On World Toilet Day we consider the role UK Aid Direct plays in addressing water and sanitation challenges

On World Toilet Day we spoke with Dr Mansoor Ali, sector specialist, about the role that UK Aid Direct plays in addressing the water and sanitation challenges. He had this to say:

“World Toilet Day is an important day to remind us that more than 2 billion people are still without adequate and safe sanitation. This means a large proportion of the global population is facing a very high risk to their health.

“The programme structure and the levels of funding (through UK Aid Direct) is excellent as it encourages all sizes of organisations to participate. It’s very exciting to see the interest of many small and local organisations. This is so important to the programme.”

On the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector overall, Dr Ali expressed concerns.

“As we all know, the sanitation sector needs a lot of attention and in the last five years, many governments, donors and organisations have paid attention, but we need to do more. We need to do things differently.

“The sector is facing several challenges. This includes the challenges of sustainability, poor use and maintenance of facilities and achieving behaviour change.

“In some cases, governments do not create enough space for other stakeholders to play a role.

“Fragile states, conflicts and disasters also demand additional attention. This means we need larger and more programmes like UK Aid Direct.”

We asked Mansoor what he thought of the quality of WASH applications received through UK Aid Direct, and if he had any suggestions on how these could be improved.

“The overall quality is very good, but applicants could strengthen further their approach to sustainability.

“The geographical areas identified could be more specific, supported with needs assessment, data and information.

“The organisations must say more about their previous learnings and their relationship with the relevant stakeholders.”

The Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) is currently open to applications, with the next review date Thursday 28 March 2019.

Dr Mansoor gave some words of advice to future UK Aid Direct applicants in general.

“We look forward to seeing good quality and well-connected applications, supported by relevant Theories of Change (when applicable), budgets, as well as monitoring and evaluation plans.”

Dr Mansoor Ali is a WASH sector specialist with more than 32 years of experience. He currently teaches, mentors, and conducts research and consulting assignments.