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 water, sanitation and hygiene (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 (WASH SDG) programme was born. It is implemented by the WASH SDG Consortium formed by the partners WASH Alliance International (WAI, led by Simavi), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and Plan Netherlands (Plan).
The WAI consists of Simavi (Consortium lead), Amref, Akvo, RAIN, WASTE (via Nedworc-STIP), IRC, Wetlands International, PRACTICA Foundation and RUAF (Hivos).
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.
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 2 million people and improve the hygiene behaviours of 1.6 million people before the end of 2022. The programme is implemented in seven countries and has an expected outreach of almost 9 million 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.
The WASH SDG programme is built on three core strategic objectives:
- increased demand for improved WASH facilities and practices through improved behaviour change interventions;
- 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
- 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.
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.
WAI has sub-programmes in Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda (led by Simavi), and in Ethiopia and Tanzania (led by Amref).
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.
From programme start, the Consortium defined a number of complimentary approaches 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 Organisation, 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 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
In addition, the Consortium has prioritised gender and social inclusion (GESI) as a programme learning theme. Orientated to WASH practitioners involved in the WASH SDG programme, it aims to encourage internal processes of reflection and learning on GESI both internally as well as contribute to sector-wide discussions on this theme now and in the future.
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 and accelerate structural change. 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, including:
- 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.
The WASH SDG programme results are framed within an overarching 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
- 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
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. Although each country and sub-programme prioritises their own learning themes, two were defined as of interest at the global programme level:
- Gender equity and social inclusion
- Sustainability clause, checks and compact; and Gender and social inclusive WASH programming.
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 is 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 (2020 and 2021), each prioritising specific WASH themes and countries relevant to the WASH SDG programme as defined by the Consortium. The 2020 call will be on WASH in healthcare facilities.