By Adrienne Lane, Chief Strategy Officer for Water for Good (and member of the Agenda for Change Executive and Steering Committees)
Water for Good (an Agenda for Change member) and Water Mission have developed a long-term technical assistance partnership to collectively strengthen the WASH systems in districts where we work. The organizations have agreed to commit staff time and cover travel costs to share our best practices and help each other launch technical assistance programs. Water for Good can share its experiences contributing to a prefecture-wide water access plan and preventative maintenance service in the Central African Republic. Water Mission has expertise in building best-in-class solar pumping systems that provide treated water and remote monitoring. Water Mission’s East Africa workshop in November 2019 was a perfect opportunity to accelerate this partnership.
The goal of the workshop was to go from principles and ideas for WASH systems strengthening to practical application in program development, specifically towards helping Water Mission plan for the future of their community-managed projects in districts across Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Indonesia. I and my Water for Good colleagues attended the workshop and also presented on our experiences with systems strengthening and the role that professionalized maintenance services play in strengthening the WASH system. The presentations covered the following key topics:
- David DeArmey, Director of International Partnerships, presented on the ”what” and the “how” of a WASH system and introduced systems strengthening principles. He also facilitated discussions on the WASH systems building blocks and introduced tools to assess the strength of the building blocks in a given district.
- I presented on the contextual nature of the WASH systems building blocks and presented on the results of the Uptime 2019 study on the financial and operational performance of five maintenance providers that are serving over one million rural people across four African countries. Then we discussed how context may influence service delivery models.
- Jay Hocking, Country Director, shared Water for Good’s maintenance service model, including how to use electronic data collection in the field to improve monitoring capabilities. In addition, he shared some general principles that have helped to drive successful iterations of the service model in the Central African Republic.
Throughout the week, both of our organizations came to the realization that we fill similar positions in the WASH systems where we work – Water Mission and Water for Good are both international NGOs that maintain a long-term presence in the communities and districts where we work, and we both focus on providing access to sustainable infrastructure that includes ongoing monitoring, management, and maintenance support. In other words, we operate as local service providers, and we increasingly partner with government authorities to systematically plan and maintain water services.
In the near future, Water for Good and Water Mission plan to keep learning and collaborating during a “nerd summit” at Water Mission’s headquarters in Charleston, SC.
Learn more about our successful partnership in the below video (in English, French, and Spanish), featuring footage from the first day of the workshop, where Water for Good presented on WASH systems strengthening.