SanCoP/Concern Event- Minutes from Workshop September 11th 2013


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SanCoP/Concern Event- Minutes from Workshop September 11th 2013

Agenda for SanCoP workshop in collaboration with Concern 11th September 2013

“Urban sanitation in low income countries: what are the main lessons learned by INGO's from past failures or successes?

This event in collaboration with the UK’s Sanitation Community of Practice and Concern was held on 11th September 2013 and was kindly hosted by Concern.

The meeting looked to ask how urban sanitation in low income counties could be addressed by INGO’s and in particular to provide a ‘space’ for attendees to discuss their experiences in this arena. This event builds on previous SanCoP events about strategies for dealing with urban sanitation but looks to identify the role of one particular player, International Non-Governmental Organisations.

Nine participants attended and contributed to the discussion with the attendance list being presented at the end of this document. The following is a very short synopsis of what was discussed throughout the sessions.

Session 1: Identify failures in urban sanitation

The first session looked to identify commonly reported failures within urban sanitation. Firstly, Ruth Kennedy-Walker presented (using PowerPoint) a range of commonly reported failures she had collated from a recent paper she had compiled, her own experiences with urban sanitation and from previous SanCoP events held on this subject area. Members were then encouraged to add to those presented by using their own personal experiences. The following table provides various issues that were discussed (those in italic are contributions from the audience.)
Commonly Identified Failures in Urban Sanitation

•Lack of political will and explicit institutional commitment to planning and sanitation service delivery.
• Issues of local capacity and under-resourced institutions with a tendency to lack a planning culture.
• Lack of clarity regarding responsibility for sanitation provision.
• The set- up of institutions can limit the type of service they can deliver.
• Weak ability of institutions to engage with communities and household level.
• Political implications associated with sanitation, restricting change.
• The integration with hygiene and water supply and focus on water supply.
• Size of cities and zoning(related to political parties)
• Political implications- unwillingness to work with NGO’s partners and impact of external events such as election etc.
• Sanitation homed in different government departments
• Corruption
• Legacy/Institutional issues/Burdens

• Continued focus on providing conventional sewerage and limitations associated.
• Lack of technical innovations- often cause by imposed institutional limitations (policies, planning regulations, technical norms and standards, and conventions.)
• Lack of capacity and understanding related to range of technological options available.
• Difficulty of ensuring the most appropriate technology choice is implemented.
• Implementation of hardware without adequate use of hygiene promotion and social marketing.
• Unwillingness to change/try new technologies
• Issue related to scaling up from rural> small scale>urban>large scale
• Physical characteristics and technological mismatch with environment (Lack of space)
• Understanding the true nature of the technical problem
• Lack of ‘big idea’ in urban sanitation
• Desludging and multi sector approaches to the sanitation value chain

• Lack of public funding available for sanitation.
• Attractiveness of sanitation for private investment.
• Lack of obvious funding channel for funders for projects other than those at a very large scale e.g. utilities.
• Uncertainty in how to ensuring effective use of funds: better to fund “public good elements” such as treatment works, hygiene and sanitation marketing rather than hardware.
• Lack of funding to have enough of an impact- diluted
• Discrete, time bound, rigid funding-participatory approaches take time to work
• Greater role for private sector
• Affordability for all stakeholders and value for money
• Sanitation marketing can work but issues with tenancy (not owning their own homes)

Social (Biggest barrier)

• Issues of creating effective demand at household and collective community level.
• Coordination of interventions across the community as a whole.
• Finding the right balance between public and private benefits of access to sanitation and creating local mechanisms that balance local household need with wider societal ones.
• Issues related to capacities of consumers to participate and facilitation available for such processes.
• Inability of solutions to keep up with erratic population growth and expansion.
• Lack of cohesion which is especially seen in urban context
• Lack of sense of community
• Low priority given to sanitation
• Proposing communal latrines is often difficult
• Local, political structures may be complex with traditional WASH committees necessarily working
• Defining boundaries in urban environments is difficult.
• Lack of consistency between different programmes going on.
• Lack of documentation/legacy/reporting of activity and interventions.

Other issues

• Lack of accountability through credible monitoring and evaluation.
• Limited availability of successful plans or well documented examples.
• Trying to solve the ‘whole sanitation challenge’ in one rather than focusing on the most important challenges first and a ‘phased holistic solution’.
• Failure of creating an ‘enabling environment’ for sanitation intervention (governance, law, institutional, knowledge, training, communication, finance).
• Lack of understanding of current ‘enabling environment’ particulars and existing system as a whole, previous problems faced and interventions.
• How to manage long-term M and E and impact assessments in reality
• What do you do with information collected? What if it is a failure?
• Knowledge management (lack of) and difficulty of managing staff turnover
• Lengths of programmes and timescales
• How to create working feedback loops from Monitoring and Evaluation data.
• Lack of integration into other services/sectors such as shelter, infrastructure, planning.

Session 2: Identify the role of INGO in urban sanitation

This session looked to explore what we felt the role of INGO’s working in urban sanitation should be. Discussion’s opened by identifying that their role is to plug a gap by working with the government and providing a link between communities and higher levels of authority/stakeholders. Along with this highlighted was INGO’s role to add value to governments provision in terms of resources, capacity etc. and to also add value to other areas through other mechanisms such as seed funding and capacity building. We identified that to be successful within this sector it is important to work out how you can be influential and to identify early on in the process where you can align yourself best. Finally, we discussed the role of INGO and their position to try and reach the most vulnerable and poorest within society.

Aside from this we also explored what we felt were the limitations of INGOs in this sector. Firstly, we acknowledge that urban environments are complex ones and so for stakeholders INGO’s it can be difficult to influence activity here. However, we identified that it is important to bring something to the table although being aware of your organisation/individual’s capacity is key. We also discussed the difficulty of INGO’s to coordinate especially where smaller NGO’s are competing for funding or to win contracts. There is also limitation to the role of NGO’s in controlling certain funding streams and in situations were corruption occurs.

Session 3: Discuss how INGOs could play a role in overcoming some of the failures seen in urban sanitation
During the final session Franck Flachenberg from Concern presented an example of one of their implemented programme. Other participants also discussed examples from personal experience of working within or alongside INGOs in urban sanitation.


Ed Ramsay, Independent WASH consultant
Ruth Kennedy-Walker, Newcastle University
David Dalgado, Independent consultant
Hayley Sharp, DFID
Franck Flachenberg, Concern
Jeremy Colin, WASH consultant
Anne Johnson, Solidarites International
Angus McBribe, Oxfam
Polly Gardner, Loowatt

[Posted by Hector]
Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sector Program Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn, Germany
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