Article "Initiating De-colonisation of WASH sector Knowledge"

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  • Doreen
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Article "Initiating De-colonisation of WASH sector Knowledge"

Dear Colleagues,

Today I came across a very interesting piece by Euphresia Luseka titled "Initiating De-colonisation of WASH sector Knowledge"

Here is the link: https://medium.com/@euphresia_luseka/initiating-de-colonization-of-wash-sector-knowledge-c8ad0a9f8d6

Two key sections below.

"While appreciating the high volume of on-going WASH and Covid-19 webinars, as WASH actors, have we noticed the explicit imbalance on global WASH sector knowledge? It is for this reason that I support Bruce. B., (2019) who argues that, while the physical colonisation of the countries of the global South by the countries of the global North may have ended, knowledge colonialism continues."

"In the year 2020, it is puzzling how North donor organizations design strategies, policy documents, frameworks, guidelines and so on to guide Africa’s water sector and they are endorsed for sector practice with zero participation in authoring, editing or overall contributions by Africans including those from their organizations. Instead Africans feature in data collection where we are asked the normal how long does it take you to fetch water and the likes? Does it mean Africans are consumers of knowledge and not producers?"
Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
Policy Advisor in Bonn, Germany
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
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  • Carol McCreary
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Re: Article "Initiating De-colonisation of WASH sector Knowledge"

I agree, Doreen.  We've skirted around this aspect of knowledge management too long.  Without taking it to heart.

It's gotten worse in my lifetime. When I was at university we were guided by Paulo Freire.  He forced us to be sure we knew whose voices we should be listening to.  Not exactly the same issue as professionals from the North carrying on blindly like this.   But the times - the earlier post colonial years - were different, too.

Please share your views to keep the conversation going. Medium will likely welcome a follow up piece, too.

Yes, "Water experts seem to be the enemies within towards SDG 6 realization."   Time to re-write the narrative.

Carol
Carol McCreary
Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH)
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Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Article "Initiating De-colonisation of WASH sector Knowledge"

Hi Doreen and all,

Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. I would like to learn more and reflect on our own work as well. You pointed out this paragraph:

In the year 2020, it is puzzling how North donor organizations design strategies, policy documents, frameworks, guidelines and so on to guide Africa’s water sector and they are endorsed for sector practice with zero participation in authoring, editing or overall contributions by Africans including those from their organizations. 

Is this something you have observed on a regular basis in your work? Would you say GIZ is guilty of that as well or not? I wouldn't necessarily say so, I think they have a very partner-driven approach. They also employ a lot of "national staff" which would help, I would have thought. On the GIZ website it says "Our 20,726 employees, almost 70 per cent of whom are national personnel, work in around 120 countries." 

I realise you work for GIZ so you can't discuss everything freely on this forum, but perhaps you have some suggestions/comments in general terms, or you know of examples where GIZ tried explicitly not to fall into the trap of colonisation of WASH sector knowledge?

How about SuSanA? We have long lamented that we have too many people from the Global North in our SuSanA core group and not enough from the Global South... How about here on the forum? NB: we are currently analysing who posts on the forum in terms of gender and Global North/South, and have been thinking about how we can get more females and more people from the Global South to post. But that's not enough. I am sure there is more we can and should be doing.

There is a drive to be more open about failures so let's lead the way. 

Regards,
Elisabeth   
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
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