USAID Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene Highlights from 2020

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During a tumultuous 2020 that witnessed the emergence of the most deadly pandemic to sweep the globe in more than 100 years, USAID and partners have proven flexible and resilient in delivering safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to the world’s most underserved and at-risk populations. …


In one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, USAID and partners are helping create more resilient communities by preparing them to stay one step ahead of the next drought.

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Sunset over the rolling countryside of Jordan, among the most water-scarce countries on Earth. Photo credit: Mariusz Kluzniak

The Middle East and North Africa are among the most water-stressed regions on the entire planet. Water availability — or lack thereof — has shaped societies here in profound ways for thousands of years. Today water access remains an existential issue for many countries across this semi-arid and arid region, especially as they navigate the new uncertainties of a changing climate.

What looms largest in the minds of water resource managers is a chronic threat: drought. As an already parched region with relatively low water storage capacity, even modest downturns in water availability can result in outright water scarcity, meaning there is insufficient water physically available to meet the needs of the human population and the economy. More frequent and severe droughts associated with climate change are expected to intensify stress on all aspects of economic activity and daily life in the coming years and decades, even threatening food insecurity and social unrest in cases of extreme drought. …


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Events such as road shows and business-to-business meetings provide a chance to demonstrate WASH products to potential distributors, retailers, and customers down the supply chain. Photo credit: Hassan Litama

Businesses and social enterprises are providing essential, low-cost water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) products in rural and peri-urban areas of Tanzania. Consumers not only need access to appropriate household latrines, but they also need trained professionals to install them in their communities. It seems simple enough, however, sanitation product companies face numerous barriers that prevent them from expanding into these markets — one of them is the high cost of creating and managing distribution networks.

To address this issue, USAID/Tanzania’s Water Resources Integration Development Initiative (WARIDI) began working with LIXIL, the maker of SATO (Safe Toilet) products, to hold marketing and supply chain development events connecting them with potential distribution partners down the supply chain. Tanzania’s National Sanitation Campaign has been instrumental in driving demand for improved latrines across the country, and this partnership was intended to reduce transaction costs and encourage LIXIL’s expansion into underserved areas. …


A small family-owned business becomes a leading sanitation service provider in Senegal.

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Senegal’s only female emptier assists with a fecal sludge emptying operation in a fecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP). Photo credit: WASH-FIN

Ibra Sow is the president of VICAS, a successful sanitation service provider (SSP) in Senegal. Ibra began his career in sanitation working as an apprentice driver in his father’s family-owned sanitation business. He went on to create VICAS in 2000, with the aim of providing specialized services for onsite and offsite sanitation, road maintenance, and industrial cleaning in Dakar, the country’s capital. Today, VICAS hasan annual revenue of approximately $4.5 …


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USAID’s partnership with LIXIL formalizes work already happening in the sanitation marketplace in half a dozen African countries where women are trained as sales agents and “demand activators” for affordable latrine products, such as the blue plastic SATO Pan. Photo credit: Dorothy Nabatanzi

Despite the demonstrated health, economic, social, and environmental benefits that sanitation improvements provide, governments consistently underfund and place a low priority on sanitation. Though the challenges differ in urban and rural areas, the shortage of sanitation facilities and services is acute, and the solutions are complex. Ensuring more households have a toilet is not enough. At the current rate of progress, universal access to safely managed sanitation will not become a reality until the 22nd century, well beyond the global goal of 2030. …


A Clean Riverbed is Changing the Lives of Turkmen Farmers

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“When there are floods, we have to build barriers to keep our land safe,” says Ataev Maksat, a 35-year old farmer from Saryyazy, a village in Mary, Turkmenistan. He is a third generation farmer, growing wheat and cotton on his ancestral land. He also raises livestock and tends to his household vegetable garden — all of which relies on the Murghab, a transboundary river that flows from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan.

The Murghab riverbed hasn’t been dredged in a long time. Over the past three decades, the riverbed has risen by nearly three meters. Additionally, the risk of flooding was exacerbated by changes in river flow due to climate change. …


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A women washes her hands with a Generation One handwashing station in Benin. Photo credit: Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD)

Every Oct. 15, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated around the world to increase awareness and understanding of the vital importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent the spread of illness and save lives. Join USAID and its partners in celebrating this year as we highlight the elevated importance of this hygiene behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Handwashing with soap and water is a key prevention strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. …


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USAID provided support to develop a water treatment system at Massara Village in Asuit Governorate. Photo credit: USAID/Egypt

Engineer Atef Abdel Sayed is proud of his work to bring clean water and sanitation services to 25 million people in Egypt. “We have achieved much more than just construction,” says the 2020 USAID Water Warrior award winner.

Access to clean water and sanitation services is an ever-present challenge for Egyptians. While 97 percent of the population has access to potable water, consistent quality is a major concern, particularly in the rural areas that depend on groundwater wells. With just 25 percent of rural residents connected to sewer lines, groundwater contamination from leaky septic tanks is a constant threat.

Since 1978, USAID has invested more than $3.5 billion in water and sanitation services for more than 25 million Egyptians. One of the most recent examples is the Egypt Utilities Management program (EUM). The $440 million EUM program focused on water-related infrastructure projects, including more than 30 water and wastewater facilities. The program worked in two other key areas — sectoral reform at the national level and institutional development of the water and sanitation sector. “Early on, Egypt realized they can’t manage the facilities as a centralized governmental authority,” says Sayed, water, sanitation, and hygiene lead for USAID/Egypt. “Through EUM, USAID and the Egyptian Government started discussing a complete national reform of the water and wastewater…


Global Waters In Focus

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Data technicians in the Manica Province of Mozambique at a training to learn how to use the new m-SINAS tablets for mobile data collection. Photo credit: IWED Mozambique/ENGIRDO

In Focus, part of the USAID Center for Water’s Global Water Stories, is an occasional series that takes a broader and more technical look at USAID water activities that have been in place for some time to share approaches, results, and lessons learned.

Overview

Locations: Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania

Duration: 2016-2020

Partners: Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy and Oromia Water and Energy Resource Development Bureau (Ethiopia); Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (Ghana); Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (Madagascar); National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation (Mozambique); Directorate of Sanitation (Senegal); and Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children…


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A water service provider marketer gets customer feedback from a residential caretaker. Photo credit: Rose Odengo, WASH-FIN

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is the first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19. Safe WASH practices can help stop human-to-human transfer of the virus at the household- and community-level. Recognizing the crucial role of WASH services during a pandemic, national and county governments, especially in low- and middle-income countries, have deemed WASH as essential services and have directed water utilities to ensure uninterrupted supply to all consumers, regardless of their ability to pay. While important for public health, this directive can compromise the financial health of utilities over the long-term.

Averting Financial Crisis for Water Utilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, water utilities are caught in a perfect storm of declining revenue coupled with rising costs. In Kenya, the government’s directive to water service providers (WSPs) includes the following requirements: water should be provided for free in informal settlements and public places, disconnected customers should be reconnected, and no disconnections for nonpayment of bills should be carried out during the pandemic. In addition, WSPs also have to comply with social distancing guidelines and use personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures. While these directives serve important public health needs, they also amplify the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on water utilities. WSPs, which rely on fees from customer tariffs, new connections, and reconnections to cover their operations and maintenance costs, stand to incur huge losses in revenue from these directives. This sharp decline in revenue collection, combined with the cost of COVID-19–related compliance, increases the financial stress on utilities. …

About

USAID Water Team

USAID and its partners improve access to clean water and safe sanitation to create a healthier and more #WaterSecureWorld. For more, visit Globalwaters.org.

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