Blog series on water system sustainability and the need for change.
The Problem and the Solution
At the current pace of change, we won’t meet the global goal for water: to ‘achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all,’ by 2030. – Sustainable Development Goal 6.1. In fact, the world’s most vulnerable people (those facing extreme poverty and living in fragile and conflict-affected countries) continue to fall further behind the rest of the world.
This Ops Talks series aims to spur the conversation on what it takes to ensure sustainable water services, especially in fragile states. We will draw heavily on our experience working in one country: the Central African Republic.
The good news is, we know how much it will cost to reach everyone, and we know we need to direct more funding toward water systems. The current estimate to achieve SDGs for water and sanitation is $114 billion USD per year between 2016 and 2030. That’s roughly 4x current levels of investment in water and sanitation systems. The other good news: the appropriate technologies exist, we just need to develop infrastructure and build appropriate systems for sustainability where they are needed the most.
So what’s the solution? In order to end water poverty, and reach everyone by 2030, water and sanitation require increased investment, coupled with the political and social systems that can ensure sustainability.
What to expect from Ops Talks
The Ops Talks series will run from June through September 2018.
In each post, we’ll aim to:
- speak from experience,
- demonstrate with data,
- shout out sector leaders who have helped inform our approach, and
- connect to the broader literature and debates.
We primarily draw on our own experience.
For 14 years Water for Good has focused on ending water poverty, with a laser focus on the Central African Republic (CAR). Within this context, we develop the local private sector’s capacity for water access and services.
But we are NOT in this alone.
Many organizations are moving the needle on water systems sustainability! This September, Water for Good will celebrate 1 year of partnership with the Agenda for Change, a network of diverse organizations committed to doing things differently in the water sector. The Agenda for Change helped to create a Roadmap for Universal Access to Sustainable WASH Services at the District Level, which helps to guide our operations and plans for the future.
Water for Good’s Approach and Operations in CAR
Instead of completing as many projects as possible in every corner of the globe, we’ve gone all-in in one of the world’s most underdeveloped and forgotten countries, the Central African Republic.
We connect communities to locally-owned water businesses, a supply of spare parts, and government oversight. As a result, over 90% of our water projects are functional!
Our goal has always been to work ourselves out of a job—training and equipping local people. We launch local businesses that are committed to keeping the clean water flowing long after we are gone.
- Local technicians maintain water access for over ½ million people, across a network of over 1100 water points
- All operations and services integrate electronic monitoring
- Water points in our service network are reliably over 85% functional
- We established the first, locally-owned well drilling operations in the country
Goals for 2020
We are currently scaling our operations, and by 2020 will reach everyone in one region (the prefecture of Mambere-Kadei in CAR) with water access that meets the JMP definition for basic coverage. We also incubate locally-operated enterprises to maintain and expand the water infrastructure into perpetuity, all coordinated in partnership with the government.
Looking ahead to 2030
The success in this focus region can be a catalyst for change and further scale in CAR, reaching all 16 prefectures in the country by 2030.
Watch a 10 min video that summarizes our strategy
Ops Talks Series Preview
This will be an 8 part series running from June to September 2018.
List of Ops Talks moving forward
Post 1: Professionalizing water services
Right now, professional technicians keep water flowing from hand pumps across the Central African Republic. We’ll describe our approach, discuss alternatives, and explain how and why the water sector has evolved to value professionalized water services, even for remote and rural contexts.
Post 2: Electronic monitoring
We’re celebrating over 10,000 maintenance and monitoring visits with 7 years of electronic data! In this post, we’ll share how and why we integrated services with electronic monitoring and review the state of play across the sector.
Post 3: Linking water point density and sustainability
We think that long-term financial sustainability of services will depend on achieving economies of scale for service delivery. This is key for scale and our operational strategy through 2020.
Post 4: Building rapid, responsive services
We’re working to improve response time to pump breakdowns and create a better service: one that rural water users can afford and want to purchase.
Post 5: Driving programmatic improvement
Data can help drive efficiency improvements, and we’ll cover some recent changes to our services that stem directly from our evaluation of data from the field.
Post 6: Estimating the total cost of services
Financial sustainability is not possible without clarity on the true costs of services. We will shine a light on costs associated with the delivery of maintenance services: all our actual costs from over 7 years of direct service provision in the Central African Republic.
Post 7: Building the local private Sector
We aim to build and incubate the local private sector. We’ll speak from experience and review the literature on what the local private sector means for achieving the SDGs in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Post 8: Sharing a Vision for Water Systems Change
While we focus on building the local private sector, we realize that this is just one critical building block for reliable water services. We’ll talk about the need for systems-based thinking and increased collaboration between donors, NGOs, private sector, and governments within fragile states and beyond their borders. Our participation in the Agenda for Change partnership informs this vision for the future.
The series culminates during the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden at the end of August, where we would love to meet up with other attendees! We will also have representatives at the 41st WEDC conference in Nakuru, Kenya in July 2018. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to connect!