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Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) is a champion of the life-cycle costs approach. They, along with partners, are applying the approach in Ethiopia, Kenya, and parts of Latin America to improve monitoring and evaluation of their WASH programmes. IRC’s WASHCost discussed with Susan Dundon of MWA and learned how the organisation is gathering evidence to show how the life-cycle costs approach works or doesn’t work in reality.

The Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) is adopting the life-cycle costs approach for WASH programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Latin America. MWA aims to improve learning and scaling of best practices in the WASH sector, and views building the capacity of its country partners to understand and apply the life-cycle costs approach as key to this goal. WASHCost discussed with Susan Dundon, Programme Development Director, how MWA is practicing the approach and gathering evidence with partner organisations.

MWA and partners are using life-cycle costs indicators for monitoring and evaluation frameworks for each of their WASH programmes. Even with increasing uptake of the approach, Dundon acknowledged the challenge of taking life-cycle costing a step further, saying “the real test is figuring out what to do with what we know; and figuring out how to fill the gap that exists between knowing exact costs required for sustainability and identifying who will pay and where funding will come from”.

In May 2012, MWA requested a five-day capacity building training on the life-cycle costs approach for all partners in the Millennium Water Alliance – Ethiopia Programme (MWA-EP).   More than thirty staff from Ethiopian partners including WaterAid, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Living Water International, Hope 2020, RiPPLe, Ethiopian Kale Hiwot Church, and Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus participated.

Training participants learned how to account for all costs of WASH services, including capital expenditure and operational costs. “Since the training, our members have been talking about different cost components during meetings. They are genuinely excited about understanding costs of services and making action plans for applying their knowledge” said Dundon.

MWA is employing the WASHCost service ladder to monitor and evaluate WASH services that are part of a five-country programme in Latin America. The impact of the investments made to the programme will be evaluated according to quantity, quality, reliability, and accessibility of services.

Dundon hopes that in the next five to six years, MWA and partners will use the life-cycle costs approach to come up with evidence-based advocacy from the field in order to influence financing decisions for ongoing and future WASH services. “We want to show how the approach can be implemented and how it’s worked—for better or for worse”, said Dundon.

MWA is a permanent coalition of U.S.-based, WASH implementing non-governmental organisations.

Based on an interview of Susan Dundon by Angelica de Jesus.

13 November 2012. 

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