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RCD 18 Countries Programme - an overview

Published on: 29/10/2003

IRC ran the RCD Programme in over 18 countries. An overview of the programme is provided here.

IRC provides world wide support to Sector Resource Centre Development

IRC ran the RCD Programme in over 18 countries. IRC provided support to:

  • Build national networks of organisations in the sector who share information and build up a collective ability to absorb and repackage information;
  • Advocate throughout the sector for the importance of quality information;
  • Capacity building in information and knowledge management;
  • Explore innovative funding mechanisms for Resource Centre functions (e.g. encouraging governments and funding agencies to finance information management).

Target: the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals represent a new determination to address the needs of the poorest and most deprived communities. They include halving the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. This is a very tall order. It will mean getting clean water to an additional 250,000 people and sanitation facilities to 350,000 every day for the next 12 years.

Can this be done? The know-how is out there—spread and fragmented among the tens of thousands of technicians, instructors, engineers, administrators, policy makers and community groups who will be planning, constructing, maintaining and using these facilities. Ways need to be found to share this wealth of information and experience so that it can be put to use by everyone working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The high cost of lessons unlearned

Over the past couple of decades, a vast amount has been learned about how to implement effective water and sanitation projects — and how not to. Yet many successful small innovative initiatives are never taken up by the mainstream, and many high-profile schemes continue to be a source of disappointment — grabbing the headlines when new, but soon falling into neglect and disrepair. This is because the lessons we have learned, and new knowledge and experience that is developing all the time, is useless until it is in the hands of the people who carry out the work.

Our focus is on ensuring that all those involved in researching, planning, building, maintaining and using the water and sanitation systems of tomorrow can benefit from the lessons of yesterday and the experiences of those involved in similar projects today, so that systems designed to be functional by the target of 2015 can be relied upon to still be serving their communities in 2035 and beyond.

Resource Centres: the intelligence services of the water sector

We were using our long-term partnerships with southern resource centres, our 30 years' experience and our expertise in the area of water and sanitation information, to develop a network of local organisations that coulc act as the intelligence services of the water sector in their locality, absorbing information from all around and putting it to use.

These Resource Centres need to:

  • Have strong connections with everyone in the water and sanitation sector, from academic environmental research and engineering departments to government ministries, international aid organisations, technical training colleges, local government departments, community organisations, and resource centres in other countries
  • Know what these groups are up to — not just their activities, but also the lessons they are learning through their own experiences, which are often invaluable, but rarely documented
  • Repackage this information for specific groups of users
  • Know what work is needed and what is being done or planned relating to water and sanitation in the locality
  • Anticipate the information needs of everyone involved, from the researchers and planners to the end users
  • Direct people to where they can find relevant information, support and advice when they need it and in a format they can readily use and understand

The IRC Resource Centre Programme

The IRC Resource Centre Development Programme ran in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. In some of them IRC was working with long-term partner organisations, but in others it started from scratch, selling the programme to organisations active in the water sector and working with those who want to be part of the programme.

IRC supported these groups in their efforts to:

  • Build a national network with other organisations in the sector to share information and build up a collective ability to absorb and repackage information
  • Argue the case throughout the sector for the importance of quality information.
  • Improve their own handling of information through training and changing the way they organise their work
  • Find ways of financing their activities for example by encouraging donors and governments to allocate money for information initiatives

The development of Resource Centres formed the centrepiece of IRC’s business plan for 2002-2006. IRC believes such Centres can play a vital role in ensuring that the unity of purpose and political will represented by the Millennium Development Goals, leads to quality and sustainable improvements.

IRC helped develop Resource Centres in:

  • Eastern Africa: Kenya, Uganda
  • West and Central Africa: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania
  • Southern Africa: Mozambique, South Africa
  • South Asia: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
  • South-east Asia: Philippines, Vietnam
  • Latin America: Colombia, Bolivia
  • Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Rumania