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Self-supply: why I wrote the book

by Dr Sally Sutton, SWL Consultants, on her new book “Self-supply: Filling the gaps in public water supply provision” available to buy, or free to download from Practical Action Publishing from 15 February 2021.

Moving from deserts to humid lands

After 14 years working as a hydrogeologist in the deserts of the Middle East on traditional water supplies and wellfield construction, I moved to sub-Saharan Africa, which presented a whole new challenge.

The easier availability of water was the most obvious difference – sometimes too much so (see photo)- but other important ones were the low quality of water and scattered population.

New challenges – Large areas with accessible groundwater and sparse populations – water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.
Continue reading “Self-supply: why I wrote the book”

My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Amanda Mugwambi, a young professional from Zimbabwe enrolled as a mentee in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.

I’m Amanda Mugwambi from Zimbabwe. I have been working in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector for over 5 years in addition to four years prior of environmental management. I am currently working as a Public Health Promoter for an international NGO. I have had the opportunity to work in both urban and rural projects. It has been fulfilling to see community transformation through donor funding complimenting stakeholder efforts and community engagement.

I heard about the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) mentoring programme through my country’s WASH National Coordination Unit. I was interested in the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to advance my career and to hear about experiences in other countries. I must admit, I had a bit of trouble in the application process where I had to outline my expectations from being part of the programme. I just didn’t seem to be able to mainstream my thoughts. I wanted to know more about everything! When I finally managed to submit my application, I was anxious to find out who my mentor would be. I hoped they would be able to provide the right balance of academic and professional development.  I was matched with Susana Sandoz, a WASH specialist, currently a consultant with UNICEF. RWSN really did an excellent job pairing us! Not only is Susana a seasoned expert but her experience with UNICEF which funds some of the projects I have been working on gave me an extra understanding.

We began the mentorship process with Susana helping me gather my thoughts by streamlining topics that we would like to discuss over the duration of the programme. We communicated via email, whatsapp and skype. We had our first session in April 2020 via skype. To be honest, it was so easy talking to her. I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. We met online once a week on skype, then we’d decide on the topic for the following week. Susana would send me literature to review so that I could note down any questions for our next meeting. My favorite part of our sessions was when Susana would tell about her experiences in the different countries she had worked in, some of them were very applicable to Zimbabwe. It was relatable and gave me an insight on how to find solutions to the challenges I faced.

I have a keen interest in School WASH. I particularly liked the sessions on hygiene promotion, menstrual hygiene management, handwashing, child protection, emergency management, disaster risk reduction especially considering the Covid-19 pandemic. I have learnt the importance of using emotional triggers to reinforce positive behavior change such as effective handwashing. And I have also learnt more about community engagement to ensure the success of water and sanitation projects. It is crucial to trigger community members early for them to realize the importance of zero open defecation and the safe water chain to improve their health and hygiene. Below is the list of all the topics we discussed:

DateSession#Topic
15 Apr1COVID 19, Handwashing
22 Apr2Sanitation and Sato Pans
29 Apr3Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
6 May4Disability and Inclusion
13 May5Monitoring & Evaluation; Communication for Disasters
20 May6Latrine types: advantages and disadvantages
3 June7Sustainability
10 June8Development and Environmental Issues
15 June9Communication for development (C4D)
24 June10Social Norms changes
14 July11Emergencies in WASH
21 July12Water Quality and Water Treatment
28 July13Why is Sanitation Important and Advocating for Sanitation
5 Aug14The Burden of COVID-19
13 Aug15Advocacy
21 Aug16Gender
25 Aug17Child Protection
3 Sep18Climate Change
8 Sep19Skills for Interviews
15 Sep20Hygiene Promotion
29 Sep21Capacity Building
6 Oct22WASH in Schools and COVID-19 Reduction
13 Oct23Types of Rural Water Supply Systems
20 Oct24Pollution Analysis of Water Supply Systems
27 Oct25Pollution Analysis of Water Supply Systems
11 Nov26Urban and Rural Characteristics and Different Approaches in WASH
17 Nov27Urban and Rural Characteristics and Different Approaches in WASH
23 Nov28General Climate Change Summary
7 Dec29How to obtain an Enabling Environment
15 Dec30Income Generating Activities, General Advice for Latrine Building Questions on topics previously discussed

I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the RWSN mentorship. A special thanks to Susana, I really enjoyed the sessions, always informative and flexible. We also developed a friendship over the months which was pleasant and has improved our mental health during the pandemic. In our case we have agreed to continue checking up on each other at least once a month. I encourage young professionals to join the RWSN network as it’s a platform for continuous learning and for personal and professional development.

About the author

Amanda Mugwambi holds an MSc in Disaster Management and a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Science and Technology (NUST) Zimbabwe. Her interests range from WASH, climate change adaptation and Disaster Management.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.

Coming soon: USAID Pro-WASH webinar series on Operation & Maintenance

Join PRO-WASH for a new webinar series focused on operation and maintenance of WASH infrastructure!

This four-part series will share lessons learned from USAID partners focusing on innovative advances in approaches to operation and maintenance (O&M) of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure. Speakers will discuss their program’s approaches to engineering, environmental, financial, and political-economy challenges, and aim to draw out important lessons that are more widely applicable. During this webinar series, attendees will learn more about:

Continue reading “Coming soon: USAID Pro-WASH webinar series on Operation & Maintenance”

RWSN opportunity: part-time moderator for RWSN discussion platforms

Skat Foundation is looking for a part-time co-moderator of the RWSN online platforms from the Global South. The post will be a consultancy or paid Internship position in the RWSN Secretariat. If your application is successful you will receive a contract up to 31 July 2021 (containing about 1-2 days per week) which could be extended until the end of this year and beyond if performance is good.

Application deadline: 13:00 GMT 24 February 2021

Online Application form

Skat Foundation is looking for a part-time co-moderator of the RWSN online platforms from the Global South. The post will be a consultancy or paid Internship position in the RWSN Secretariat. If your application is successful you will receive a contract up to 31 July 2021 (containing about 1-2 days per week) which could be extended until the end of this year and beyond if performance is good.

Continue reading “RWSN opportunity: part-time moderator for RWSN discussion platforms”

Consultancy – Safe/Small Water Enterprise Consumer Knowledge Curation Phase 1

RWSN Member Organisations, Water4, Safe WaterNetwork, Water for Good and Water Mission have released an interesting consultancy opportunity.

Download the ToRs

Deadline is 19 February 2021

Please note that this is not an RWSN project so please contact Anna Rohwer at Water4 for queries and to apply

The world isn’t running out of water… it is running low on clean water

by Lalit Bajare, Nixie Engineers, India

Hi! A chemical engineer by education; I have been a water and wastewater treatment professional for last 24 years. Having started career at Ion Exchange (I) ltd; Mumbai in 1996, I moved to Singapore and worked with Hyflux and Chartered Semiconductor Mfg Ltd for around 5 years before moving back to India and starting on my own as “Nixie Engineers Pvt Ltd”.

Continue reading “The world isn’t running out of water… it is running low on clean water”

My experience of the RWSN Mentoring Programme

This is a guest blog by Janvier Ngabo, a RWSN young professional enrolled in the 2020 RWSN Mentoring Programme.

My name is Janvier NGABO, from Rwanda. I currently work as a project officer in the department of natural resources management in the organization IPFG, working in southern province of Rwanda. My daily work is to help targeted communities in climate change adaptation and mitigation, focusing on natural resource management and their effective use, with a more emphasis on water and soil natural resources. I am a member of Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). 

The RWSN has the goodwill of organizing mentorship activities in their Mentorship Programme for young professionals, where experienced and skilled RWSN members engaged in helping young professionals in their careers, to help them increase their skills. For the occasion, at the starting of the year 2020, the RWSN organized such mentorship activities. I took advantage of the activity and so got engaged in, as a mentee. It was for the RWSN secretariat to find mentors for the engaged mentees, and for the occasion, I got a mentor, Mr. Nura Boru, experienced personnel in hydraulic engineering, Postgraduate programs, and Research Coordinator, in Haramaya Institute of Technology, Haramaya University, in Ethiopia.  I and my mentor agreed on the way to work and the agenda to follow during the whole working period, till the end of the 2020 year, as planned by the RWSN secretariat.

I and my mentor agreed to discuss on the following topics:

  • Sustainable water resources use;
  • Rainwater harvesting technologies in rural areas (focusing on roof rainwater harvesting technologies);
  • Risks & impact assessment on rainwater harvesting system, focusing on the impact of roof rainwater harvesting on the reduction of soil erosion.

Depending on the subject discussed, intense discussions were done, where most discussions were done through email where my mentor provided some reading that includes some research done as well as modules on the topics discussed. The email channel also served to provide works for more understanding. Skype discussions were done to evaluate the progress, but not frequently done because of the problems of networks on both sides.

From the mentorship activities, I gained more knowledge and improved on different topics in water resource management.

I understand more about the rationale of harvesting rainwater. I understood more the need for water especially in semi-arid zones, as well as some problems water can cause. For that instance, I got that there is a need worldwide, to manage that resource in need but that can cause various problems, to manage it and promote its use, essentially in agricultural production.

I improved on the way to conduct a baseline on the water need at the household and institutional level and the way of designing its storage tank. We used in our organization to recruit consultants if such studies were needed. But from this moment, I can conduct a kind of study in my organization without the recourse of consultants. Of course, I can do consultation work for the topics for other people and institutions in need!

We didn’t stop on roof rainwater harvesting part only; we tried to understand the rationale behind rainwater harvesting, and its contribution to the reduction of erosion, especially in my “country of thousands hills” (Rwanda), where the loss of soil through erosion is intense. By this topic, I started the short study regarding the contribution of roof rainwater harvesting on the reduction of erosion in my community. My mentor agreed to guide me in the continuation of such studies.

Photo: my mentor and me, discussing on Skype

We really appreciated the commitment of the RWSN members to help improving the communities and entire world in water management supply and use, while no one is left behind. That desire and commitment to help everyone who needs the support in the network and beyond it is a golden value from the Almighty God. In my career, I will be guided by it, and help any person who needs my support as I can, without envisaging anything in return.

I appreciated the mentorship activity and the way it was conducted. I learnt a lot and I continue to gain more knowledge in the RWSN. More thanks go to the RWSN and its secretariat, may the almighty God bless them. We wish this kind of training or mentorship to continue for other young professionals. We wish also the continuity of the relationship between mentors and mentees.  In our case, I (Mr. Janvier NGABO) and my mentor (Mr. Nura Boru) agreed to continue the interactions. Overall, from this program, we have gained different skills.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, see here. RWSN thanks the Swiss Development Cooperation and World Vision for their support to the mentoring programme in 2020.

Strengthening WASH systems in Bangladesh

by Anisul Azam Khan BA (Hons) MA,
Chief Executive, LORDS Bangladesh

WASH means Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.   People cannot live with out WASH. It is the part and parcel of a human  life. WASH is the symbol of civilization in the modern age. We say water is life: according to scientists, all kinds of species of life originated in water, a human body  is 70% water, and all  civilization was created in river basins. I don’t want to write more about water.

Sanitation is another vital  component of human life. The symbol of modern  civilization means sanitation system of a home. A dirty and  unhygienic toilet is the symbol of poor civilization.  A comparatively clean healthy toilet is the symbol of civilization. Once upon a time our society used dirty toilets, historically in Bangladesh this is not long ago. In our Society before hundred years a few numbers of people using sanitary latrine and rest of the people were non user of sanitary latrine.

Hygiene is the most important component of human life. Hygiene is divided into two parts: one is personal hygiene and another is community hygiene. Personal hygiene means – hand washing, mouth washing, cleaning the body and regular cutting of pubic hair, and regular cutting of nails etc.

Since the liberation war in 1971, Government and Non-Government Organisations  have been doing social movement WASH programmes all over the Bangladesh. But it is not sufficient for our society!  Bangladesh is a disaster-prone delta region. Every year, millions of people are affected by floods in the north and the  coastal belt of southern Bangladesh is hit by cyclones every year and the dreams of million people are destroyed. At the same time our WASH system is also demolished by the cyclone and flood every year.

The WASH system of Bangladesh needs to be strong and sustainable. It must be inclusive in its approach, not only benefiting a few people. WASH has to be for all! It is a basic human right for all people in society: men, women and children, the rich and the poor, all types of people have the right to access the WASH system. So, WASH systems need to available for all across the country, in both rural and urban areas, and they need to withstand the shocks of floods and cyclones.

We need measures for sustainable WASH systems in Bangladesh. From practical experience I recommend:

  1. All handpump platforms should be constructed with stronger and higher foundations so that the pump is above the high level of flood water in flood risk and cyclone-prone areas.
  2. All latrines in flood risk and cyclone-prone areas should be constructed with a stronger foundation that is above the likely floodwater level.
  3. In our country all people should maintain personal hygiene as well as community hygiene practice, as for example: regularly washing hands, wearing clean and hygienic clothes etc. Its need to campaign all over the country.

My name is Anisul Azam Khan, I have completed B.A(Hons), M.A in Social Work at Rajshahi Universityi, Bangladesh. Now I am volunteer with WaterAid Bangladesh. I have worked with National an International NGOs, such as PIACT Bangladesh, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, DPHE-DANIDA Project and Enfants du Monde(EDM Bangladesh). I am committed to establishing Local Resource Development Society (LORDS Bangladesh) A Non-Profit, Non-Political Development Organization.

Our goal is to improve the lifestyle of marginalised people, and our objectives are:

  • To develop capable human resources & skill development training.
  • To develop technical assistance for marginal People.
  • To promote Social Development activities.
  • To provide relief &Rehabilitation support to the disaster people after natural calamities

Notes: Local Resource Development Society (LORDS) Bangladesh is registered with the Directorate of Social Service Govt. of The People Republic of Bangladesh Vide Registration No Dha-06268. Rupayan Kutir, 33 North Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205 Bangladesh


About the RWSN member eXchange

Exchanging ideas and experience is at the heart of what RWSN is about, but the online world is overloaded with content. Over the last 6 years, RWSN has run over 120 webinars in 3 languages, but that is only scratching the surface of what is out there and we want to give a platform to our members who are working on rural water at an operational level around the world. The RWSN member eXchange is an experiment to see if we can do that.

If you would be interested in submitting a blog post or video then download the guidelines:

Disclaimer: Any claims in an RWSN member eXchange article or video have not been verified and any views presented or services provided the individual organisation are not necessarily endorsed by RWSN or any of it executive partners or Secretariat.

Crowding-in Commercial Financing to Water Supply and Sanitation Utilities

This is a guest blog by RWSN Members Lance Morrell and Michael Ashford.

Achieving SDG6, clean water, and sanitation for all by 2030 requires estimated investments of US$114 billion per year. The present value of the total investment needed is US$1.7 trillion, and these estimates do not include costs of operation and maintenance. At three times current levels, this far exceeds the financing capacity of the entire public sector and donor community, combined.  

We in the development community need new tools and approaches to address this gap. Using donor and public funds to “crowd-in” private investment can help. USAID’s recently announced Private-Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy, for example, recognizes the urgency of using development funding to attract private sector capital into development of infrastructure and services around the world. Similarly, USAID’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Finance (WASH-FIN) program is developing and piloting specific interventions to increase private and public investment in WASH. The World Bank’s Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) is another important source of information and successes on how to leverage the public and donor sectors’ financial power to increase private investment in public infrastructure and services. In all cases, the policies and prescriptions call for the use of market-based approaches as the only sustainable path to sustainably support communities in achieving development and humanitarian outcomes.

While “billions and trillions” of capital for WASH feels overwhelming, outside of 20th century Soviet-style economies, public infrastructure was never meant to be financed, funded, and operated with public resources alone. Commensurate with the growing financing gaps, there is today a glut of private sector capital looking for reliable investments that meet their investment criteria. Globally, pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and commercial banks hold approximately US$100 trillion in assets. In this light, the global financial system is out of balance, and the challenge is to attract private capital and other types of private sector participation into the water and sanitation sector. Development professionals, working with their government counterparts, must now “put skin in the game” without sacrificing the broader objective of shared, public benefits and economic growth.

Changing Project Funding to Crowd-In Private Investments

If the private sector has the capital needed to expand and improve the performance of the WASH sector, why haven’t governments been able to access it? How do we crowd-in the private sector?

The first step is to stop crowding-out private investment with donor funds. Governments and donors crowd-out private investors by providing grants or ill-designed concessional financing against which the private sector cannot compete. Financing and funding are products that banks and donors, respectively, want recipients to “buy;” the price is the interest rate. Free or cheap money from donors is not something private capital can beat.

There are numerous real-world examples of crowding-out in development, which follow the same basic scenario: Donor X works with a government to develop a project that will use public and donor funds to attract commercial financing to the project. In order to attract – or crowd-in – the commercial financing, government will work with financiers to understand their concerns and design appropriate risk mitigating measures. To crowd-in the private sector, the project designers require time to develop both the demand and the supply side. As this project preparation is proceeding and nearing agreement, Donor Y approaches the government and offers grant financing for 100 percent of the cost of the project, and crowds-out the private sector.

In contrast, as USAID’s PSE policy emphasizes, governments must engage and collaborate with the private sector, and the private sector must be allowed to manage its level of risk and to earn a reasonable profit. Adhering to an enterprise-driven development model, USAID and other donors are aiming to play a catalytic role in achieving results, rather than fully funding and managing the majority of its projects. The PSE model recognizes that the private sector represents nearly 90 percent of the direct foreign investment to developing countries, and the model represents a strategic approach through which USAID would consult and collaborate with the private sector for greater scale, sustainability and effectiveness. Under this approach, USAID will attract, or crowd-in, the private investors.

Increasing Government Commitment

Government is the key stakeholder in attracting private sector financing to the WASH sector. To effectively express these commitments, government officials need to understand the benefits and costs of the WASH sectorfrom the perspective of commercial finance. Some of the potential policies and actions include the following, with the commitment type identified in parentheses:

  • Sharing capital costs or providing limited guarantee of recovery of capital costs (lump sum);
  • Guaranteeing continuous payments during project performance to recover capital costs overtime or sharing in expected revenue from tariffs to cover financing costs (revenue flows);
  • Indirect market development by requiring improved operational performance of the utility, whether publicly or privately owned, to reduce expenses and increase revenue, so the utility can enter into direct lending arrangements (regulatory enforcement);
  • Contractually transferring asset management of utilities, if owned by government, through performance-based contracting with private sector service providers (give up control of asset).

Developing a business relationship between governments, utilities and commercial lenders takes time and patience, and the path forward should be gradual to allow all parties to develop trust and confidence. For example, commercial lenders could start with financing smaller projects that enhance revenue for the utility, such as new or upgraded water meters or increasing customer connections. If the utility then dedicates the additional revenue attributable to the project to the private investor, the private investor’s and utility’s interests align around ensuring performance during operation. After the loan is paid off, the additional revenue accrues back to the utility. Once the utility passes this kind of test with private investors, it can expand follow-on borrowing to finance further extensions of the water supply system –again using new cash flow that is “ring-fenced” to repay next the loan.  Meanwhile, scarce public funds are protected and can be used for projects which have high economic value but low financial viability, such as a new sewage treatment system. Overall, the goal is to create more incentives for private capital to partner with donors and government toward shared development goals.

About the authors

  • Lance Morrell is a financial specialist with more than 35 years of professional experience, and is the Founder and Managing Director of FEI Consulting;
  • Michael Ashford is senior clean energy and infrastructure professional with more than 20 years of experience, and is the Global Practice Lead for the Water, Energy, and Sustainable Cities practice at Chemonics International.

This blog post represent the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of Chemonics. Photo credit: Gerardo Pesantez / World Bank.