reposted from: http://www.wateraid.org/news/blogs/2017/february/diy-water-provision-the-advantages-of-self-supply
Posted 21 Feb 2017 by Mark Fabian
reposted from: http://www.wateraid.org/news/blogs/2017/february/diy-water-provision-the-advantages-of-self-supply
Posted 21 Feb 2017 by Mark Fabian
Some highlights from the RWSN Forum and thoughts on 12 years of a learning journey, by Matthias Saladin, Skat
Of course the title is a rhetorical question – no one really expects one specific approach to transform the whole water sector, let alone save the world. Nevertheless, Self-supply as a concept is gaining traction and prominence in the sector as I witnessed during the 7th RWSN Forum, which took place from November 29 to December 02 in Abidjan. Just a couple of years ago, the term “Self-supply” did not even exist. In fact, it was coined within RWSN as part of a strategic planning exercise in 2004, where Self-supply was defined as one of the flagships of RWSN. Of course, people providing water for themselves (“Self-supply”) is a process which has been going on for millennia and all over the planet (for example, some 44 million people in the US today rely on Self-supply for their drinking water), but Self-supply as a term was born in 2004, and the idea that this approach can (and should) be fostered by specific activities and frameworks both by government and other actors still is relatively new to many people, even within the water sector.
In this blog entry, I would like to reflect on some aspects of this learning journey of the past 12 years, and I invite you to reply, discuss, disagree, criticize or support, whatever suits you best.
But first things first: The 7th RWSN Forum was a massive success, both in terms of participation and outreach, but also specifically for the Theme of Self-supply: I identified at least 7 sessions where papers related to Self-supply were presented, some of which I was not even aware of before the Forum. For example, Sara Marks of Eawag (Switzerland) presented some results of a study from Burkina Faso (feel free to read the respective paper and presentation) where they looked into the various benefits of a project implementing a (subsidized) Self-supply approach to facilitate multiple-use water services (MUS). Among other things, they found that the water of households who had invested in an upgraded private well and equipped it with a Rope Pump was of better quality than that of unimproved wells.
Meanwhile, session 6A was designed to provide an update on the “state of the art” in Self-supply, including an overview paper of André Olschewski, a case study from Sally Sutton on Self-supply in some African countries, an overview of how Self-supply can be accelerated in Ethiopia, and an example of how capacities in the private sector can be strengthened through SMART Centres (or watch the movie on the SMART Centre in Zambia here).
In several other sessions, specific aspects of Self-supply were analyzed in more detail, for example by Patrick Alubbe of water.org, who made a case for micro-credit as a scalable intervention who can help more people gaining access to higher level of drinking water services (see the paper of Gupta and Labh and Patrick’s presentation).
Apart from this wide and deep presence of Self-supply in the thematic sessions, the concept also made a splash at key moments of the RWSN Forum: For example, it was prominently mentioned by the final remarks of Mr. Jonathan Kamkwalala, a senior manager of the World Bank, during the closing ceremony. Moreover, more than 150 people signed an informal “Call to action”, which suggests that Self-supply deserves more attention on behalf of governments, donors, civil society organizations, researchers, and other key players. The undersigned expressed a “strong interest in developing support for Self-supply within our own spheres of activity and urge all development partners to explore this approach and reach its considerable potential”. Given this strong support by a large number of people, I hope that we will see a lot of action in this field in the weeks and months to come – for example by starting to monitor and report on Self-supply within organizations, regions, and eventually countries and globally. As we know, we do not manage what we do not measure, so measuring definitively would be a good start.
In spite of these highlights and an overall strong presence of Self-supply during the Forum, not everything is rosy in regard to Self-supply. On one hand, I observed that while many people recognize the important role Self-supply already plays and will have to play to reach the SDGs, with another group of people it creates almost allergic reactions. Having listened to some of these people, I think I identified three areas of conflict, which are related to three misconceptions around Self-supply:
1. Self-supply means abandoning the poor.
2. Self-supply means that government has no role to play.
3. Self-supply is incompatible with the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.
For the moment, I will only respond to the third misconception. It can readily be clarified, simply by listening of the presentation of the UN Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation during a webinar hosted by RWSN last year (e.g., read this summary), where he makes it clear that Self-supply is in line with the progressive realization of these Human Rights. And this hint also helps clarifying the first misconception: Self-supply does not imply abandoning the poor, but supporting them in a different way – rather than the government itself providing services, it facilitates and strengthens the private sector (and civil society organizations) to provide them. Thus, rather than abandoning the poor, what Supported Self-supply does is actually empower them and enable them to take on a more active role in moving up the ladder of water services.
Importantly, the Government has to play a role in Supported Self-supply – in fact, it is a crucial role consisting of several functions (adequate policy framework, building up capacities, oversight of the private sector, etc.), but this will be the topic of my next blog. So for the moment, I leave it there, confirming that the Government is a key actor in Supported Self-supply.
Overall, the concept of Self-supply clearly has an important role to play if we want to provide some (even if it’s just basic) level of services to everyone – there simply is no alternative in reaching specific target groups, especially in the remote rural areas. However, we also have to be aware that Self-supply has its limitations, and that there are aspects related to Self-supply which have to be addressed with a lot of care (e.g., quality of the services installed, potential over-exploitation of water resources by private households). I also perceived that several people and organizations are looking for shiny examples of countries where Supported Self-supply was implemented at scale, which then could be replicated elsewhere (the “Blueprint Fallacy” which unfortunately is quite common in the water sector, particularly among global players).
However, at the moment there are only a few such examples (e.g. manual drilling in Nigeria/Lagos, Domestic Rainwater Harvesting in Thailand, the Upgraded Family Wells in Zimbabwe), and many of these cases refer to contexts where government services were weak or collapsing – which do not make for a good example for promotion, particularly with government agencies. With all due respect, but which government agency would like to copy the experience of Zimbabwe in the 1990s? Thus, the examples are not as shiny as we wish.
Nevertheless, the fact is that Self-supply actually took off in some places while government services, institutions and the whole economy was collapsing – a clear hint to the power of this approach, even under difficult conditions. But we also need to figure out how governments can foster the approach – that is, how to better Support Self-supply.
In spite of all the progress made I think there still is a lot of work to be done both within RWSN and beyond. Here are just a few areas of work a group of “Self-Suppliers” identified during an informal conversation at the Forum:
Thus, looking back to the first 12 years of promoting Self-supply, I think we have come a long way. Given that before 2004 the term did not even exist, the change is truly remarkable – and RWSN was the lead agency of making this sea change in public awareness possible. At the same time, we still need to work on the fundaments, the walls and the windows of the Self-supply house, and we need to make them strong enough to keep growing in the coming 12 years and beyond. I hope that many of you will be part of this journey, and I invite you – as a small first step – to subscribe to the Dgroup on Accelerating Self-supply, which is a platform for discussion, exchange and mutual learning, and to contribute to the dialogue on that platform. I look forward to hearing from many of you there!
Onwards and Upwards,
André Olschewski will be leaving Skat and handing over his role as Theme Leader for Accelerating Self-supply (ACCESS) to Matthias Saladin. André reflects on the last five years:
There is widespread recognition that many people particularly rural dwellers improve their water supplies with their own investments. This was barely part of the discourse when RWSN launched the Self-supply theme and term in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Sally Sutton, supported by WSP and UNICEF. As with any innovations, taking the concept of Self-supply from the periphery towards mainstream development has not been simple or an easy journey.
Next week is Africa Water Week (http://africawaterweek.com/6/) , the event that happens every two years that brings Africa governments together to discuss and share experiences on all aspects of water management and WASH, and provides an interface with the latest innovation and research.
If you are attending then please do join RWSN and UPGro partners, UNICEF, IRC, Skat, USAID/WALIS, MWE, Africa GW Network in the following sessions:
Strengthening national capacities for WASH sector learning Continue reading “RWSN & UPGro at Africa Water Week: WASH Sector Learning and Joint Sector Review sessions // RWSN & UPGro à la Semaine africaine de l’eau”
by Matthias Saladin, Skat / RWSN Secretariat
Today is World Water Day, but to be honest, this does not mean much to me. Not that I don’t care about water (who doesn’t?) or about the people who cannot just turn on the tap in the morning for their shower, but somehow 22nd March for me is just a day like many others in the year.
A few months ago, many media channels hailed the finding of what are believed to be indications for water on Mars. Whereas this indeed may be an important finding, it also shows how much we all focus our attention on such events: finding water on Mars, inventing the next machine which will solve all the problems of the world (and on the way turning wastewater to drinking water and energy), busily drilling new boreholes and constructing new water supply distribution networks – while not caring about the millions of boreholes drilled and thousands of water supply systems constructed in the past decades which do not function any longer (and all the inventions which somehow did not solve the problem so far). And with some 660 million people without access to improved sources of drinking water on our planet one might indeed ask why finding water – or traces of it – on a different plant would make a difference to our lives.
Today I write from Oklahoma, USA, having just come to the end of the two and a half day University of Oklahoma 4th biennial WaTER Conference. I had the honour of being one of the keynote speakers at this event, which was attended by over 170 people from 27 countries. It has been an extremely worthwhile experience on many fronts.
There is a growing interest in water supply and sanitation in “developing nations” in the USA. The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act 2005 seems be one of the catalysts for this change. Over the past week I have engaged with numerous undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Oklahoma, Emory University, Mercer University and other US institutions. They are learning about the realities of millions without adequate water supply or sanitation as well as undertaking research. These students want to make a difference.
I was particularly touched by the opening speech of Dr Jim Chamberlain who reflected on the realities today in the USA, where there are people without adequate water supply.”your challenges are our challenges” he observed. He went on to mention common water quality and resource issues between here and other parts of the world. And he was talking about Oklahoma today – a city that is expanding beyond the reach of its piped water supply network. I have learned about people in this State and more widely in the USA who are not connected to a piped water supply or sewerage system. They mostly rely on their own private boreholes, some hand dug wells, and septic tanks. What was particularly surprising though is that as in Lagos, Lusaka or Kampala, up-to-date statistics on the numbers of wells and population depending on them are lacking. And private well regulation, including water quality testing falls between the cracks and is beyond the current remit of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
My keynote was entitled Sustainable Groundwater Development in Africa: More than Engineering. I tried to present an overview of some of the groundwater development opportunities and challenges of the African continent. The presentation was well received, in particular reflections on the diversity of the African continent, both above and below ground, as well as the size of Africa. Few people are aware that Africa is larger than the USA and China and a considerable part of Europe put together.
Dr David Sabatini of the Water and Technologies for Emerging Regions (WaTER) Centre asked all presenters to be mindful of a very broad audience, from anthropologists to engineers, from first year undergraduates to seasoned experts. I tried my best, also aware that there would be people in the audience who had never been to Africa in their lives, alongside scholars and professionals from the continent. And so we journeyed together from the phenomenal expansion of manual drilling in Nigeria and elsewhere, to the challenges of trying to escape poverty with irrigated agriculture to geology (including the continent’s mineral resources and resource curse), then onto hydrogeology, urban groundwater and finally a vision for future policy and implementation.
As a keynote speaker it was rather humbling to present the fact that the first continental estimates of the quantity of groundwater resources in African were only published three years ago; and to explain that very few African countries have good quality hydrogeological maps and studies. Having worked in rural water supply for seventeen years now, I scratch my head to find defendable reasons for the lack of organised and reliable drilling logs and groundwater data despite decades of development projects from the water decade through the MDGs.
However, I was relieved to present the work supported by UNICEF, WSP, UKAid and USAID over the past ten years to provide guidance for drilling in the form of documents and films; to share that UNICEF, together with WaterAid and Skat has an ongoing collaboration to try and raise the professionalism of both manual and mechanised drilling. And of course to recommend the ongoing UK-funded research to enable sustainable use of groundwater for the benefit of the poor – UPGro.
Undergraduate students ask very pertinent questions. The frankness of potential newcomers to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Water Resources sector is very refreshing and I hope that they will join in solving some of the problems that those of us who have been around a bit longer are struggling with. But to do that, they need to be able to work in this field. Care’s Peter Lochery and winner of the 2015 University of Oklahoma Water Prize, talked of the importance of being a connector, rather than a leader. And so I close this blog with some questions.
How can better connections be made? What can we all do to enable new talent, whether from the USA, Nigeria, or anywhere else, to flow into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Water Resources sector? Who can offer internships? What about apprenticeships or first jobs? Where are the jobs? If we are to reach the Sustainable Development Goal targets for water supply we need an awful lot more skilled people – whether entrepreneurs, field staff, project managers or academics. And we have to find ways of bringing them in to join us! Do you have any tangible ideas? Or any offers for that matter?
Blog on Self-supply by André Olschewski, Skat Foundation
Self-supply are incremental improvements to access and water quality which are financed by own investments. The Self-supply approach and many more interesting topics have been presented and discussed at WEDC Conference 2015 which took place last week in Loughborough, UK.
Apparently people’s needs and aspirations related to water supply and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) do not always match with the level of service provided by interventions of WASH programmes or to put it differently WASH programmes are not always designed and implemented in a way that they satisfy people needs and aspirations.
by Dr Kerstin Danert, Skat Foundation
In Lagos, a city of over 17 million people, water demands are mainly being met from tapping the groundwater that lies beneath the city. Boreholes provide water directly at people’s homes or business premises. Borehole construction is being paid for by householders and businesses themselves. Water vendors, selling water in jerry cans or trucks are also prolific. Given the limited reach of the piped infrastructure, much of the water vended is likely to also originate from below ground. In fact, exploitation of the large, relatively shallow aquifers that lie below Lagos is one of the main reasons that the city can continue to grow at all.
I’ve just returned from Liberia, where Kerstin Danert and I, together with Caesar Hall and Jenny Schmitzer are coaching, training and mentoring staff across from government agencies to prepare the first a Sector Performance Report (SPR) for Liberia. Ultimately, this this could become an annual report for the whole WASH sector across the country. It pulls together data from different sources and provides the evidence base for making decisions decisions and prioritising at the second annual Joint Sector Review (JSR) – a two day workshop of around 200 stakeholders that will happen at the beginning of May.
The approach, in this form, was pioneered by the Ministry of Water & Environment in Uganda ten years ago. A decade later, it is the primary mechanism for coordinating WASH actors across government, NGOs and Development Partners, and for reporting activities, outcomes and priorities for the coming year in Uganda.
This is not an easy. It has been a challenging, but rewarding, process and it has been a long journey for Uganda, and Kerstin was there, coaching and cajoling for the first seven SPRs (SSOZI, D. and DANERT, K.,2012). For this reason, the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) invited us to Liberia to support the government as they start on this long journey.
Similar to Uganda when it started, Liberia is now a decade clear of a long and often brutal civil war. The physical and government infrastructure, which was weak to begin with, was largely destroyed and the social scars still have a rawness. Liberia has a unique history in that it was founded by American freed slaves, but resentment between Americo-Liberians and those of indigenous descent added fuel to the fire of the brutal wars that took place between 1989-96 and 1999-2003.
The current president, H. E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was the first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa and she has been a unifying voice both at home and abroad. She is also the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) so the sector has a champion at the highest level.
However, responsibility and scarce resources for WASH are split between around nine different ministries and government agencies. Policy and strategy has been established, thanks to strong support from UNICEF, WSP and bi-laterals such as IrishAid,and USAID. There are also several other development partners in the country . However, implementation through government has been slow, for example the rural water division of the Ministry of Public Works has no budget for implementation for the current year. Stuff is happening: water and sanitations systems are being built and hygiene and CLTS is going on at quite a large scale, but it is NGOs, not government who are doing the spade work.
Is this a problem? Short term maybe not, because the needs of the people are great, but without a strong, capable government there can be no end to dependence on international aid funding international NGOs, neither of whom are directly accountable to the people or leadership of Liberia. We shouldn’t expect the private sector to ride the rescue either: where there is social and environmental responsibility, a fair, strong Government regulator is essential.
So what is needed? The basics done well.
These, and many other communication and analytical skills, seem so obvious that surely to consider them in the context of experienced, national government staff could be considered patronising. However, during the war they would have been less worried about using PowerpointPowerPoint and more worried about avoiding the likes of ‘General Butt Naked’ (CNN report). Fragile States are exactly that.
While many of the staff we have met are knowledgeable and committed, there is need to build morale and confidence; so even they not only improve their reporting and analytical skills but also have the confidence to really commit them to paper.
So what’s the answer? Perhaps hire some international consultants to come in and write a thick report “for government”. WSP didn’t want us to do that and there was no way we going accept the task if that had been the case. The 2014 Liberia SPR will be written (mostly, though not entirely) by Liberians.
To achieve that, where capacities are low, and experience lacking we ran a four day writing course then followed up remotely, and in person, with each team of writers who were charged with creating thematic mini-reports on rural water, sanitation, hygiene, gender, urban water and sewerage, solid waste management and water resources.
This is a tough process for all involved. For the ministry staff, they have been chasing around bringing together the data and activity reports that are often scattered around their organisations or guarded. In certain cases, the process uncovered new data sources from Government officials – in particular the data collected through surveys and publishes by Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LSGIS).
For us it has been tough to resist the temptation to dive in and write it all for them. On occasion I give in where it was clear that the data analysis and presentation would take much more time than we had available and I couldn’t leave it. But as I write this, the writers were spending two days to review the entire report; and decide what to change.
However, the pleasure came from seeing the final product start to emerge and the shared sense of accomplishment.
So have we strengthened the capacity of the WASH sector to go it alone? No. Clearly not, and as I write this I still don’t know whether this approach will work, but the process so far as proved to be as valuable as, hopefully, the final report will be. The international community will still have a crucial role in tackling the chronic poverty found across Liberia, but that role needs to diminish with time as Liberian institutions take over.
From what I experienced, I saw the importance of education and mentoring to develop skills and confidence to discharge duties effectively, but that alone is not enough. Karwee Govego, Director of Rural Water, complained that their best staff get poached by NGOs. That ‘brain drain’ is inevitable as long as salaries and morale are low, management and mandates are disorganised, and career paths are determined by more than than merit.
Love it or hate it, government is essential; to build a strong, competent one in Liberia is going to take a lot of teamwork, hard graft and getting the basics right.
Liberia is an active member of the Sanitation, Water for All (SWA) Partnership and will be presenting a new set of commitments at the High Level Meeting in Washington DC this month
re-blogged from WASHfunders.org
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 it, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In April 2013, I had the privilege of facilitating six sessions on country-led monitoring at the Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery Symposium in Addis Ababa. This blog is a reflection on the papers, presentations, and discussions from that event.
International statements such as the Paris Declaration, the Busan Partnership, and the New Deal for Fragile States call for country-led development. The statements also promote results-based development and highlight the importance of monitoring — specifically monitoring that is country-led.