WASH SDG Programme

Today, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. Unsafe hygiene practices are widespread, compounding the effects on people’s health. Access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems are essential to human health; environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development established WASH as a priority, embodied in sustainable development goal (SDG) 6 that has the aim to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

In this context, the Netherlands Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sustainable Development Goal programme (WASH SDG programme) was born. It is implemented by the Netherlands WASH SDG Consortium formed by the partners WASH Alliance International (WAI, led by Simavi), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and Plan Netherlands (Plan). With support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directoraat Generaal Internationale Samenwerking (DGIS)/Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) department, the programme responds to the Dutch commitment to contribute to the SDGs, particularly SDG 6, with the aim of reaching an improved WASH situation for all.

Footnote 1: The WAI consists of Simavi (lead), Amref, Akvo, RAIN, WASTE (via Nedworc-STIP), IRC, Wetlands International, PRACTICA Foundation and RUAF.

continue to objectives

Overall objective

The WASH SDG programme aims to sustainably improve access to, and use of, safe drinking water for at least 450,000 people, sanitation for at least 2million people and improve the hygiene behaviours of 1,6million people before the end of 2022. The programme is implemented in seven countries and has an expected outreach of almost 9million people.

The programme is being implemented in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with two or more sub-national level programmes (sub-programmes) developed per country. WAI has sub-programmes in Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda (Lead Implementing Organisation: Simavi), and in Ethiopia and Tanzania (Lead Implementing Organisation: Amref). WAI is Consortium country lead in Ethiopia (Amref), and Uganda (Simavi).

Specific objectives

The WASH SDG programme is built on three core strategic objectives:

  1. increased demand for improved WASH facilities and practices through improved behaviour change interventions;
  2. improved quality of service provision, thus leading to increased availability and affordability of WASH products and services which contributes to sustainable and equitable access to WASH; and
  3. strengthened WASH governance and institutional framework in the sector, leading to governments enabling efficient and effective delivery of inclusive and sustainable WASH services which contributes to sustainable and equitable access to WASH.

The programme targets for the Simavi-led countries are to sustainably improve access to, and use of, safe drinking water for at least 266,300 people, sanitation for at least 388,500 people and improve the hygiene behaviours of 198,900 people before the end of 2022, with a total outreach of 1,4 million people.

Gender equality and social inclusion is an area of specific attention in each of the three strategic objectives as well as climate vulnerability and resilience, as is sustainable systems change.

continue to approach

During the programme development stage (2016) and inception phase (July 2017-June 2018), numerous assessments, pilots and baseline information was collected and analysed. This gave the Consortium a wealth of information and provided further input to make strategic decisions for the implementation phase of the programme.

A number of complimentary approaches were defined for the programme to try and deliver sustainable and resilient WASH interventions. They are based on the understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of access to, and use of, safe drinking water, sanitation services and related hygiene behaviours.

1)    Integrated sector and area-wide approach

The sector wide approach “brings together governments, donors, and other stakeholders. It is characterized by a set of operating principles rather than a specific package of policies or activities. The approach involves movement over time under government leadership towards: broadening policy dialogue, developing a single sector policy (that addresses private and public sector issues) and a common realistic expenditure programme; common monitoring arrangements; and more coordinated procedures for funding and procurement.” (World Health Organization, World Health Report 2000). The WASH SDG programme guarantees integration of water, sanitation and hygiene on the ground through the promotion of behavioural change to WASH practices, service delivery and good governance.

The programme also takes an area-wide approach, taking into account the different national and sub-national divisions in intervention and catchment areas, and how the households and public and private sector interrelate at the different levels to deliver quality WASH services.

2)    Leave no-one behind

The programme aims to contribute to reach universal coverage of basic and/or safely managed WASH services. To ensure that no-one is left behind, the programme is in the process of developing new ways of thinking about how equity, equality and processes of exclusion are addressed in the sector. The Consortium aims to influence gender equality and social inclusion through our WASH interventions, both for women and girls, as well as across social (ethnic, caste, class) groups through the use of a number of approaches. Some of the main approaches used by Simavi are:

  • Women-centred and gender transformative WASH;
  • Inclusion lens approach

3)    Sustainability and systems change

The WASH SDG Consortium is fully committed to ensuring sustainability and equity of WASH services during and beyond the programme duration. It is integral to our way of working, and visible throughout the programme in many ways. In the countries in which we are active, we work on changing mind-sets and creating systems for sustainable and affordable WASH services that create structural change and can accelerate. We do so by applying a multi-stakeholder approach (households, communities, government and private sector) and work towards systems change to enact informed decision making, access to services and creating an enabling environment in support of sustainability of WASH services to all. It is important to note that the sustainability of WASH services depends on all FIETS sustainability principles, including the institutional and financial system the services are embedded in. This is not merely the market environment, government organisations and socio-cultural setting, but the checks and balances in that system and how different levels interconnect. As such, the programme takes multiple approaches:

  • Behavioural change approach: This programme aims to promote a sustainable change in social norms and behaviours. Only a change in vision and habits in relation to sanitation, hygiene and safe drinking water will lead to lasting changes in WASH practices;
  • Engagement and empowerment of local and national authorities: as duty bearers of the human right to access to water and sanitation in their area (local) governments are a key stakeholder in the programme. Their engagement and ownership is essential for long-term sustainability of services in an area. The Consortium took the approach to work in areas where local governments were willing to sign sustainability compacts, which confirm the commitment from the parties involved to ensure sustainability and equity of the WASH services beyond the programme duration.
  • Engagement and strengthening of the private sector: support a system of affordable supply and services through a mix of market-based and community-based solutions, including access to credit and loans.

4)    Climate resilient WASH services

The WASH SDG Consortium aims to reach unserved and vulnerable populations, many of whom live in areas disproportionally affected by climate change and mostly affecting women more than men. Droughts, flooding, temperature fluctuations and out-of-season events do not only challenge (traditional) design assumptions of WASH services, but also pose (new) risks to us in terms of too much water, too little water or poor quality of water. Environmental sustainability and climate resilience are high on the agenda of our programme interventions and strategies.

continue to result

Country implementation

The WASH SDG programme results are framed within the global-level Theory of Change and contribute to the following 11 outcome areas:

Long-term outcomes:

– Sustainable and equitable use of WASH by all

  • Population is making progress towards the use of safely managed drinking water
  • Population is making progress towards the use of safely managed sanitation services
  • Population making progress towards better hygiene practices

Intermediate outcomes:

– Increased behaviour change interventions

  • Local agencies implement more effective demand-creation strategy
  • Increased involvement of consumers in improving WASH conditions
  • Increased level of participation of women and girls in decision making about WASH activities in the communities
  • Increased level of participation of socially excluded groups in decision making about WASH activities in the communities

– Improved WASH service provision

  • Increased availability of WASH products and services for the bottom of the pyramid
  • Improved WASH market
  • Increased presence of female entrepreneurs

– Strengthened WASH governance and institutional framework

  • Progress in key sector policies and regulations/ for sustainable inclusive WASH


Global programme implementation

In addition to the above outcome areas, the programme has two additional transversal components:

Learning and Knowledge Development:

By joining forces, there is combined reach and implementation capacity. Together much larger country programmes with high quality interventions can be delivered. The aim of the learning component of the programme is to support capacity building, advocacy activities and upscaling within the WASH sector in the programme countries, in the Netherlands and internationally. Two key themes that will be undertaken from the first year of programme implementation include: Sustainability clause, checks and compact; and Gender and social inclusive WASH programming.

Innovation Fund:

The WASH SDG innovation fund was established to complement and enhance the impact of the Consortium’s programme and to increase the catalytic effects or spin-off beyond this programme.

The aim of the WASH SDG innovation fund is to encourage the trialling of innovative models and approaches to WASH that will complement and enhance the impact of the Consortium’s programme and contribute to achieving SDG 6 by 2030.

The main objectives of the fund will be to: (i) identify areas of potential innovation in the WASH sector; (ii) provide the opportunity to test innovative approaches and practices in the WASH sector and gather evidence of their impact (or lack of); and (iii) disseminate findings (success and failures) to improve the performance of the wider WASH sector.

There will be two calls (2019 and 2020), each prioritising specific WASH themes and countries relevant to the WASH SDG programme as defined by the Consortium. The call will be open to Dutch and local organisations/institutes, and will be by invitation only. Invited entities will be selected based on their clear expertise in the WASH themes prioritised. More information on the Innovation Fund will be made available in 2019.

Situation Approach Result

Programme information

  • Overal Budget

    € 59,000,000

  • 5 years

  • Location

    The Netherlands WASH SDG Programme is being implemented in seven countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
    WAI is active in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
    Simavi is active in Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda.

  • Target groups

    The WASH SDG programme will implement 15 sub-programmes in the seven countries and extend to a total of 49 locations (19 rural and 30 (peri-)urban).

    Simavi will lead the implementation three of the sub-programmes (WAI Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda) in a total of 14 locations (five rural and nine (peri-)urban).
    In line with the SDGs, the programme aims to sustainably improve the WASH situation for all without any discrimination. Programme activities target those households in communities and cities that have insufficient access to WASH facilities and/or practice unhealthy WASH behaviours. This includes the hard-to-reach households, the poorest of the poor and those living in remote or slum areas. Targets have been set keeping in mind that reaching the last mile in a sustainable, inclusive manner is more difficult than going for the easier to reach communities/groups/people.  

  • Alliance partners

    Consortium partners: WASH Alliance International, SNV and Plan International Netherlands

    WASH Alliance International partners: Simavi (lead), Amref, Akvo, RAIN, WASTE (Via Nedworc-STIP), IRC, Wetlands International, PRACTICA Foundation and RUAF

  • Implementing partners

    Local offices and local partners of WAI, SNV, PLAN.

  • Donors

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands/DGIS IGG Water Cluster

  • Role of Simavi

    Simavi is the lead of the WAI and therefore on behalf of the WAI the contract partner to DGIS and lead for the Consortium.

    Simavi also has the following roles:
    Country lead of Uganda for consortium and WAI.
    Country lead for Bangladesh for WAI.
    Country lead for Nepal for WAI.

Do you want to know more about the WASH SDG Programme?

Please contact the Consortium Programme Coordinator Eva Duarte-Davidson.

+31 (0)88 313 15 87

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