USAID’s new water strategy – when the numbers don’t add up

Thoughts on the USAID Water Strategy

water services that last

By Harold Lockwood  (Aguaconsult)

Well, probably it’s a cliché, but the USAID water strategy has had the gestation period of an elephant, but the good news is that now it’s out and its congratulations to the team in the water office of USAID for pulling this together and for bringing a clear focus on water for human consumption and agricultural production – two basic building blocks of life. No doubt it was a challenging and sensitive task to take into account all of the competing interests across USAID’s many areas of strategic intervention. For the first time in years this strategy provides a focus, a hook, on which to understand and engage with USAID around the core issue of water and sanitation.

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“We ate all the meat; there are only bones to chew on now”

analysis of life cycle costs in Honduras

water services that last

Comimos toda la carne; sólo nos quedan los huesos” (we ate all the meat; there are only bones to chew on now”, said Luis Romero of CONASA (the water and sanitation policy making body in Honduras), in response to the graphs below, when we presented these as part of the sharing of the results of the life-cycle costs analysis in Honduras.

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Rethinking Data: Part 2- Graphing “Open” Data

Interesting mapping of funding data

The Water Wonk

a continuation from Rethinking Data: Part 1

Two weeks ago I posted a blog about open data in WaSH- the challenges in gaining sector buy-in and our responsibility to promote open data (read it here:  The Wild-Card: Open Data). After the Akvo Track-Day event, I had a great conversation with Henry Jewell about what do we do with open data once we have it. Once it’s on the internet, is anyone really using it? What are the using it for? Is it making an impact?

I realized that while I promote open data, but I do very little with it. I’ve used some open data to generate statistics for reports and info graphics. I’ve even used some as a primary research data source. But the real point of open data is to improve public understanding of a given topic and influence future policy/decision making, from a national level…

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Country-led Monitoring of Rural Water Supplies — Is It Just a Dream?

re-blogged from Editor’s Note:This guest blog was authored by Dr. Kerstin Danert, water and sanitation specialist at the Swiss-based Skat Foundation. Kerstin discusses country-led monitoring and why it’s important for developing country governments to lead the WASH monitoring process. An online community is being formed around country-led monitoring efforts. If you’d like to learn more about … Continue reading Country-led Monitoring of Rural Water Supplies — Is It Just a Dream?

Follow the leader: country-led services monitoring

great blog on country-led monitoring, by Susan Davis

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director, Improve International

I recently completed an online course on Country-led Monitoring & Evaluation Systems through My M&E.  It was encouraging to learn about some governments that are leading the way, because institutionalizing monitoring and evaluation can lead to improved services.

However, we also learned that the potential benefits of monitoring and evaluation are often limited because:

  • Many monitoring surveys and evaluations are one-off with no follow-up
  • Many evaluations are largely funded and managed by donors with little country ownership. National governments might not even get the opportunity to see the reports.
  • Much monitoring and evaluation is method-driven, not utilization driven – that is, even if the findings are actionable, programs or policies aren’t actually updated based on the findings

This image below, from a summary of one of the sessions at the Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery Symposium, shows how desperately some coordination and…

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Meters for Management

Can water meters make a difference?

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director, Improve International

The 2012 Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS report) indicates that official development assistance for water, sanitation and hygiene interventions was $7.8 billion in 2011. However, only 7% of the overall investment was allocated to maintaining and sustaining existing infrastructure. This lack of foresight plagues the sector, with persistently high water system failure rates often attributed to a lack of skills and finances for infrastructure management.

Many water managers and global research projects like WASHCost are recognizing that the common method of charging each household a flat fee for water is not putting enough money in water committee accounts to pay for ongoing maintenance and repair. Plus, populations are growing and water scarcity is a concern in many areas.

There’s a simple tool that is helping to improve management for many systems: the water meter. Just like here in…

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