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.

 

World Water Week 2018 and UK Aid Direct grant holders

As many of our grant holders will know, this week is World Water Week, an annual event that brings together practitioners, innovators, and professionals from a variety of sectors, to exchange ideas, network, and to develop solutions to water-related challenges.

The theme this year is ‘water, ecosystems and human development’, and it is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden until 31 August.

For every funding round UK Aid Direct receives a number of applications to support water-specific projects (WASH) and we work closely with partners the Water, Engineering and Development Centre of Loughborough University (WEDC), to select the strongest of these.

Pump Aid is an Impact grant holder working with some of the poorest and hard to reach communities in Malawi to provide safe water and toilets.

Pump Aid irrigation pump and crops

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals set ambitious targets for future development but, in our drive to increase economic development and human resilience, it is easy to overlook the effect such actions have on the environment and vital ecosystems. Pump Aid’s (DFID-funded) self-supply programme seeks to address both these objectives by helping rural populations increase their access to water and improve their efficient use of it.

“For example, our rope-and-washer pumps are manufactured close to the point of sale (reducing the need for polluting transport), their manufacturers use locally sourced and, wherever possible, locally recycled materials minimising the use of scarce resources…

“Securing the engagement and commitment of the whole community is vital for the delivery of economic development in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly ways and the commitment of Pump Aid’s entrepreneurs to the roll-out of this programme is a tremendous endorsement of Pump’s Aid work and of the visionary approach taken by DFID when they agreed to fund the original pilot.”

– Michael Chuter, Chief Executive, Pump Aid

Community Partnership grant holders WellFound believe that clean water not only tackles direct issues such as water-related diseases but it also provides a solid base for communities to grow and take further steps to improve their daily lives.

“We have heard recently that in the village of Paili where WellFound has been working, their new well has become a community hub where men, women and children happily gather to fetch water for drinking, washing and cooking, whilst catching up with their neighbours and friends… With women and children spending less time each day fetching water, many more are able to attend school and gain an education which will help themselves and their families in the future.”

Women working to pump water from their new community well built by WellFound

For new Community Partnership grant holders, Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), although water is not the primary focus of the menstrual hygiene project they are delivering in Uganda with partners Faith in Water, a lack of water is proving to be a big challenge for them. Especially in the rural schools they are working with.

“Only 3 of the 12 Christian rural schools have a fully functioning water source within the school compound and for 3 of them the nearest water source is over 1km away. One of the Muslim schools, in a poor urban area near Kampala, had no water at all within 2.5km.

“There were hand washing facilities in just 4 of the schools and in 2 of them this consisted of a single jerry can.

“Dignity for Girls: Engaging faith groups in Uganda on menstrual health is providing rainwater harvesting tanks in 9 of the schools and repairing existing rainwater harvesting tanks in others. We are also building hand washing facilities in all the schools.”

– Susie Weldon, Faith in Water

Learn more about water-related challenges and the sustainable innovative solutions being discussed at World Water Week 2018 by

  • tuning in to the live-streamed events taking place throughout the week (or watch them after the event has happened) ; view a full programme here and
  •  follow #WWWeek and #Live on Twitter

Thank you to grant holders Pump Aid, WellFound and Alliance of Religions and Conservation for their comments on the use of water in their projects.

Children at a primary school, in Hoima District, Uganda, test out their new hand washing facility, installed with the UK Aid Direct Dignity for Girls project from ARC.