Addressing failure in rural water supply in Africa – how we can all do better (Video)

In his key note speech, Professor Richard Carter urged the delegation at the 41st IAH Congress to do more to explain why groundwater matters and why hydrogeological science is important. "I wish there was a District Water Officer or a Finance Minister speaking here, perhaps both instead of me, asking you what all this groundwater … Continue reading Addressing failure in rural water supply in Africa – how we can all do better (Video)

Changing the game

water services that last

For decades the water sector has been driven by providing first time access. Now that system must provide permanent water services and it can’t, without a fundamental change. Triple-S has worked over the past years to understand and strengthen the building blocks  that are critical in determining whether water and sanitation services will last- or investments will simply be wasted.
In preparation of a ‘post aid era’ where developing countries are increasingly self-reliant, country leadership and sector capacities are crucial game changers. In his blog  End of Aid Ton Schouten argued that development aid should focus on improving a country’s rural water sector to deliver services without on-going external support. This also means a shift away from uncoordinated projects by non governmental organisations working in parallel projects. And regulation and an environment that enables private sector involvement in the sector.
IRc event
Last week, IRC invited a group of stakeholders from the Dutch WASH sector to discuss the opportunities and pitfalls…

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Water on the brain: the discomfort of cognitive dissonance

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

Are you working on international development? Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable? This might sound a bit like a commercial for Alka Seltzer, but really it’s about cognitive dissonance. This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time (

Maybe it's cognitive dissonance? Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance?

If, when confronted about the way you work, you’ve ever explained it by saying, “Well, that’s the way I’ve always done it,” you may be suffering from cognitive dissonance.

In the water sector, there seem to be several conflicting yet strongly held beliefs and actions:

  • Belief: Water is a human right, and those of us with plenty of access to it don’t think twice about why we have it. Conflicting action: We feel obligated to justify to donors “why water” is important (see examples here

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Can failed water & sanitation projects cause harm? Quote from a recent evaluation

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

A recent AidSpeak blog asked “Is any harm being done?” It was about “amateur do-gooder, voluntourism” but much of it could apply to international development. I wanted to share this excerpt from the Madagascar WASH Sector Sustainability Check because it nicely summarizes the harm that can indeed be done by “slippage” (aka “the crisis of rural WASH ‘sustainability’ across the developing world” aka failure):

It is a fact that, in most developing countries, a significant proportion of rural water systems do not function within a relatively short period of being installed, that many rural sanitation facilities are not used either properly or at all, that declarations of total sanitation (communities free from open defecation) are too often superseded by a reversion to old habits, and that hygiene behaviours fade over time.

This crisis threatens progress across the rural WASH sector, and therefore is hampering economic…

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Making Impact Evaluation Matter

Ralph P Hall

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the Making Impact Evaluation Matter conference in Manila, hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 3ie, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). During the conference, I took part in a WASH Impact Evaluation Design Clinic and gave a presentation on the results of the impact evaluation I directed of the MCC-funded Rural Water Supply Program in Nampula, Mozambique. Whereas the final impact evaluation report was based on all of the data we collected, the results I presented in Manila focused only on the panel data obtained from the baseline (2011) and follow-up (2013) studies. The results from the panel data analysis (shown in the presentation below) align well with those developed from the full data set.


During the conference, Eric Vance spoke about his LISA2020 vision to create 20 statistical consulting laboratories in 20 developing countries by the year 2020. Eric is the…

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WASH can have health impacts beyond reducing diarrhea

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

This week, I participated in the WASH & Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Roundtable in London. This is the second such roundtable (the first was in Seattle two years ago). The purpose of this roundtable was to encourage deeper collaboration, coordination, and cooperation between the WASH and NTD organizations and donors, especially in areas of mapping, data collection, monitoring, and research. Interestingly, several of the people attending were from organizations in Atlanta (The Carter Center, Emory University, Children without Worms, Task Force for Global Health, Improve International, etc.)

Being in this piece of the former Roman empire, with its aqueducts and baths, is a reminder that for centuries, humans have recognized the vital roles that access to safe water, toilets, and sewers and practicing good hygiene play in maintaining human health and dignity. Despite this, development professionals still feel obligated to justify investments in water, sanitation…

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Water Supply in Lagos and Nigeria – the importance of manual drilling

Nigeria has become increasingly dependent on groundwater over the last 20 years. Groundwater (from hand dug wells, boreholes/tubewells and springs) is the main source of drinking water for over 100 million people in the country. But how many people know about this, and what it means for the practices, policies and politics of Africa’s most … Continue reading Water Supply in Lagos and Nigeria – the importance of manual drilling