Monday, August 31, 2009

ITT and Water For People at World Water Week in Stockholm

ITT has been a longtime supporter of the World Water Week in Stockholm. ITT's Bjorn Von Euler has done a lot of writing this summer and you might want to skim his Final Thoughts from Stockholm World Water Week 2009.

To reiterate one point that Water For People’s Ned Breslin made at Stockholm: “Please hold poor people accountable.”

Donors, implementing nonprofits, and local communities *all* need to be held accountable for the sustainability of their water and sanitation programming, each as much as the other. Often the best way to ensure decentralized ownership and thereby local sustainability is by making sure that the local communities have a financial stake in the program. This often comes as an upfront cash investment in the capital costs of the work (e.g. the community itself pays for 5-25% of the cost of the borewell) and most if not all of the ongoing operating costs. This contribution will be managed by a village water committee or its equivalent in an urban or peri-urban environment. That committee will also be charged with ensuring that the benefits of the program are distributed equitably, including to those families and individuals who are too poor to pay anything at all.

ITT, Water For People, and many other groups (for profit and/or nonprofit - this distinction is often lost on me) are doing what they can to “work themselves out of a job” - the true goal of global development work. Accountability and sustainability (including financial sustainability) are two facets of development which need to pervade the safe drinking water sector.

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