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Published on: 24/03/2015

Great to read USAID Chris Holmes' recent blog (see link below) on the passing of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World act by the US Congress. A singular piece of legislation, the water for the world act specifically earmarks a portion of USAID's budget for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) development cooperation. Something that other government's could usefully think about emulating.

What's particularly exciting about Chris' blog is the strong support he gives to service delivery in WASH: that is, to ensuring not just new hardware, but lasting services. As anyone familiar with IRC's work (and particularly our Triple-S initiative) will be aware, the switch from hardware to service delivery is at the heart of the change that we believe necessary to break through the logjams affecting our sector. As such, we see it as hugely important that an agency with the weight of USAID is so explicit about the need to adopt a service delivery approach.

In Chris' words "Understanding what we mean by WASH sustainability requires a distinction between the physical infrastructure – pipes and pumps – and the services they provide. Water service is the flow of water with certain quantity, quality, and continuity characteristics, while sustainable water service is the maintenance of that flow of water over time."

As an organisation with deep Dutch roots and that works closely with the Dutch Government, it was also gratifying to read the recognition given by USAID to the leadership being provided by our own Dutch development agency DGIS: "The Dutch Government triggered the global movement to ensure sustainable services"

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing how USAID will turn this strong commitment to service delivery into practice in its projects and programmes over the next years. And hoping that their lead will be followed by other development partners, Banks and governments.


At IRC we have strong opinions and we value honest and frank discussion, so you won't be surprised to hear that not all the opinions on this site represent our official policy.

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