Safe water and hygienic living conditions are essential for human health and livelihoods, but the world is facing a water crisis: fresh water is our most degraded natural resource, with rapidly increasing scarcity and declining quality due to population growth, economic development, unsustainable land use, pollution and climate change. Access to safe water is very unequal, and poor people live in increasingly unhealthy environments causing ill health, economic loss and political tensions. Despite considerable progress in some countries, 884 million people still lack access to safe drinking water, while 2.6 billion have no access to adequate sanitation. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are particularly off-track. The main causes are lack of good governance, both public and private, and of an effective political voice for the poor: water and sanitation are not political priorities, citizens’ rights are violated, investments are badly targeted and technology choices are often inappropriate. Lack of local ownership leads to bad maintenance and dysfunctional infrastructures. The private sector has potential, but is not yet geared to successfully service the potentially large market for water and sanitation. Organizations often work in parallel, instead of combining efforts and expertise. Promising, though, are the increasing recognition of the Right to Water and Sanitation and of the importance of MDG7, and the initiative to harmonize donor and country efforts in the Sanitation and Water for All initiative. The Dutch government has shown significant leadership in spearheading these efforts.
Main objectives of assessment
The main objective of the WASH Alliance’s five year programme (2011-2015) is to reach: reduced poverty and improved health, environmental and economic conditions by empowering people and creating an enabling environment, thus achieving increased sustainable access to and use of safe water and sanitation services and improved hygiene practices for women and marginalised groups. To implement its coordinated water, sanitation and hygiene programme, the members of the WASH Alliance work with their Southern partners in 8 countries in a multi-stakeholder approach. They involve civil society and the private and public sectors: building civil society from the community level up to the local, national and international level, strengthening CSOs and key stakeholders as well as the networks that link them. The ultimate purpose is to ensure that all relevant stakeholders have the capacity to perform well in their own roles, to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Four supporting objectives have been formulated:
(1) Empowered communities, specifically women and girls, will demand and achieve sustainable access to and use of safe water, improved sanitation and hygienic living condition; This objectives contributes directly to MDG7. The Alliance will apply intervention strategies that focus on sustainable economic development and direct poverty alleviation (DEODAB) and civil society strengthening (MO) at community level. Typical activities by Southern CSOs include: community organising in Community Based Organisations (CBOs), such as water committees; training and awareness raising; participatory planning; hygiene promotion; social marketing of sanitation; construction and rehabilitation of water infrastructure; promotion of eco-sanitation and productive re-use of water and waste; promotion of appropriate technologies for WASH infrastructure; implementing measures to retain water;
(2) Relevant service providers in the business sector, public sector and civil society will co-operate to respond to the need for sustainable, accessible, affordable and demand-driven WASH services. Intervention strategies will focus on civil society strengthening (MO) at intermediary level (NGOs, multi-stakeholder networks, involvement of private and public sector). Typical activities include: develop and implement capacity building plans for Southern partners; workshops and facilitation to promote multi-stakeholder cooperation; support local planning processes; develop regional knowledge centres; training of CSOs, private sector actors, government staff; strengthen networks for knowledge sharing;
(3) Policy makers and key actors will promote and enable the sustainable realisation of the right to water and sanitation through their policies, programmes and budget allocations, and are held accountable for their achievements in WAS; Intervention strategies will focus on policy influencing (BB) and strengthening the capacity of CSOs at local, national and international level to lobby, advocate and campaign (MO). Typical activities : lobbying and advocacy campaigns at local, national and international level on issues such as: budget allocations to WASH; targeting of resources; coordination in the sector; recognition and realisation of the Right to Water and Sanitation (RTWS); sustainable approaches to WASH; building capacities of CSOs in lobbying and campaigning, and strengthen Southern involvement in lobbying networks;
(4) A stable, complementary, effective and accountable Alliance (in North and South), in which participating actors will feel ownership, share knowledge and co-ordinate work towards sustainable integration of WASH into policies, strategies and programmes, in order to increase the access to and use of WASH facilities; Intervention strategies will focus on civil society strengthening (MO ) and improved coordination and harmonisation in the WASH Sector with strong South - North links. Typical activities : form and facilitate programme country teams, build PME capacities, share knowledge, hold joint planning and review meetings, strengthen Southern involvement in governance.
Added value of WASH alliance
The Group forming the WASH Alilance together with their Southern and Northern Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who cooperate within the Alliance feel that they have an added value
- An enormous combined outreach and impact, by bringing to the sector increased learning, better focus and critical mass.
- Sustainability through the systematic adherence to five key sustainability principles, called the ‘FIETS’: F inancial, I nstitutional, E nvironmental, T echnological and S ocial sustainability.
- A truly integrated programme covering the entire WASH chain from water supply to sanitation and hygiene promotion from community to the international level.
- An emphasis on in-country and cross-country linking and learning, by building networks and using innovative web-based ICT tools. To do this, the WASH Alliance works directly with 113 Southern partners.