Washington, DC, United States — Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) experts from around the world met last week at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, to discuss how to improve sustainability of international WASH programs.
The 2013 WASH Sustainability Forum, funded by the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WASH Advocates, Global Water Challenge, IRC Water and Sanitation Research Center, Aguaconsult, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, brought together over 150 representatives of governments, civil society, corporations and foundations from 14 countries to engage in “frank, open conversations,” according to WASH Advocates, a DC-based initiative dedicated to helping solve the global WASH challenge.
Presentations highlighted WASH government activities in Bangladesh, Honduras, Albania, Guinea and Uganda. Examples of successful collaboration were also presented by Coca-Cola, Water For People and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Greg Koch, director of Global Water Stewardship in the Environment & Water Resources Department at Coca-Cola, noted that water is the biggest part of the company’s supply chain, and it is under growing stress.
Droughts, infrastructure issues, pricing, climate change and regulatory limits are playing a role in limiting the resource, Koch said.
He described several challenges that can arise in partnerships working on WASH projects, including donors without involvement in project outcomes, a disconnect between headquarters-run operations and on-the-ground realities and lack of an exit strategy.
He suggested partners take an equal share of the risks, have local ownership for execution with clear reporting, and design for both a clear ending point and a sustainable project.
Leonard Tedd, senior infrastructure adviser on the WASH Team at DFID, discussed risks of poor coordination, which included inefficiencies like duplication, different expectations from the community and fragmented technical assistance.
He suggested making sure there is clear accountability, clarity in ownership, good sector coordination, and understanding of the political economy of service delivery, particularly decentralization.
“We all have shared objectives. There is a need to work through country systems to deliver a sustainable impact on the ground, and this forum amplifies the call to action,” WASH Advocates quoted him as saying.
Jae So, Manager of the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program said the bank was “thrilled to host the Sustainability Forum with our civil society partners, as we all strive to ensure that water and sanitation interventions have a positive impact for generations to come. At the World Bank Group, our government clients increasingly look to us for knowledge and expertise to help develop approaches that work over the long term.”
The forum is meant to kick-off activities surrounding World Water Day on March 22.