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Sustainability in water and sanitation, understood as the durability of services with a set of agreed characteristics over time, is a major challenge, particularly in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. This fundamental issue must be addressed if the Sustainable Development Goals for universal access to water and sanitation are to be achieved. Major international organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) need to work alongside governments to improve sustainability. This paper describes the framework for sustainability programming developed by UNICEF, which is based on a collaborative and iterative learning and adaptive approach, underpinned by regular sustainability spot checks that inform a wider national sustainability agreement. The paper details the results of application of this framework in eight West African countries over the period 2013–2015. Results show the usefulness of the framework in identifying sustainability challenges and acting upon them. However, the continuous adaptation of programs is challenging for governments and international organizations. At the same time, structural aspects that threaten sustainability (e.g., lack of capacity) cannot be addressed in the short term. Further cycles of application of the framework will continue to provide evidence on the successes and limitations of the approach and inform its evolution into a stable country led-framework. [author abstract]

TitleSustainability in practice : experiences from rural water and sanitation services in West Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJimenez, A., Jawara, D., LeDeunff, H., Naylor, K.A., Scharp, C.
Secondary TitleSustainability
Volume9
Issue3
Start Page403
Pagination1-14 : 6 fig.
Date Published03/2017
Publication LanguageEnglish
Abstract

Sustainability in water and sanitation, understood as the durability of services with a set of agreed characteristics over time, is a major challenge, particularly in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. This fundamental issue must be addressed if the Sustainable Development Goals for universal access to water and sanitation are to be achieved. Major international organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) need to work alongside governments to improve sustainability. This paper describes the framework for sustainability programming developed by UNICEF, which is based on a collaborative and iterative learning and adaptive approach, underpinned by regular sustainability spot checks that inform a wider national sustainability agreement. The paper details the results of application of this framework in eight West African countries over the period 2013–2015. Results show the usefulness of the framework in identifying sustainability challenges and acting upon them. However, the continuous adaptation of programs is challenging for governments and international organizations. At the same time, structural aspects that threaten sustainability (e.g., lack of capacity) cannot be addressed in the short term. Further cycles of application of the framework will continue to provide evidence on the successes and limitations of the approach and inform its evolution into a stable country led-framework. [author abstract]

Notes

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DOI10.3390/su9030403

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