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Published on: 23/11/2022

While most of the IRC team was gathered in Ghana for the All Systems Go Africa symposium, Melaku and I from the IRC Ethiopia team had the chance to represent IRC at the UNC Water & Health conference 2022. Our main mission was to support the USAID Transform WASH team in disseminating key lessons learned from our market-based sanitation activity implemented in Ethiopia.

Together with colleagues from PSI, we reached a broad and interested audience with a side event on how to catalyze household investment in sanitation through market-based sanitation, a side event about the global supply chain challenge and local manufacturing, a verbal presentation about our sanitation subsidy pilot and a poster summarizing the highlights of Transform WASH.

However, much more happened during the week in Chapel Hill. Thanks to IRC colleagues that engaged with partners in preparation for the event and thanks to our IRC supervisory board member Clarissa Brocklehurst, Melaku and I remained busy throughout the week. Melaku got the chance to bring in the Ethiopian perspective at the opening plenary and to provide closing remarks in a side event on the WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in community settings. We could share some challenges of community management for small piped water schemes in a side event building momentum for WHO’s guidelines for small drinking-water supplies that will be published next year and we could introduce the district WASH master planning approach as an innovation for improved management of rural water supply. Last but not least, Afou from IRC Mali joined us remotely to present a case study in a session on strengthening WASH systems in a fragile context.

 Melaku Worku (IRC Ethiopia) and Clarissa Brocklehurst (IRC Supervisory Board) at the opening plenary of the UNC Water & Health conference 2022.
Melaku Worku (IRC Ethiopia) and Clarissa Brocklehurst (IRC Supervisory Board) at the opening plenary of the UNC Water & Health conference 2022.

Overall, the UNC was (yet) another wake-up call to accelerate our efforts to reach SDG 6.1 and 6.2 by 2030. Three reports were mentioned throughout the conference: the state of the worlds drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene. These reports provide a concise overview of the current state of WASH, and call on governments to make progress on governance, financing, capacity development, data, and information, and innovation, illustrated by examples of how countries have actually addressed the challenge of providing adequate WASH services. If you are not already aware of these reports: have a look at them right now!

Finally, we would like to appreciate that the UNC conference was very well organized. It is an amazing place for networking (!) and the organisers managed to make the full content available for everyone.


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