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Districts at the heart of our work

Published on: 26/06/2020

IRC's Annual report 2019

Douossou Sourabie, maintenance worker and proud member of the WASH system at the ONEA treatment facility in Banfora

The results of the third year of our strategy to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for everyone, for good by 2030, convinced us that we are on the right track.

Long-term partnerships with districts in focus countries are central to our work. We are committed to working with our district partners to ensure sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for all by 2030.

Implementing district WASH master plans

In 2019 we implemented two WASH master plans in Burkina Faso and Ghana. We also supported the development of four more: one in Uganda, and three in Ethiopia. These master plans are proof of the commitment of our district partners, particularly their local governments. Our role is that of a change hub. We bring people together, unite them around a common vision, and enable learning and adaptation – supporting government leadership throughout. This brings about change to strengthen local and national WASH systems.

Ikenna and Vida
Event host and TV-personality Ikenna Azuike and IRC Ghana Country Director Vida Duti at the All systems go! WASH systems symposium

WASH systems at all levels

The All systems go! WASH symposium in March gave us a chance to celebrate our birthday, and to promote our WASH systems approaches. The event marked 50 years since IRC was founded. It was the first event of its kind dedicated explicitly to using systems approaches in the WASH sector, and provided a timely opportunity to review the state of progress towards achieving the ambitious SDGs. The event was also designed to support participants to become systems leaders who can push for strong and resilient local and national WASH systems and services.

Another systems highlight was the development of the WASH Systems Academy: our online platform for building capacity in WASH systems strengthening. The Academy has two courses so far: one on the basics of systems approaches and one on the building blocks of the WASH system. Since their launch, 814 people have completed the courses, and their views are clearly expressed in these testimonies:

"Very informative and instructive, if everybody can apply the content in this course, reaching the SDGs won't be a problem." - Mohammed Abdulkafi Al-Asbahi, Yemen

"Our sector has been floundering without authoritative direction, allowing the many new and dynamic actors in the sector to "make it up as they go along". No longer. This basic course is the most authoritative set of useful information the sector has produced since the 1984 publication of 'Sanitation and Disease'. This is nothing less than a monumental achievement!" - Christopher McGahey, Managing Director, Hillaria International

What's next

In 2020 we will look at how to increase national-level political commitment; how to attract sufficient finance for our partner districts and the WASH sector in our focus countries; and how to scale and replicate our district-level successes. The answers to these questions will form the basis of our new five-year planning framework.

At the time of writing our report, the world is convulsed by COVID-19. Our offices are all closed and our staff are supporting our partners in responding to the pandemic. Investments made in our communications infrastructure have enabled us to function effectively during lockdown. COVID-19 is highlighting the vital roles safe water and hygiene play in the fight against the virus. Access to safe water and sanitation in the household is not just a basic human right, but an enabler of social distancing. In fact, a health response is truly a WASH response. During and after the crisis, we will redouble our efforts to drive home this message to decision makers. WASH must be seen—and invested in—as a crucial foundation of a country's public health infrastructure, and the poor should not have to rely on unsafe WASH services.

Read the highlights from our focus countries in 2019: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India and Uganda.

IRC at a glance 2019