How a radio talk show is promoting WaSH in Northern Uganda

This is a guest blog by Justine Olweny, a Ugandan WASH entrepreneur and resource centre founder. You can find out more about his activities here.

“YOT KOM LONYO” (meaning “Health is wealth”) is a WaSH campaign radio program talk show conducted every Thursday from 16:00–17:00 hours East African Time. It encourages the involvement of local entrepreneurs, school leaders, pupils, politician, district technocrats, and partner representatives on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) promotion discussions. It has promoted the utilisation and ownership of WaSH products among the communities of Kitgum District.

The weekly talk show was started in September, 2018 and has so far covered 7 WaSH topics within 22 episodes.This involves the engagement of eight stakeholders within the region being represented in at least two sessions. This talk show was motivated by the need for community ownership in safe WaSH infrastructures created by difference agencies, including the government.

Mightyfire 91.5FM has a total coverage of about 1,500,000 listeners in Northern Uganda. It has made significant progress in reaching out to the majority of refugees from South Sudan in the local language Acholi, which is spoken by them. The intention was to prepare for the rainy season, which often leads to an increase in the prevalence of waterborne diseases, including cholera, through the production of short radio spots to promote hand-washing with soap before eating and boiling drinking water to avoid illness.

This 6-month partnership between Mightyfire 91.5FM and Water Access Consulting is a pilot project to explore the possibilities of promoting hygiene and sanitation products and services led by the communities of Kitgum District. It was inspired by the webinar From Beneficiaries to Business: Promising findings from customer-centered approaches to sustainable water services.


  • Improved pit toilets (DuraSan and the SaTo pan supported by the “Sanitation as a business” programme of Water for people Uganda) are being constructed by landlords, while demand for improved pit toilets has increased together with the services provided by the pit-emptying gulpers team of the Municipality.
  • The radio programme materials were developed in accordance with the context, with compelling radio programmes that engage listeners in good hygiene practices, and with references to Lifewater mWaSH and UNHCR WaSH manuals.


  • The materials and topics discussed are generated by the audience themselves, for example during a school Q&A session, and during interviews
  • The audience pay a lot of attention to jingles, and they memorise short spot messages instead of the entire radio talk show
  • It is very motivating for both parents, elders and pupils to listen to their recorded debate play over the radio.

What do you think? How can we create more WaSH service demand using media? Do you have any examples of good WaSH campaigns in the media, that have contributed to behavior change in WaSH? Please share your experiences below.

(Photo credit: Water Access Consulting Archive)

Why does accountability matter for sustainable water services?

By Louisa Gosling, WaterAid and Meleesa Naughton, RWSN Secretariat

RWSN has been exploring the question of accountability for sustainable rural water services over the past few months through an e-discussion, a workshop, and webinars in French, English, and Spanish.

What is accountability?

Accountability is a new topic for the Leave no one behind Theme of RWSN, and one that is difficult to translate in other languages: there is no direct translation of accountability in French and Spanish, for instance – we translated it as ‘responsibility’.  In the e-discussion, we initially defined social accountability as ‘an approach that refers to the extent and capacity of citizens to hold the state and service providers accountable, and make them responsive to needs of citizens and beneficiaries’. But through the e-discussion and in particular the webinar, we also heard of initiatives that seek to empower citizens to hold not only service providers (direct accountability) and governments (indirect accountability) for water services, but also donors.

So who should be held accountable for what?

The definition proposed by Catarina Fonseca of IRC, who presented some preliminary findings from a recent study during one of the RWSN webinars, is perhaps more appropriate: she defined accountability as ‘those who are responsible, accept responsibility for their actions and omissions and accept that they are called upon to give an account of why and how they have acted or failed to act.’

While accountability is often a bottom-up process in practice, with citizens and citizens’ organisations seeking to hold  service providers, governments and donors to account, duty-bearers also have an obligation to put in place effective accountability mechanisms that lead to actionable change. The study Catarina presented showed that accountability mechanisms for SDG6 for service providers and governments are often not available in many countries, and that when they exist, they are not effective and not systematic due to the lack of financing, lack of monitoring data and reporting, and limited participation of civil society organisations.

What about donors’ accountability? According to Susan Davis from Improve International, most foundations do not prioritize evaluation of WASH projects post-implementations, which impedes learning and improving accountability for the end-users. Moreover, when they do conduct evaluations, they may not share the results – or have no incentive to share results showing poor performance of WASH services. Susan proposed a WASH donor accountability scorecard which would foster a culture of accountability and transparency through virtuous competition amongst donors to disclose the results of evaluations.

The e-discussion and the webinars highlight a range of different aspects of accountability. It is encouraging to see that this topic is gaining a higher profile in the water sector. Other recent discussions include a thinkshop on social accountability in the water sector recently held in Tanzania, and the recent expert consultation for the upcoming report by the UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. Greater understanding and application of this principle are essential for achieving SDG 6.


Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank  




World Water Day 2018: Publication of the new RWSN Strategy 2018-2023

The 2015-2017 RWSN strategy came to an end last year, and the RWSN Theme Leads and Secretariat have been busy consulting members and partners to develop a new strategy for the period 2018-2023.  We have received valuable ideas for the network through consultations with working groups, the 2017 RWSN member survey and evaluation of the network, and the 6-week open consultation to which we invited all RWSN members. We also hosted a webinar in November 2017 during which the RWSN Secretariat and Chair outlined the proposed changes to the existing strategy.

Ideas and comments received from the network members and partners through the open consultation were incorporated into the RWSN Strategy in early 2018. The final version of the Strategy was approved by the RWSN Executive Steering Committee in March 2018. The revised RWSN strategy is now available for download here.

So what’s new?

The highlights include:

  • Welcoming new organisations to contribute to RWSN’s thematic activities, in particular Water Mission (on solar pumping, as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Development Theme) and Simavi (as part of the Leave No One Behind Theme, formerly known as Equality, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination);
  • A new focus on the development of RWSN’s Young Professionals community;
  • Fostering the collaboration between RWSN themes on emerging or specific topics such as water quality, social accountability, climate-resilient WASH and solar pumping. Given the complexity of the rural water sector challenges, this approach to tackling issues from different angles and perspectives together is helping us capitalise on the diverse experiences and expertise of our members in a process of co-creation.

As ever, your contributions to the network are highly appreciated, and we encourage you to join RWSN’s Themes and contribute to topics of interest. Feel free to reach out to your colleagues, in particular Young Professionals, to bring them on board to engage in the Rural Water Sector dialogue and shape the future next generation of RWSN.  Thank you for all your ideas and we look forward to working together over this next phase!


La stratégie RWSN 2015-2017 a pris fin l’an dernier. Les responsables thématiques et le secrétariat de RWSN ont pris l’initiative de consulter les membres et les partenaires du réseau afin de développer une nouvelle stratégie pour la période 2018-2023. Nous avons reçu de bonnes idées pour le réseau à travers des consultations avec les groupes de travail, l’enquête des membres RWSN 2017 et l’évaluation du réseau, et la consultation ouverte de 6 semaines à laquelle nous avons invité tous les membres de RWSN. Nous avons également organisé un wébinaire en novembre 2017 qui a permis au Secrétariat et à la Présidente de RWSN d’expliquer les changements proposés par rapport à la stratégie existante. Les idées et commentaires reçus des membres et des partenaires du réseau à travers cette consultation ont été incorporés dans la nouvelle stratégie RWSN début 2018. La version finale de la stratégie a été approuvée par le Comité de Pilotage Exécutif de RWSN en mars 2018.

La nouvelle stratégie RWSN strategy est maintenant disponible ici.

Quoi de neuf dans cette nouvelle stratégie?

Les points forts de la nouvelle stratégie 2018-2023 de RWSN sont les suivants:
• Nous souhaitons la bienvenue à de nouvelles organisations souhaitant contribuer aux activités thématiques de RWSN, en particulier Water Mission (sur le pompage solaire, faisant partie du Thème Développement Durable des Eaux Souterraines) et Simavi (faisant partie du Thème “N’exclure personne”, qui s’appelait Egalité, Inclusion et Non-Discrimination lors de la phase précédente);
• Un nouvel axe prioritaire sur le développement de la communauté de Jeunes Professionnels de RWSN;
• La collaboration entre les thèmes RWSN sur des sujets émergeants ou spécifiques tels que la qualité de l’eau, la redevabilité sociale, la résilience au climat des services EAH et le pompage solaire. Etant donné la complexité des défis du secteur de l’eau en milieu rural, cette approche nous permet de voir les problèmes de différents angles et perspectives afin de capitaliser sur les différentes expériences et expertises de nos membres à travers un processus de co-création.

Comme toujours, vos contributions au réseau sont les bienvenues, et nous vous encourageons à rejoindre les communautés des groupes thématiques de RWSN et à contribuer aux sujets qui vous intéressent. N’hésitez pas à partager avec vos collègues, en particulier les jeunes professionnels, afin de les impliquer dans le dialogue du secteur de l’eau en milieu rural et former la prochaine génération de RWSN. Merci à tous pour vos idées et nous avons hâte de travailler ensemble lors de cette nouvelle phase !

New 2018 RWSN webinar series (April 3rd – June 5th, 2018)

Mark your calendars! RWSN is delighted to announce its 2018 series of 10 webinars dedicated to rural water services, April 3 -June 5, in English, French, Spanish and/or Portuguese!

To attend any of the webinars, please register here by April 2nd:

We will hear from more than 20 organisations on a range of topics, including:

· A special double session with the WHO/ UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme to find out how you can make the most of the JMP data, and how countries nationalise SDG6 targets and indicators (May 2nd and May 29th);

· The challenges specific to sustainable and safe water supply in peri-urban areas and small towns, with a focus on the urban poor (April 17th and 24th);

· Practical ways of financing to reduce corruption in the sector (April 3rd), and to improve social accountability for better rural water services (May 8th);

· A discussion on community-based water point management (April 10th), and a radio show-style session showcasing experiences with capacity strengthening for professional drilling (June 5th);

· A debate on water kiosks (May 15th), and the role of self-supply and local operator models for universal access in rural areas (May 22nd).

To find out more about the session topics, dates and times, see here:

To attend any of the webinars, please register here by April 2nd:

New Online Course – Professional Management of Water Well Drilling Projects and Programmes


We would like to announce to you that the registration is now open for an online course: Professional Management of Water Well Drilling Projects and Programmes – an Overview that will run from the 5 March to 14 April.

The course provides an overview of what is required to improve borehole drilling professionalism within an organisation and for the country more widely. The course provides participants with an understanding of the following key elements: groundwater information, siting, costing and pricing, procurement and contract management, borehole drilling and supervision and how professional drilling is affected by the wider institutional environment. Click here for more information.

The course builds up to a final assignment whereby participants are tasked with exploring actions that could be taken within their own organisations, local authority and/or country to improve borehole drilling professionalism. Certificates will be awarded to those that successfully complete the course.

The course is open to a maximum of 80 participants from Government, the Private Sector, NGOs, UN-Agencies, Academia and Donor Agencies.

To apply for a place, register here by the 14th February.

The course is designed for both those with a technical (i.e. engineering/science) and those with a non-technical (i.e. social science/economics/arts/politics) background. Participants should have a diploma or bachelor’s degree qualifications and at preferably at least three years of work experience in water supply service delivery (social or technical aspects), civil engineering, rural development or water/environmental management.  As this is an introductory course, participants are not expected to have a detailed understanding of hydrogeology.  The course language is English.

The six week course (5 March to 14 April) is hosted on the UNDP Cap-Net Virtual Campus. It will be facilitated by Skat Foundation, UNICEF, RWSN, AGW-Net and UPGro together with sector experts.



Consultation period on the RWSN Strategy now open – Période de consultation sur la stratégie RWSN maintenant ouverte

The draft RWSN Strategy 2018-2023 can be downloaded here for consultation, and you can also view a short presentation about it here; please leave a comment below or email us, telling us:

  • What you like about the strategy
  • What could be improved
  • If you, or your organisation, could contribute staff time, funding or knowledge to strengthen any of the topics or themes

The consultation on the RWSN Strategy is open to all for 6 weeks  (until 22 December 2017)

Watch the webinar on the RWSN strategy


La stratégie RWSN 2018-2023 peut être téléchargée ici (en anglais)  pour consultation, ou vous pouvez également télécharger une présentation à ce sujet en français ici; n’hésitez pas à laisser un commentaire ci-dessous ou nous envoyer un email, en nous disant:

  • Ce que vous aimez dans cette stratégie
  • Ce qui pourrait être amélioré
  • Si vous, ou votre organisation, pouvez contribuer du temps, des financements ou des connaissances pour renforcer les sujets ou les thèmes

La consultation sur la stratégie RWSN est ouverte à tous pour 6 semaines (jusqu’au 22 décembre 2017)

Regarder le webinaire sur la stratégie RWSN

Gender and rural water services – lessons from RWSN members

Gender relations are critical to nearly every aspect of rural water supply, but rarely addressed in practice by rural water professionals. All water supply programmes affect men and women in different ways, and while practitioners assume their work will benefit women, how do they know whether it will or not, how do they know what impact it will have?

In 2016 RWSN’s Mapping and Monitoring Theme members had an impromptu and rich e-discussion on gender equality and WASH. In early 2017, RWSN’s Equality, Non Discrimination and Inclusion (ENDI) Theme launched a call to their members for examples of inspiring experiences of ‘Making Water Work for Women’. Both discussions have been rich with experiences from across Asia, Africa and Latin America, and reinforcing of each other. We have put together a short brief highlighting the key points from these discussions:

  • The nature of female participation within water committees should be discussed in terms of quality as well as quantity.  If women’s roles do not offer any opportunity to influence committee decisions and outcomes, their participation is largely tokenistic. Qualitative indicators can help to show whether women’s participation is tokenistic, or active and meaningful.
  • High-level government commitment to minimum quotas for women’s participation was seen as a crucial prerequisite to creating the space for the inclusion of women and the ability to demand it.
  • Where women were more influential on Water User Committees, it was strongly attributed to the special efforts of implementing organisations who worked on mobilising women and increasing their confidence and awareness about  the work involved, and sensitising men equally to create space for women’s involvement in the committees, as the example in India shows.
  • By working closely with women and men together it is possible to challenge gender norms amongst women and men in rural communities, so that they begin to share unpaid work associated with WASH more equally, as the example in Ethiopia shows.
  • Identifying the agents of change (women and men) from the community who are motivated and determined to advocate for water and sanitation can nurture lifelong advocates, as illustrated by the experience from Bangladesh.
  • Disaggregating monitoring indices by gender can help to raise gender equality as a priority, and set specific expectations about the participation of women in different aspects of service provision.
  • Conflict-sensitive approaches to water and sanitation can help to facilitate peace building by creating a platform for women around a common need, as in the example from India.

Download the brief : Gender and rural water services – lessons and experience from RWSN members

The 2017 RWSN Evaluation is now out!

Back in June 2017, we announced that RWSN would be undergoing an external evaluation, which was undertaken by PEMconsult over July and August 2017.

What were the main findings from the Evaluation?  Overall, the evaluation found that “RWSN is highly relevant for the rural water sector, in comparison to other networks, and for the benefits it provides to its members and organizational partners…. The RWSN is a highly competent, advanced community-building network which connects people who would likely not have been connected before and disseminates valuable knowledge to its members, which can be applied to practice.”

While the report is overall positive, it makes 12 recommendations around (1) RWSN’s strategy (2) RWSN’s governance structure and (3) the way the network operates.  RWSN’s Executive Steering Committee has responded to these recommendations, which will be addressed in the coming years and in its new Strategy. We will discuss these at an upcoming webinar on November 9th, for which you can register here.



En juin dernier, nous avons annoncé que RWSN ferait l’objet d’une évaluation externe, réalisée par PEMconsult en juillet-août 2017.

Quels sont les résultats principaux de l’évaluation?  L’équipe de l’évaluation a conclu que “RWSN est très pertinent pour le secteur de l’eau rurale, par rapport à d’autres réseaux, et offre des avantages à ses membres et à ses partenaires organisationnels …. Le RWSN est un réseau très compétent et avancé, qui permet de former des communautés qui connecte les personnes qui ne pourraient pas autrement être connectées et dissémine des connaissances ayant de la valeur pour ses membres, et qui peuvent être mises en pratique.”

Bien que le rapport soit positif, il y a 12 recommandations portant sur  (1) la stratégie de RWSN (2) la structure de gouvernance de RWSN et (3) la façon dont le réseau fonctionne.  Le comité de pilotage de RWSN a répondu à ces recommandations qui seront considérées dans les années à venir et dans sa nouvelle stratégie. Nous allons en parler lors d’un wébinaire le 9 novembre, pour lequel vous pouvez vous inscrire ici.

Télécharger le résumé exécutif du rapport d’évaluation (français).



RWSN mini webinar series 2017 (ENG) / Mini-série de webinaires RWSN 2017(FR) / Mini-serie de webinarios RWSN (SP)

Webinar recordings and presentations now available below for download!


  • Thursday 9th November, 2017: Making RWSN work for rural water professionals: results from the RWSN evaluation and new strategy 2018-2023 [ENG, 2.30 pm CET/ 1.30 pm GMT/ 8.30 am EDT]
  • Tuesday, 14th November, 2017: “Grown up” finance for rural water? [ENG, 2.30 pm CET/ 1.30 pm GMT/ 8.30 am EDT]
  • Thursday, 16th November, 2017: A Dollar per year keeps rural water services here? The costs of direct support. [ENG, 2.30 pm CET/ 1.30 pm GMT/ 8.30 am EDT]


  • Jeudi 9 novembre 2017: faire fonctionner RWSN pour les professionnels du secteur de l’eau rurale: résultats de l’évaluation RWSN et de la nouvelle stratégie 2018-2023 [FR, 11h00 CET/ 10h00 GMT]
  • Mardi 14 novembre 2017: De la finance “comme les grands” pour l’eau rurale? [FR, 11h00 CET/ 10h00 GMT]


  • Martes, 14 de noviembre 2017: Cuánto cuesta el apoyo directo a los servicios rurales de agua? [ESP, 16h30 CET/ 10h30 EDT]

Continue reading “RWSN mini webinar series 2017 (ENG) / Mini-série de webinaires RWSN 2017(FR) / Mini-serie de webinarios RWSN (SP)”