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IRC symposium on Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery Symposium kicks off in Addis Ababa

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Yesterday (9th April), the Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery Symposium, started in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There are 409 participants from different institutions –international NGOs, governments, academia, consultants…– involved in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector, coming from all over the world.

There is an ‘official’ blog of the symposium, where you can find posts about the different contributions. Here, I will just share some of the most enlightening insights of my first day.

The opening session was quite interesting: current trends of the WASH sector were presented, such as the shift from monitoring access to monitoring service delivery (eg use). Also 4 W-issues were raised: Why monitor, What to monitor, Who monitors and hoW to monitor. If you want to learn a bit about this, you can have a look at the background paper.

Another appealing speech was about the Human Right to water and sanitation, about which you can read in the Symposium blog. I would highlight two of the ideas presented, namely that monitoring from a rights perspective can help increase accountability, as well as put at the centre the poorest and most marginalised (which are invisible to many monitoring systems, for instance slum dwellers or migrant workers).  You can read more about the right to water and sanitation in the good practices book recently published.

In the afternoon, we split into topic groups. In the one dealing with monitoring in the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector, an overview of experiences, issues, and challenges was presented (see more in the keynote paper). We also had an exciting presentation about monitoring the enabling environment as a way to improve programmes, based on previous WSP work. Afterwards, members of various organisations (UNICEF, Plan and Engineering Without Borders Canada) presented their experiences in different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa using Community-Led Approaches (mostly CLTS but also adaptations of it). Some of the most relevant ideas shared by presenters and participants were:

  • Countries that had established ODF protocols (national code of procedure for planning, implementing, monitoring, verifying and certifying ODF and beyond) show better outcomes. See Jolly Ann’s post for more ideas on the protocols.
  • Definition of ODF is considered the first step for setting up a protocol. It is also positive to define an ‘ODF plus’ status, which includes further behaviours that contribute to total sanitation. Have a look at Lilongwe briefings related to post-triggering  to expand on this.
  • But, ODF (and ODF plus) definition is not enough; mechanisms need to be establish about how to reach and verify this status. Nevertheless, post-ODF monitoring remains a neglected area, despite its importance for sustainability.
  • A related issue was raised by a couple of participants: from their experience, CLTS can empower a community to reach ODF status, but this will not lead automatically to households moving up the sanitation ladder and sustainability of the status. There is a need to keep supporting, for instance through sanitation marketing so that households can access affordable hardware.

If you want to dig a bit deeper into these and further issues, have a look at Jolly Ann’s post about this same symposium!

 Andrés Hueso González ahuesog@upvnet.upv.es 

Date: 11 April 2013