I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Water & Health Conference at the University of North Carolina. I was even luckier to make it as the skirts of Hurricane Sandy swept up the Atlantic coast before crashing into the American North East.
It was a great opportunity to meet, face-to-face, many RWSN members who have been communicating with online and meet a whole bunch of new people. It was really inspiring to hear their stories and find out more about their organisations and research. Here are just some of my highlights from the event:
- SustainableWASH.org is a recent consortium comprising Aguaconsult, Global Water Challenge, IRC and WASH Advocates and they launched a revamped website that includes, among other things, the WASH Monitoring Exchange (WASHME) (see this blog post from Improve International) and a database where resources can be rated by users.
- Very interesting – and different – implementation models by WaterCan, Water For People, Living Water International, Water Missions International, Splash, Water4 Foundation, Water.org many more.
- There were some important debate on undervalued issues, such as Menstrual Hygiene and its importance as part of the human right to water and a proxy for gender equality.
- Evaluation of the Sustainability of Water and Sanitation Interventions in Central America after Hurricane Mitch – a great presentation that should how WASH functionality has varied over the last 12 years.
- Excellent presentations on self supply by Dr Grace Oluwasanya, Federal University of Agriculture, Nigeria (pictured) and Mike MacCarthy, of University of South Florida, USA
- Great presentations on handpump sustainability studies in Ghana by Dr Sara Marks from the John Hopkins University, USA.
- A lot of interest and activity in the field of household water treatment and safe storage – led by the network of that name.
- There were also lots of active debates on monitoring, indicators and the use of mobile phone technology in both improving data collection and also providing realtime service response – though it was pointed out that in this field, the Health Sector is perhaps a year or so ahead of WASH. There were great presentations from Water.org, Next Drop, Aquaya and the Pacific Institute.
- The plenary sessions included debates on the post-MDG global monitoring indicators for water from the working groups involved, and frank presentation from Tessie San Martin, the Director of Plan International USA, on how they have learnt from past mistakes so make their ongoing work more sustainable.
Overall, the conference was great interface between practitioners and researchers and is well worth future involvement by RWSN partners. If you went, what were your highlights?
If you have any suggestions for topics and presentations that we could put forward for a side event then please get in touch.