, and a source of income for women in urban India. Photo credit: CURE

3. Working within Systems of Government

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.

A sanitation enterprise offers affordable ready-to-install toilets in Enugu, Nigeria. Photo credit: FSG

4. Applying Sanitation Research to Influence Policy and Practice

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.

Achieving safely managed sanitation services requires that all parts of this service chain are functioning so that waste is safely treated and disposed. Photo credit: Yusuf Ahmad/USAID IUWASH PLUS

5. Considering the Whole Sanitation Service Chain

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.

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IAHR host Young Professionals online Congress

By: Anna Nylander

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

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More transparency in Brazil’s water sector national information system

By: Water Integrity Network

In Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan, the development and implementation of Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources, have been an opportunity to build participation and bring new actors to the table -including civil society and basin committees- to improve and increase the availability of information on water resources in Brazil. 

In April 2020, the #WaterOpenGov Community of Practice spoke with Marcus Fuckner, Coordinator of Planning Area Situation and Information Management at Brazil’s National Water Agency (ANA), on the open government commitments for water included in Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.


Understanding Brazil’s Water Governance

The National Policy of Water Resources (PNRH), defined in 1997 by the law Nº 9.433, also called the “Law of Waters”, is the cornerstone of water governance legislation in Brazil. The PNRH structured, oriented and modernized the administration of Brazil’s water resources. In 2000, Law No 9.984 established the National Water Agency (ANA) as the responsible entity to implement the national policy and to coordinate the National Management System of Water Resources (SINGREH).

ANA implements the PNRH in Brazil through water allocation terms and the regulatory framework, in addition to five official policy instruments: water resource plans, water permits, water quality objectives, water charges, and information systems.



Water management in Brazil is decentralized and managed at different levels by different entities. States and Federal Districts work with additional instruments to manage the water bodies under their control.

The National Management System of Water Resources (SINGREH) is a cooperative mechanism for water management which brings together entities from different levels.



Currently, the sanitation portfolio (which covers drinking water supply services, sanitary sewerage, urban cleaning and solid waste management, and drainage and rainwater management) is shared between the Ministry of Regional Development’s (MDR) National Secretariat of Sanitation and the regulatory bodies of the States and municipalities, with occasional service outsourcing to private companies in certain municipalities. At the time of this publication, a bill is under debate at the National Congress that would modify the regulatory framework for sanitation in the country, giving regulatory powers to the ANA, which would make it the National Agency for Water and Basic Sanitation.


Developing Brazil’s 4th Open Government National Action Plan

Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan contains 11 commitments, which were discussed and designed with the participation of 105 individuals (representatives of 88 institutions, including 39 civil society organizations, 39 Federal Public Administration bodies and 10 State and Municipal Public Administration bodies). The Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), which coordinates the Alliance for Open Government in Brazil led the process of developing the Action Plan.

The methodology included the discussion of challenges and then the definition of commitments through co-creation workshops, i.e. meetings with equal participation of government specialists and civil society on the prioritized issues. The process was meant as democratic and designed to open the floor to issues beyond those prioritized by government bodies.

Several topics were thus addressed:

  • Structural issues, which their very nature, have the potential to improve Open Government policies in Brazil;
  • Issues prioritized by the government,which have been identified and proposed by government bodies as being of strategic importance for the Federal Government to move forward on matters of open government;
  • Issues prioritized by civil society and selected through a public consultation on thematic proposals.

The topic of water resources was brought in via civil society participation, as the third most-voted for during the online consultation phase.

Two co-creation workshops were held in May and August of 2018 to define Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources. One workshop sought to identify the problems and their respective potential solutions, and the other was designed to formulate the commitment. Commitment 10 is linked to target 6.5 of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water. It focuses on improving the National Information System of Water Resources (SNIRH) portal, first published in 2016, with the aim of providing more transparency on the water situation in the country, to address challenges in improving its availability in terms of quality and quantity.


ANA’s involvement in the Open Government Commitment on water

As the process of developing the OGP Action Plan was ongoing, the CGU contacted the Board of Directors of the ANA and the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), to which ANA reported until December 2018, to highlight the government’s work with transparency in water issues.

During the process of co-creating Commitment 10, it was recognized that ANA is responsible for a) systematic monitoring of the water resources b) the preparation of annual reports of the Brazilian Water Resources Overview and c) the coordination and management of SNIRH. The CGU then proposed that ANA coordinate the water commitment included in the OGP Action Plan.

The full process has helped to deepen ANA’s work on access to water resources information and data. Currently, ANA has its own open data portal, in addition to making data available on the Brazilian Open Data Portal platform

ANA has defined priority databases to make available in open formats, based on the most frequent information requests made through Citizen Information Services (SIC) of public administrations (established through Brazil’s Access to Information Law (Law No. 12,527 of 2011).


Implementing Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources

Launched in August 2018, the implementation process of Commitment 10 on Water Resources comprised a set of eight compliance milestones.

Public institutions such as ANA, the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) and CGU were some of the actors involved in implementation along withcivil society organozations such as Artigo 19, Fundación Esquel, Water Governance Observatory, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the University of São Paulo. CGU held six meetings with stakeholders throughout the process, to work towards the milestones and to address common challenges, including for example the required changes in the administrative structure.

Critical river basins were identified to carry out improvements. A pilot training workshop was held for a specific river basin committee (Paranapanema river basin, in the State of São Paulo and Paraná) and another extended workshop was held at the Annual National Meeting of River Basin Committees (ENCOB), in October 2019.

Moreover, civil society organizations Artigo 19 and Fundación Esquel organized an online consultation to propose further improvements to the SNIRH.

Improvements to the SNIRH carried out in the implementation of Commitment 10 now have important benefits.


Lessons learned from implementing Commitment 10 on Water Resources: the need to plan a sustainable process

An important lesson learned from implementing Commitment 10 on Water Resources came to the fore from the uneven level of participation between institutions throughout the implementation process. The change of government in Brazil (2018/2019) and the changes that occurred in the institutional matrix of SINGREH influenced the actions of some participating partner institutions, making it difficult to implement some actions previously planned in the commitment. In particular, it affected the participation of the National Water Resources Council (CNRH) and the availability of resources for the participation of representatives of basin committees and civil society in the workshops. To mitigate this, an online workshop was planned.

As a suggestion for future action plans and for other member countries of the OGP, the duration and timing of the Action Plan commitments should be carefully considered to limit the impact of changes in the administrative structure when implementation extends over two administrations.

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12 November: Water Day at Race-to-Zero dialogues

By: Anna Nylander

On 9-19 November the High-Level Champions for Global Climate Action are convening the Race to Zero Dialogues, in close collaboration with the Marrakech Partnership. The Race To Zero Dialogues will … Read more

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☑ ☆ ✇ Water Integrity Network

Water integrity is a woman’s issue

By: Ivanna

Despite the prominent role of women in managing household water and their specific water and sanitation needs, women  are rarely consulted about the provision and delivery of water services, and women’s needs for water for families or for irrigation are often given a low priority by water managers and decision-makers. This is a failure of integrity. Corruption in water and sanitation further increases the burden on women and girl children fetching and managing water, and puts their health and safety at risk.

How does this play out and what can we do about it? How are women specifically affected by water sector corruption, including sextortion?

Let’s find out…


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Partner survey and partner meeting 2020

By: Water Integrity Network

WIN conducted a detailed Partner survey in 2020. Thirty one partners working at the international, national and regional level responded to the survey. The questions we asked related to integrity issues and how these affect the work of our partners. We also looked at potential areas of collaboration.

See full report:



Some responses from partners on the incidence of corruption in the water and sanitation sector include:

  • “Corruption in the sector is well hidden especially when it involves big companies or big projects. The participants are usually well-versed in handling the money through offshore/shell companies which is difficult to trace. These offshore companies are used to transfer shares in an opaque manner.”
  • “The process of changing mindsets takes long especially where even the community is involved in corruption. We are also perceived as a threat by the people in power especially when it comes to advocating for disclosure of budgets and amounts expended.”
  • “Investments in rural water and sanitation by municipal, state and/or federal governments do not respond to local needs, are priced at a premium and do not comply with the rules of operation, therefore, in the end, there is poor infrastructure, of poor quality that is quickly abandoned.”
  • “Citizens are often aware of these issues but they are not motivated to demand their rights, thinking this would not be implemented due to the integrity environment.”


Partner meeting 2020

These partner survey results were presented at the annual WIN partner meeting which took place in August 2020.  The partner meeting was an opportunity for us to plan jointly with partners for 2021 and beyond and to share ideas and aspirations. For the first time, the meeting went online, enabling more of our implementation partners across countries of focus to participate actively and to share their experience and insight in the deliberations. A total of 50 participants including a full house of all WIN staff members took part.

See Partner Meeting notes:

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WSSCC is transforming into the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund

By: Anna Nylander

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) will cease to exist as of 31 December 2020, when the organization will become the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF). The Fund … Read more

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UN expert: At time of crisis, we must guarantee water and sanitation for all

By: Anna Nylander

The third Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, was appointed in September 2020 and took over the mandate on 1 November.  … Read more

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