DFID’s central priority is that benefits achieved under the WASH Results Programme should be sustainable. Following the December 2015 deadline (March 2016 in SWIFT’s case) for delivery of outputs such as water systems, latrines and hygiene messages, the consortia implementing the programme have two years to ensure these short-term outputs are translated into medium-term outcomes; e.g. sustained use of water points and latrines and sustained hygiene behaviour change.
Checks will be carried out by the third-party monitoring and verification organisation in 2017 and March 2018, and if the outcomes targets are not met, the consortia will not receive payment in full.
The SWIFT Consortium recognised that implementation during the output phase of the programme had to lay a strong foundation for sustainable services across the full range of challenging contexts in which it works. Carefully targeted effort is now required to achieve the five dimensions of WASH sustainability set out below.
In both DRC and Kenya, SWIFT works in close collaboration with government and other local actors, to ensure that activities are embedded within broader government-led strategies for service provision, and community-based structures that will provide a strong platform for institutional sustainability.
In the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas of Kenya, for example, borehole and infrastructure locations have been negotiated with the County Governments, and management and operation of the water supply system are being carried out by local water companies. SWIFT has worked with these institutions over a number of years to understand and support their capacity. For example in Lodwar, Oxfam oversaw the mapping of the water supply system and installation of flow meters in order to improve the design of systems and enable effective cost recovery.
In Nairobi, SWIFT’s global associate WSUP has a long-standing relationship with the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Corporation (NCWSC), and particularly its Informal Settlements Department, with whom it cooperated to extend distribution networks in the residential areas of Dandora.
BBC Media Action is working with local radio stations in both Nairobi and ASAL counties through sustained mentoring programmes, to ensure that lasting skills are built to deliver relevant and effective health and hygiene promotion messages as part of engaging media content.
In DRC, a key step in the ‘Healthy Villages and Schools’ approach was to facilitate the signing of Memoranda of Understanding between the implementing partners, local community leaders, and local government representatives, such as the Bureau Central de la Zone de Santé.
At community level, Water User Committees and community health workers (such as Relais Communitaires in DRC and Community Health Volunteers in Kenya) have been recruited and trained.
Additionally, ODI facilitated participatory workshops in DRC and Kenya which provided space for discussion and reflection on interactions between WASH services, conflict risks, and the broader institutional and governance context.
SWIFT is working in contexts in which years of conflict, population movement and poverty have exacerbated insecurity and marginalisation for particular groups, including women, children, and people living with disabilities and HIV/ AIDS. Active promotion of the interest and status of these groups is being pursued in our approaches; for example, through the promotion of inclusive Water User Committees in DRC, and school-based hygiene promotion by Sanergy in Nairobi’s informal settlements and by Concern in the ASAL county of Wajir.
Understanding how gender, disability and income affects usage is also an important part of SWIFT’s monitoring and design processes. This includes household and user surveys, which provide data on tendencies for women compared with men; for people living with disabilities; and for people in different income groups. The consortium also collects information on users’ perceptions of their safety when using water supply and sanitation facilities.
SWIFT’s water and sanitation technologies are selected with the extensive experience of implementing partners to minimise maintenance complexity, especially in remote areas where spares, expertise and other inputs may be lacking; for example, through the promotion of simple pit latrines built with locally available materials in Kenya’s ASAL counties.
However, SWIFT is also using more sophisticated technologies where there is a clear rationale; for example, the solar-powered water pumps installed by partners in Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana. Extensively used by Oxfam in recent years, these solar pumps offer greater reliability and reduced costs thanks to the elimination of recurrent expenditure on fuel.
In all cases, SWIFT partners view functional sustainability as a product not only of the technology (what) but also of users (who) and usage (how).
Through the ‘Healthy Villages and Schools’ approach in DRC, training has been provided to Water User Committees on hygienic use and basic technical maintenance of the different types of water supply facilities and household latrines, as well as proper management of spare parts and consumables. Local supply chains are stimulated through this standardised process, helping to ensure that components to repair systems are available locally. Training manuals written in French for local contractors explain construction methods and the quality of materials to use.
In Nairobi’s informal settlements, Sanergy uses a range of quality-control procedures to identify any issues with the functionality of its latrines, offering direct feedback to Fresh Life Toilet Operators. Examples include ‘mystery loo-user surveys’, in which anonymous inspectors visit toilets and grade the facilities and operators on aspects such as hygiene, usability and customer service. Check-ups on the functionality of Fresh Life Toilets are also offered as an integral part of the daily waste collection visits.
There are a number of aspects to the environmental sustainability of water, sanitation and hygiene activities; for example, solid waste management, which forms part of the ‘Healthy Villages and Schools’ process in DRC, and faecal-sludge management, which is a key aspect of Sanergy’s model for the informal settlements of Nairobi.
The environmental sustainability of water points and the pollution risks associated with them are also key, and there are two broad categories of water infrastructure which require different treatment to assess these.
The first category includes boreholes accessing deep groundwater (for example, in Kenya’s ASAL counties), and large-scale urban distribution networks which rely on utility-supplied bulk water; for example in Nairobi. For these, SWIFT followed Kenya Government guidelines regarding Environmental Impact Assessments (in the case of urban infrastructure, it may be that SWIFT relies on EIAs conducted by partners, for example, the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company).
The second category includes shallow-groundwater installations such as shallow wells (in DRC and parts of Kenya’s ASAL counties) and installations that are reliant on springs (in DRC). For these, SWIFT developed an environmental sustainability assessment tool, which was shared with implementing partners as a reference, and used to inform the simple forms prepared by implementing partners in DRC and Kenya for field use. (See the SWIFT Consortium Learning Brief ‘Introducing the SWIFT tool for environmental assessment and risk screening for rural water supply‘.)
The financial cost of sustaining services can be high in both Kenya and DRC. Remoteness and foreign exchange fluctuations impact on the cost of spare parts, while a premium is placed on skilled labour.
In DRC, financial management forms a major pillar of the training of village water and sanitation committees in the ‘Healthy Villages and Schools’ approach, including book-keeping.
In the ASAL Counties of Kenya, SWIFT teams are working closely with local water utilities such as the Lodwar Water Services Company (LOWASCO), with which Oxfam has partnered to bring online three boreholes and connect them to Lodwar’s distribution network. Consumers have been taken over as new customers by LOWASCO, and are billed through its revenue collection system.
In Nairobi, where markets are better established and more commercial orientation is possible, WSUP’s business model is based on brokering sustainable client-business relationships between the populations of low-income settlements and official service providers. Under the SWIFT programme, it is helping households in Dandora obtain piped water from the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), while helping NCWSC collect a sustainable revenue stream from a new customer base.
Sanergy’s Fresh Life model, meanwhile, is predicated on realising the value chain inherent in sanitation services and faecal sludge management in urban areas, enabling Fresh-Life Toilet Operators to build sustainable micro-enterprises, the success of which is dependent on their offering a good service.