Author Archives: usaidwaterckm

Water Currents: Learning from Failures

Water Currents: Learning from Failures, April 23, 2019

Many international development projects have unintended negative consequences. Without post-implementation evaluation, these unintended consequences can go unnoticed by almost everyone—except the people who were supposed to benefit from the project. Even with evaluations, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) professionals are often reluctant to share poor findings due to perceived repercussions. However, allowing others to learn from mistakes could help to prevent the same problems from happening again. learning

Several organizations, including USAID, @FSM_Fail, Improve International, the World Bank, and others, are pushing to change this attitude toward failure. They see learning from failure as a way to improve the success and sustainability of programs and projects in the WASH sector.

This issue features articles that talk about failure, how to identify and avoid future failures, and the role of finance in mitigating failure. It includes case studies from Tanzania, Nigeria, and Nepal, as well as studies that discuss learning from failure in rural water supply and urban sanitation systems. Also highlighted are studies that looked at both success and failure, including the first four (in a series of six) ex-post evaluations that discuss factors that affect the long-term sustainability of USAID WASH projects. A special thanks goes out to @FSM_Fail and Improve International for contributing content and reviewing this issue.


Learning from Failures – Overviews
Blunders, Bloopers and Foul-Ups: Sharing Failures in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene ProgramsEngineering for Change, August 2018. Until a culture of sharing and learning from failures is more widely instilled in the WASH sector, practitioners will continue to make the same mistakes, possibly at the expense of those whom the programs are designed to benefit. This article describes how a “failure event” raised awareness of this topic.

The Nakuru Accord: Failing Better in the WASH SectorUniversity of Leeds WASH Blog, January 2019. In July 2018, an event at the Water Engineering Development Centre Conference in Nakuru, Kenya, “Blunders, Bloopers and Foul-ups: A WASH Game Show,” (mentioned above) inspired a call for WASH professionals to publicly commit to sharing their failures and learning from one another. The Nakuru Accord is that commitment.

Opinion: Want to Improve Development Outcomes? Anticipate the Failures. Here’s HowDevex, February 2018. This article discusses “premortems,” a strategy in which a team imagines that a project has failed, and then works backward to determine what can lead to failure in order to address the issues before projects start.

Read the complete issue.

Emergency WASH Websites, Online Guides and Other Resources

Dear Colleagues:

Please review and let us know if you have additional resources that should be added.

Emergency WASH Websites, Online Guides and Other Resources (April 24, 2019 update)

Recent Online Toolkits/Guides/Resource Centers

Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. EAWAG, 2016. This second, revised edition of the Compendium presents a huge range of information on sanitation systems and technologies in one volume. By ordering and structuring tried and tested technologies into once concise document, the reader is provided with a useful planning tool for making more informed decisions. emergencies

Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies – The MHM in Emergencies project is a collaboration between Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the International Rescue Committee. The project has developed an MHM in emergencies toolkit and formative assessments were conducted in two humanitarian response settings.

Humanitarian Innovation Guide. Elrha, 2018. The Guide is written with two audiences in mind: humanitarian practitioners who are seeking to develop a new approach to their work and want to apply an innovation lens to solving problems; and social entrepreneurs from outside the sector who have identified an opportunity to engage with the sector and need a humanitarian framework to contextualise their innovation plans.

Resource Centers

Global WASH Cluster Resource Centre – The GWC Resource includes evidence-based publications and guidance related to WASH interventions for emergency response scenarios. The repository includes 130 of technical emergency WASH documents so far. The number of documents will be regularly incremented.

Humanitarian Library – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – This online library contains more than 400 WASH related reports and studies.

Working Groups/Google Groups

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) Working Group 8—Emergency & Reconstruction Situations – The objective of this working group is to combine the knowledge from experts in the fields of sanitation with the knowledge from experts in the field of emergency response and reconstruction. Resources on the website include a factsheet, a library, and the report, Preferences for Accessing Emergency WASH Knowledge.

Emergency WASH Google Group – The Global WASH Cluster and USAID manages this information sharing forum. Its purpose is to provide group members with current research, upcoming events, etc. related to WASH issues in emergency situations.

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Cloth, cow dung, cups: how the world’s women manage their periods

Cloth, cow dung, cups: how the world’s women manage their periods. The Guardian, April 2019.

For women living without access to basic sanitation, menstruation can be especially challenging. Their resourcefulness knows no bounds mhm.jpg

From animal skins and old rags to cow patties and silicon cups, women around the world use all sorts of materials to manage their periods each month.

Basic necessities for dealing properly with menstruation, such as access to clean water or a decent toilet, are simply unavailable to millions of women and girls.

Without these services, menstruation can negatively affect women’s health as well as their involvement in social and economic activities, says Louisa Gosling of WaterAid, which has published a photo gallery detailing the various ways women around the world manage their periods.

Read the complete article.

@USAIDWater – Earth Day 2019

This April 22, join us in celebration of Earth Day 2019.

Learn more about how USAID and its partners around the world are laying the foundation for a more water-secure world.

April 18, 2019 – Water Security in an Uncertain Future: Enhancing Water Resources Management and Planning by Reducing Climate- and Weather- Related Risks

Water Security in an Uncertain Future: Enhancing Water Resources Management and Planning by Reducing Climate- and Weather- Related Risks

  • Date: Apr 18, 2019 – 4:00PM to 5:30PM EDT
  • SPONSORED BY ATLAS
  • WHO SHOULD ATTEND? USAID Staff, USAID Implementing Partners, Interested Public

Global water security is vulnerable to a range of risks, including those that are climate- and weather-related, such as floods, recurrent droughts and variable rainfall patterns. As these become increasingly more frequent and intense, safeguarding water resources is paramount to achieving development outcomes that help countries become more self-reliant. swp

An integrated approach to water resources planning and decision-making that addresses short- and long-term risks across capital investments in infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and human resources is needed to ensure high quality management and availability of increasingly scarce water resources.

The April Adaptation Community Meeting will focus on climate-related risks to water security and how USAID is responding through water resources management and planning. Approaches include examining climate related impacts affecting transboundary water resources and allocation, integrating a climate vulnerability assessment into decision-making, and use of natural infrastructure to improve water security and contribute to building resilience. The event will feature a panel discussion of relevant USAID-funded activities in Southern Africa, the Mara basin in East Africa, and Peru. Presentations will cover the following topics:

  • Resilient Waters – USAID’s Resilient Waters program builds on previous USAID investments in the region, such as the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) and Resilience in the Limpopo Basin (RESILIM) programs, to build the resilience of institutions and communities to reduce climate related risks. Working in the Limpopo and Okavango basins, Resilient Waters will build the capacity of various stakeholder groups to identify, prepare for, and adapt to climate risks. The project, early in its inception, plans to facilitate scenario planning exercises with stakeholders to identify capacity needs and develop adaptation responses based on resilience and vulnerability assessments conducted by SAREP and RESILIM, among others.
  • Sustainable Water Partnership – The USAID Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) launched an activity in the Mara basin to improve on-the-ground water security, develop a basin-wide plan for allocating water, and provide the tools and science to improve decision-making around water. To support these goals, the Adaptation Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) project conducted a basin-wide climate vulnerability assessment to inform water allocation plan decision-making.

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Container-based sanitation: one way to reach the last mile for sanitation services

Container-based sanitation: one way to reach the last mile for sanitation services. World Bank Water Blog, February 2019.

Container-based sanitation (CBS) is one of the ways that such services can be provided. CBS consists of an end-to-end service – i.e. one provided along the entire sanitation service chain – which collects excreta hygienically from toilets designed with sealable, removable containers and which strives to ensure that the excreta is safely treated and disposed of or reused. cbs_cover.png

For cities, this has major implications as it can help them shift their focus from exclusively building sanitation infrastructure to that of service delivery.

Where is CBS appropriate?
Based on a review of four CBS service providers, the World Bank has identified the following emerging lessons:

  • CBS approaches should be considered as part of a menu of CWIS options, particularly in hard-to-reach areas of cities.
  • The introduction of CBS services could especially be considered for poor urban populations for whom alternative on-site or sewer-based sanitation services might not be appropriate.
  • Adopting a conducive policy and regulatory environment could be an important first step for governments looking to foster CBS services in areas where they could be suitable.
  • Recognizing the fact that CBS service providers will likely not be covering their full costs in the short- to medium-term, and that most urban sanitation services are subsidized, public authorities and/or water supply and sanitation service providers could explore ways to ensure that CBS services are sustainably financed.

Integrating Green and Gray: Creating Next Generation Infrastructure – World Bank

Integrating Green and Gray: Creating Next Generation Infrastructure. World Bank, April 2019. worldbank

A new generation of infrastructure projects that harness the power of nature can help achieve development goals, including water security and climate resilience.

In this report from the World Bank and World Resources Institute, both organizations are calling for green infrastructure, such as mangroves and wetlands, to play a bigger role in traditional infrastructure planning.

Integrating nature into mainstream infrastructure systems can produce lower cost and more resilient services. This report guides developing country service providers and their partners on how to seize this opportunity. It reviews approaches and examples of how to integrate green infrastructure into mainstream project appraisal processes and investments.