Useful reflection on a Swiss Water Partnership session on failure at last year’s World Water Week
Dear RWSN members and friends, dear colleagues,
2015 was the year that the international community signed off on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Global Goal 6, Target 6.1 is ‘our’ goal: “by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”. It is a great goal and an inspiring mission for all of us!
We are all different, all working in different organisations, countries and communities. But we share the passion for rural water, for the technical details of rural water supply, for the implementation of our projects and the cooperation with communities.
More than the passion for our profession we share the hope and belief that we can contribute to a world where no one will be without reliable access to safe water in 2030.
There is no more rewarding and fulfilling mission than to support achieving that. It will not be easy; there is much that needs to be done.
Sometimes we will despair and sometimes we will not know how to proceed, but if we are able to work together, to listen to each other, to respect our very diverse backgrounds, opinions and cultures, than we will make progress. Step by step and day after day.
I wish you all an inspiring 2016, filled with love and wisdom. In the lives with your families and friends and on your professional path towards safe and affordable drinking water for all.
Ton Schouten, Chair
Happy New Year!
Let’s start 2016 with a bang: a call for expressions of interest (EOIs) for ‘Catalyst Grants’ which are commissioned under the REACH programme.
These Catalyst Grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 each are designed to explore novel approaches to water security and poverty research and policy that complement the core research conducted by the REACH programme. These grants will promote the co-production of effective tools and technologies relevant for and adopted by policy makers, practitioners, civil society organisations and enterprise.
There are three themes for this call:
- Water security for vulnerable people
- Water security risk science
- Water security partnerships.
Capacity Development is one of those buzz-phrases that gets used and abused almost as much as Sustainable Development. Capacity has various definitions, but for me, one of the clearest is:
“Capacity is the ability of individuals, groups, institutions and organizations to identify and solve problems over time”
(Morgan, P. 1993 quoted on p.7 of Capacity development for improved water management, UNESCO-IHE 2009)
A shortage of capacity – the ability to identify and solve problems – is found in rural water supply across the world, from issues like pump corrosion, to lifecycle cost recovery to making the Human Right to Water a reality.
Problems become a lot easier where there are competent champions or – even better – strong teams who are able and willing to do a good job, even in adverse circumstances.
That’s why I have come to the annual meeting of UNDP Cap-Net, – at the invitation of its director, Dr Themba Gumbo. Cap-Net is a global network of capacity development networks that support capacity development in the water sector by providing technical and match-funding support to water-related training courses. The meeting was hosted by the Spanish cooperation agency, AECID, at their exceptional training facility in Cartagena, Colombia.
The main theme of the week was to explore how to use online and ICT methods to deliver courses and support learners. The centre-piece is Cap-Net’s Virtual Campus. The first three courses, which ran successfully earlier this year, were:
- Sustainable Water Management
- Water Integrity and Transparency
- A Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
The courses work in similar way to a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), but requires a bit more commitment and if you want to join you have to submit a short CV and letter explaining why you want to do the course.
The meeting was also an opportunity to meet coordinators from some of Cap-Net’s 22 regional and country networks from all over the world and to explore ideas for developing face-to-face training events. From this I got a lot of ideas and contacts to explore further.
There were other partners there as well, including CAWST, Water Integrity Network (WIN), Global Water Partnership (GWP), Sustainable Energy for All, the UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI, Water for People, and SDC Global Programme Water Initiatives so it was good to meet them and find out about the interesting work they are doing.
Another topic, was the potential of serious games, and two examples were presented:
- Diana Rojas (SDC) presented an mobile game called Aventura Yaku for helping children (and grown-ups!) understand water and ecosystems services.
- Gareth Lloyd (DHI) presented an online game called Aqua Republica, and we had a group competition on a version developed specifically for Cap-Net. Aiming at an audience of 13-18 year olds, behind the attractive graphics and game play is a direct link to detailed hydrological models in Denmark.
While great for introducing new audiences to the importance of water resources, don’t expect an RWSN game app for rural water any time soon. I’m not convinced that is it the right solution for what we want to do, but I like these initiatives very much.
Over the course of the rest of the week there were presentations and discussions on the importance of innovating and keeping up with the fast evolving ways of engaging new audiences through communications technology – whilst not forgetting the importance of hands-on, face-to-face learning.
As the week ended, I concluded that here are a group of people – and organisations – that RWSN should collaborate with if we are to fulfil our mission of raising the level of quality and professionalism of rural water supply services.
Watch this space…
This week, I attended the Sanitation & Water for All (SWA), partnership meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.
Skat Foundation is a member of the Research & Learning constituency of SWA and I was there, among other things, to represent RWSN, both to raise relevant issues from our network with SWA partners, but also to find out what SWA is doing that is relevant for those working in rural water services.
By Susan Davis, Executive Director with research support from Lydia Prokosch
At the UNC Water and Health conference last week, Improve International hosted an event called Keep the Water Flowing. We highlighted the various types of post-construction support, results and costs. Below are links to the presentations:
- Susan Davis, Improve International, Improve International Keep the Water Flowing
- Ruchika Shiva, IRC India, Different types of institutional support arrangements in India: synthesis of findings from 20 case studies from the Community Water Plus project
- Victoria Cuellar, DRI/CIWAS, The Circuit Rider Methodology
- Georgia Kayser, UNC Water Institute, The Circuit Rider Model in El Salvador: Improvements in Drinking Water Quality & Sustainability
- Dennis Warner, Millennium Water Alliance, Monitoring and Resolution Activities of MWA Members Following Project Completion
We also shared several resources, links to which are provided below by theme.
The Case for Post-Construction Support
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Susan Davis wrote this guest blog on ICTWorks based on her lightning talk at MERLTech:
The world has made several commitments to water and sanitation, starting as far back as the 1970s, and leading up to the recent Sustainable Development Goals. Also over the past few decades, the development of the internet and cool data collection tools has enabled more and more organizations to share their evaluations and monitoring data publicly.
But is anyone actually learning from them?
Read the rest of the article here.