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Inspiring workshop on the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2016/7 surveys and network building between Southern African countries.

The Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) is a UN-Water initiative implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO). The objective of GLAAS is to provide policy- and decision-makers at all levels with a reliable, easily accessible, comprehensive and global analysis of the investments and enabling environment to make informed decisions for (drinking) water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

GLAAS aims to:

  • Monitor the inputs required to extend and sustain WASH systems and services to all, especially the unserved and disadvantaged groups.
  • Support country-led processes that bring together the many institutions and actors that are involved in delivering WASH services.
  • Identify drivers and bottlenecks of progress, highlight knowledge gaps and assess strengths and challenges across countries.

IRC provides support to Southern African countries doing their 2016/7 GLAAS surveys, and has brought Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia on board for the first time. They join Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana in undertaking the UN-Water GLAAS 2016/7 country survey.

GLAAS 2016/7

GLAAS 2016/7 has a finance focus and also covers governance, monitoring and human resources needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GLAAS plays a leading role in monitoring SDG targets on means of implementation and includes specific questions required for SDG monitoring, reducing the burden on countries and harmonising data collection. GLAAS has expanded survey questions to cover safely managed water and sanitation systems, faecal sludge management, wastewater and regulation.

This year's finance focus emerged from gaps in financial data in previous GLAAS surveys and complements the expansion of TrackFin, which aims to enable governments to make sound and evidence-based planning and budgeting decisions.

GLAAS workshop

IRC and WHO convened a workshop for GLAAS government focal points in Southern African countries in October 2016; with following objectives:

  1. To plan, support and assess progress against implementation plans for the GLAAS 2016 country survey.
  2. To present the SDGs and how the GLAAS survey contributes to SDG monitoring, in particular to explore data availability at country level for monitoring SDG 6b 'support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management'. 
  3. To share and learn from previous GLAAS experiences to improve 2016 implementation.

GLAAS focal points lead the GLAAS surveys, they secure high-level buy in, create and maintain momentum, identify data sources and methods, lead a multi-stakeholder group to initiate data collection, validate findings, and generate actions to address constraints and bottlenecks, coordinate with focal points for global, regional and country monitoring and link up with relevant Ministries including Finance and Health.

Piers Cross (SWA), Alejandro Jimenez (SIWI), Robyn Tomkins (JG Africa) and Helgard Muller (Specialist Consultant on Water Policy, Regulation and Institutions), joined the workshop and provided specialist inputs.

Fiona Gore (GLAAS Project Manager at WHO) opened the workshop by drawing links between WASH, health and economics, including:

  • Effective financing for the WASH sector is essential to accelerate and sustain services that could ultimately save over 800 000 lives per year. GLAAS is a tool that helps countries better understand the state of their enabling environment for WASH with a focus on governance, monitoring, human resources and financing.
  • The economic and health benefits of investing in water and sanitation are considerable: they include an overall estimated gain of 1.5% of global GDP and a US$ 4.3 return for every dollar invested in water and sanitation services, due to reduced health care costs for individuals and society, and greater productivity and involvement in the workplace through better access to facilities. The 2016 GLAAS cycle, with a focus on finance, will help countries better understand WASH financing and can help provide evidence for more investment or more effective allocations.
  • As the world moves from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the SDGs, it is important to not lose momentum and continue to work to provide safe water and sanitation for all. While the MDG for drinking-water was met, globally 663 million people still lack access to an improved water source and 2.4 million people do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. There is still much work to be done.

Participants decided that the benefits of participating in GLAAS included:

  • Creating an evidence-based case for increased investment, which strengthens decision-making.
  • Helping with SDG reporting and aligning with Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW).
  • Bringing different sector ministries together.
  • Building relationships between monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and sector leadership.
  • Focusing on filling finance gaps.
  • Highlighting governance and human resources – issues that are not always seen.

GLAAS processes and surveys are also aligned with SWA and AMCOW's monitoring the N'gor commitments and with country monitoring processes. GLAAS is the evidence arm of SWA High Level Meetings (HLMs).

GLAAS workshop 2016 (source: IRC)

Improvements in the current GLAAS cycle

Based on lessons learned from countries that participated in the previous GLAAS cycle, suggested actions for improvement in this cycle include:

  • Strengthen AMCOW's coordinating and convening power – it needs to continue to align monitoring platforms and learning processes.
  • Make country summary sheets more visual and dynamic to reach politicians and senior administrators. They are a useful advocacy tool, and it is good to have the sector reflected at a glance.
  • Put pressure on top level decision-makers and create a feedback loop from WHO to top level of participating agencies. There is a big distance between the focal point and senior decision-makers.
  • Build a sub-regional and regional presence to keep the learning and influencing cycle in place.
  • Try to avoid stakeholder fatigue – share the tools and tag in GLAAS when you have other meetings.
  • Align political and technical people in country (which will look different in different countries) to create high level buy-in to GLAAS data and findings.

Proposed GLAAS strategy 2016-2020

  • Strengthen the monitoring and reporting of financial information.
  • Monitor other enabling factors, including SDG WASH Means of Implementation (MoI) targets.
  • Increase harmonisation and alignment with other monitoring initiatives.
  • Conduct in-depth studies on WASH bottlenecks and drivers taking stock of available GLAAS information.
  • Maintain commitment and quality.

GLAAS Reports: A new direction

Exploring SDG 6.b on local participation

To further explore SDG 6.b on local participation (i.e. "Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management"), the workshop participants brainstormed on what participation meant in their countries and discussed the feasibility of data collection. Ideas shared on SDG6.b included:

  • It is about rights and responsibilities, not just about the responsibilities of users. Users also need to engage service providers and authorities and have clear rights to have minimum standards met.
  • The role of participation also includes fault reporting, compliance with regulations, peer-engagement.
  • Accessible information is critical to enabling participation.
  • Representivity does not necessarily need to be proportional in basin, catchment or agencies.
  • We need information on complaint mechanisms, consumer relations mechanisms and user satisfaction – pick up on quality.
  • Can we really speak about services in the case of rural sanitation? This is an important advocacy issue. It is key to keep this question in because we believe that participatory governance is good governance.
  • We place too much emphasis on participation during construction and not enough after construction.

Reflection on the workshop

The workshop was a positive, motivating experience. Highlights and reflections from the workshop participants included:

  • I understand alignment for the first time. The Joined Monitoring Programme (JMP), SWA, N'gor and GLAAS all link up.
  • I see what we can do with the data and I am excited about the possibilities and the benefits of this.
  • To have finance data from more than half of African countries for the first time will allow decision-makers to target investments and financing mechanisms.
  • If we need four times the resources to meet the SDGs, then we will need evidence to make those arguments.
  • Multi-stakeholder coordination is crucial to make this work.
  • GLAAS is a process, not just an activity.
  • Wonderful to see practical implementation plans shared by countries.
  • It is great to go through the survey – I now understand all parts.
  • It is excellent to have contact and shared experiences.
  • This is a group of peers and it is wonderful to have this group.

GLAAS country focal points in Southern Africa

GLAAS country focal points left inspired to initiate multi-stakeholder engagements and collect the data needed to inform their SDG planning. The sub-regional support model shows promise for scale up to other sub-regions in the next cycle, and the team was excited at the prospect of convening again in 2017 to share their results and discuss country actions to address them. An Africa WASH Finance conference may even be on the cards for 2017.

GLAAS 2016/7 focal points per Southern African country are:

  • Botswana: George Thabeng, Department of Water Affairs.
  • Lesotho: Felix Malachamela, Ministry of Water.
  • Malawi: Emma Mbalame, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
  • Mozambique: Alcino Nhacume, National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation.
  • South Africa: Allestair Wensley, Department of Water and Sanitation.
  • Swaziland: Nompumelelo Ntshalintshali, Department of Water Affairs.
  • Zambia: Brian Siakabeya, Rabson Zimba, Ministry of Local Government and Housing.
  • Zimbabwe: Lovemore Dhoba, Stephen Maphosa (PHE), Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.

GLAAS 2014 Regional highlights are available here

Partners GLAAS