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Rethinking partnerships to sustain WASH services

Published on: 13/09/2013

How can NGOs and donors partner more effectively with government to meet the challenges of delivering WASH services that last? The WASH Sustainability Forum tackled this issue. Report now on-line.

The final report from the 2013 WASH Sustainability Forum is now available for download. The report sums up Forum deliberations on how NGOs and donors can successfully partner with local and national governments to support long-term sustainability. Some 150 attendees from 14 countries and 70 organisations participated in the one and a half day event, which was held in Washington, D.C. on March 11 and 12.

Harold Lockwood of Aguaconsult/Triple-S opened the first session with IRC (and Triple-S) Director, Patrick Moriarty. Their presentation, entitled ‘How we got here', revealed the sustainability crisis obscured by headline numbers on coverage and the critical role of government, particularly local government, in addressing that crisis.

The first day also featured panel presentations in which government representatives from Central America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe shared successes and challenges of implementing WASH services. On the second day, participants attended breakout sessions for donors, civil society, and governments. These discussions focused on sustainability challenges and opportunities faced by each group, who then shared their findings in a final wrap-up session.

The main messages to emerge from the Forum reinforced and built upon those of Triple-S:

  • Governments should own the process, since they have ultimate responsibility for the sustainability of WASH services. ‘NGOs and donors must be aware of the structures and regulations already in place and work within them to the fullest extent possible.’
  • Long-term monitoring is important but hard, largely because of unclear roles of various stakeholders and the issue of financing. Among the solutions discussed: ‘creating an international standards organization to take the lead in long-term monitoring and develop common standards for sustainability.’
  • We need infrastructure, but it’s not enough. Focusing on delivering a service instead of simply constructing taps and toilets will improve sustainability.

The Forum was hosted by the World Bank and supported by Aguaconsult, Global Water Challenge, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, UNICEF, and WASH Advocates.

You can download the report below.