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A whirlwind of information gathering at World Water Week

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Last week I attended the World Water Week Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. It was my first time at this huge event and I didn’t know what to expect. Although it was quite overwhelming at first, in the end it proved to be very fruitful and enjoyable.

The conference presented an excellent opportunity for me to learn, network and meet people who are involved in the water and sanitation sector. My main aim was to gather information for a desktop review that I am conducting on CLTS Monitoring, Verification and Certification. Unfortunately for me, there is a lot more at the conference relating to water, than to sanitation, and actually very few sessions even touched upon CLTS as an approach. However, the people I met made it really worthwhile. Here are a few of my highlights.

Session Highlights
The first session I attended was about post project sustainability in WASH. There was a strong call for more post implementation monitoring, ideally involving government, the community and the implementing partners in their different roles. However, this goal has implications for funding of implementers beyond the project time frame, for motivating government staff to collect relevant information, and for ensuring that appropriate monitoring tools are available.

Two other sessions focused on establishing monitoring systems for Goal 6 of the new SDGs. Indicators for each target are being developed and methodologies for data collection are being piloted. I was a little concerned that the focus might still be on counting toilets, not ODF communities.

Discussions on CLTS monitoring, verification and certification
In between the sessions I had meetings with some of the participants to discuss experiences and examples relating to CLTS Monitoring, Verification and Certification. Saima Shafique, Head of WASH in the Ministry of Climate Change in the Government of Pakistan, said that monitoring is still a weakness for them, particularly post ODF monitoring, and they are keen to learn from others. Each implementing agency follows their own strategy but they are not well aligned. They have a national verification process but she acknowledge that it needed updating to improve its focus on post-ODF sustainability.

Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, National Coordinator for IRC in Uganda and Kate Harawa, Country Director with Water for People in Malawi are both involved in Global Sanitation Programme interventions in their respective countries. In Uganda they are using an approach called Follow Up MANDONA, promoted by GSF for post triggering follow up. This touches lightly on the issue of monitoring. In Malawi, they often use exchange visits between communities to aid monitoring.

I met a very dynamic and enthusiastic civil servant from Chhattisgarh, India, of the State “Clean India Mission”. She described to me their innovative verification process whereby when a Panchayat (collection of villages) self declares then a team from a different block (district subdivision) will come to verify. Similarly, once a block declares itself ODF a team from a different district has to come and verify. This exchange process reduces internal false reporting, and promotes exchange of experience and lessons. Once a panchayat or block is verified there are huge celebrations for the presentation of the certificate resulting which effectively raises the profile of good sanitation in the neighbouring area.

It was a great experience for me to attend World Water Week and I am most grateful to the people who spared their time to meet and share with me.

Kath Pasteur is an independent development consultant.


Date: 7 September 2016