Getting a little help from our friends: Technical assistance for WASH Systems Strengthening in the Central African Republic

Getting a little help from our friends: Technical assistance for WASH Systems Strengthening in the Central African Republic

Getting a little help from our friends: Technical assistance for WASH Systems Strengthening in the Central African Republic 2223 1669 Agenda for Change

Over the last 6 years, Water for Good has transformed from an organization narrowly focused on water infrastructure (e.g., borehole drilling and handpump maintenance services) to a champion for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems strengthening in the Central African Republic. How? For one thing, we got a little help from our friends at IRC!

 

A delegation from the Ministry of Hydraulics visited Water for Good’s base in Berberati in December 2020, a week after signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

By David De Armey, Director of International Partnerships at Water for Good

Since 2017, Water for Good has been a member of the Agenda for Change collaboration, whose 14 members are committed to collaboratively strengthening WASH systems to achieve SDG 6. Agenda for Change members have been critical learning partners, and in 2019, Water for Good was among the first recipients of a new Agenda for Change Technical Assistance (TA) Facility, funded by the Vitol Foundation. Through this TA Facility, IRC has supported our work in the Central African Republic (CAR) by accelerating our progress and learning.

Where did we need help?

Agenda for Change members are diverse and engage in this work in myriad ways, but several members have committed to the district-wide approach to strengthen WASH systems and have further generated evidence of its effectiveness.

The district-wide approach is a process to strengthen the WASH system building blocks and processes at a regional level, through the development of a master plan and clear delineation of stakeholder roles, with a special emphasis on supporting local and regional authorities to plan, coordinate, and oversee the WASH sector properly within a district or other locality. When the system is strengthened in one district, it can serve as a blueprint and scale to other regions of the country. The approach has garnered significant success in Burkina Faso, Honduras, Rwanda, Uganda, and elsewhere.

Water for Good is committed to applying and adapting the district-wide approach to WASH systems strengthening in CAR and we have made significant progress in recent years. However, we continued to lack the ‘softer’ coordination plans and communication skills that are key to align stakeholders around a common vision – all the less concrete interactions that can make or break attempts to achieve improved services and strengthen a WASH system.

Developing our ‘softer’ side

With financial support from the Agenda for Change TA Facility, IRC consultant, Hilaire Dongobada helped Water for Good launch a WASH system strengthening agenda around the district level roadmap for region 2 in CAR, starting in 2019. Hilaire brought decades of experience from Burkina Faso and Niger, among other contexts; furthermore, CAR is his country of origin and he is very familiar with the challenges. Through the TA Facility, Hilaire had the opportunity to travel to CAR with Water for Good on two separate occasions.

Hilaire worked directly with Water for Good’s staff and also accompanied our team in meetings with the government and other stakeholders to help advance a WASH system strengthening agenda. In many of the meetings, Hilaire was able to reconnect with familiar WASH contacts, former classmates, and colleagues.

TA activities and accomplishments

Below is a brief overview of Hilaire’s main support activities, all of which helped to catalyze WASH system strengthening in CAR (2019 – present):

  • Mapping the WASH sector actors and roles.
  • Supporting the agenda of a newly formed Region 2 WASH Coordination Mechanism.
  • Evaluating the baseline strength of the building blocks of the WASH system in Mambéré-Kadéi.
  • Providing feedback on the objectives for Water for Good’s newly launched Advocacy program.
  • Proposing a life cycle costs analysis methodology for the regional roadmap for universal water access.
  • Supporting the development of an MOU between Water for Good and the Ministry of Hydraulics.
  • Supporting the development of a contractual public-private partnership between Water for Good and the Ministry of Hydraulics for water supply network management and maintenance in Region 02 (in progress).

Summary and takeaways

Thanks to the support from the TA Facility, Water for Good now has a clear advocacy agenda with staff dedicated to building collaboration and championing WASH system strengthening objectives in CAR. As of November 2020, Water for Good and the Ministry of Hydraulics have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue our partnership, and in region 2, Water for Good, the regional ministry offices, and UNICEF are much more aligned around a common vision to achieve universal WASH access.

The key lesson for us has been: if you want to succeed in strengthening WASH systems, collaboration is critical. Our advice: start by honestly identifying your weaknesses, and then invite your friends to help you improve!

David De Armey is the Director of International Partnerships at Water for Good, where he supports the building of water sector partnerships in the Central African Republic (CAR). In collaboration with Central African water agencies, institutions, and NGOs, David reinforces coordination and communication to strengthen national development objectives for the water sector. He holds a Master of Science degree in Management for Sustainable Development from the Dublin City University in Ireland where his research thesis was focused on supply chains and governance in rural CAR.

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