We are well into 2017 already, but it is still a good moment to look back to some highlights of 2016 from the point of view of Self-supply:
- In the first half of 2016, the UNICEF-funded studies of Self-supply in Zambia and Zimbabwe were completed. The studies showcase these two experiences at scale, and they are the fundament for making an economic case for Self-Supply , demonstrating that using Self-supply as part of the strategies to reach full coverage can be very cost-effective.
- In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a 2nd national meeting on Self-supply was organized bringing together dozens of national stakeholders involved in the scaling up of Self-supply at country level through the national ONE WASH Programme.
- The 2016 edition of the WEDC conference also saw its share of Self-supply: A paper presented by Annemarieke Maltha (on experiences of the SMART Centre approach in Tanzania) and one by Sally Sutton on the experiences in Zambia, among others.
- The RWSN mini-series of webinars in the autumn 2016 included an event on Self-supply, focusing on the economic analysis of country strategies in Zambia and Zimbabwe (see recordings of the webinar here).
- Self-supply also made a splash at the 7th RWSN Forum in Abidjan (29.11 – 03.12.2016), with 7 sessions related to Self-supply (see a list of Self-supply papers here). Apart from the frequent appearance of the Self-supply Theme in the sessions it also was notable to see how often the term came up in discussions and in plenary speeches, including within the panel of the closing ceremony.
- At the same event, a bottom-up, spontaneous initiative of a small group of people helped to engage in conversations with many of the participants of the Forum and resulted in 150 signing a paper confirming their personal approval and support of the Self-supply approach.
- As one possible way of implementing Self-Supply, the initiative of SMART Centre Group emerged and gained traction throughout the year. SMART Centres are business incubators which foster the local private sector in the WASH sector. Currently, there are SMART Centres in 5 countries formally recognized as such (see smartcentregroup.com), but many other organizations are implementing similar concepts around the world, and it will be interesting to see how these different initiatives can support each other and create synergies – or even merge – in the future.
Overall, it has been a fantastic year for Self-supply. Especially if we consider that the term “Self-supply” did not even exist before 2004 (when it was created by RWSN), it is remarkable that after a relatively slow process of foundation building we are now witnessing the moment when Self-supply is getting into mainstream – and hopefully we will see a wider use and further development of the concept in the near future. On behalf of RWSN, and particularly Skat as the lead agency for the Self-supply theme, we are encouraged by the results achieved so far and look forward to the next phase of development – and to another year of progress, exchange and learning with our RWSN partners.
If you are interested in Self-supply, you may want to subscribe to the Self-supply Dgroup (https://dgroups.org/rwsn/selfsupply_rwsn), or check out the respective part of the RWSN website: https://dgroups.org/rwsn/selfsupply_rwsn.
Matthias Saladin is the Theme leader of Accerating Self-supply at the Rural Water Supply Network. You can leave comments or questions here or write to him: email@example.com.