Still or sparkling? Lessons from a WASH holiday

Rural water challenges are not just an African issue…

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I suspect that some of you, readers of this blog, are equal water nerds as I am, and that you also take your professional interest along on holiday. At least, I cannot resist visiting the odd water works or taking photographs of the local water and sanitation facilities during my holidays. This summer holiday I not only had the opportunity to take photos, but to live for a week the type of rural water situation, that I write about so much, but rarely experience in reality. As I spent my vacation on a family visit to my brother, who is managing a farm in the Moldovan rural village of Cuhureştii de Jos, I got some first-hand experience of the common problems around rural water supply and realized that some of the myths around it, are myths indeed.

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

analysis of life cycle costs in Honduras

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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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Flying the flag – but breaking the pump?

A thoughtful post on whether flag waving by donors undermines their own cause as well as causing confusion over ownership of WASH assets

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One of the topics of discussion during this week’s Triple-S annual meeting was around harmonization of approaches to rural water supply between donors and governments. Presenting the experiences in Ghana, Vida Duti presented this nice map, showing which donors operate in which part of the country. One could interpret this map in a positive way; probably donors have come to some division of labour, all working in different parts of the country – even though some areas are quite crowded with donors, and this is even excluding NGOs. However, the real problem lies not so much in the presence of so many donors; but ensuring that they all follow the same – or at least similar – approaches, that align well with the ones developed by the government.

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Source: IRC Ghana 

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A bit short of a miracle …

The “Everyone Forever” is gaining traction

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By Patrick Moriarty and John Sauer

What is it that IADB’s Max Valasquez Matute in Honduras finds ‘only a bit short of a miracle’?  The decision by seven INGOs to align their programming in Honduras in support of an Everyone Forever movement aimed at delivering full coverage in sustainable rural water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Whether there was divine intervention or not, the meeting we attended on the 24 May between the assembled board members of the Millennium Water Alliance and the Mesa de Cooperantes (the donor coordination platform) of the Honduran WASH sector was pretty unusual – and very exciting.

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Planning for impact

A very useful update on the Triple-S project

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By Patrick Moriarty

Back in June and July of 2012, Triple-S underwent a mid-term assessment (MTA) by an excellent team led by Dr. Ben Ramalingam. The MTA was a hugely useful exercise, allowing the Triple-S team and our partners to take some time out from our day to day work to reflect on how we were doing. The MTA team held up a mirror to us as a project and process – in much the same way that Triple-S seeks to hold up a mirror to the rural water sector – allowing us to have a long hard look at ourselves.

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Sustainability checks, clauses and compacts – USAID and DGIS lead the way

Blog by Stef Smits of IRC on ways that funders can improve sustainability of WASH projects

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By Stef Smits

Over the past year, there has been quite a bit of buzz in the WASH sector on the sustainability clause  that DGIS seeks to include in its contacts with implementers. The pros and cons of this have been widelydebated . A key component of the clauses is to have sustainability checks as a way to verify whether sustainability criteria are being met. One of the sessions at the “Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery Symposium” focused on this kind of approaches, looking back at past experience and at the future outlook for them. Particular emphasis was given to the experiences of two bilateral donors who have been leading the way in this: USAID and DGIS, as well as their partners.

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A visit to Gammarth, Tunisia, or what I learnt at the African Development Bank’s retreat for rural water and sanitation

Thoughts on the RWSSI meeting at the African Development Bank in Tunisia

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By Harold Lockwood

Last week in Gammarth, Tunis the African Development Bank called a meeting, attended by about 160 sector experts and other government officials, to launch a new coordination mechanism for its flagship Rural Water Supply and  Sanitation Initiative, or RWSSI. It was an interesting couple of days and through the various presentations, discussions, working groups and questions from the floor, a number of both key opportunities and challenges – fault lines even – were exposed to me as a relatively neutral participant.

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Reflection on last week’s Sustainability Forum in Washington DC

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By: Harold Lockwood, Aguaconsult and Triple-S

Just back from the WASH sustainability forum in Washington DC and as the dust settles, it is time to pick up on the blog I wrote in anticipation of the two days of discussion, reflection, and sharing. How did it all go? Did the earth move under our feet? Well, perhaps predictably the answer to that one is ‘no’ – very few one-off meetings or events are earth-shattering in that sense – but all in all, it was a good meeting and a good week.

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A thoughtful piece from Harold Lockwood, working with IRC on the Triple S project

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By Harold Lockwood

Recently I have been on a continent-hopping tour through a different range of meetings and events, from which I have seen a pattern emerging, or at least a series of questions in my own mind, as I carry out my work in the WASH sector at an international level.

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