4 Nov, 2014 in
Recently I was part of the panel discussion on “Addressing Inequalities in WASH” at the University of North Carolina’s Water and Health Conference, and felt it was unique in the way it engaged national level decision-makers, international and local observers, and donors to discuss the latest data on the topic. The individual experiences of each panelist brought unique and extremely relevant views to a topic that, by its nature, can only gain from diversity.
In my years of experience in the WASH sector in Kenya - in particular in my recent position as CEO of the country’s Water Service Trust Fund - I find there are challenges in working in (and with) the government that other practitioners outside my country share, and who could benefit from what I’ve learned.
With this is mind, here are my top nine best practices on addressing inequalities in WASH, and five very concrete recommendations:
- Political interference: I challenge politicians with information that is directly relevant to the areas they represent.
- Cost of water: I provide comparisons on the inequalities on cost: one side of the road pays 25Cts while the other pays 20 shillings.
- Access to water and sanitation: The economic cost of lack of access to water and sanitation can be very well indicated by the growth of the funeral homes in Kenya: it’s one of the country’s fastest growing businesses.
- Lack of pro-poor strategies & focus on the marginalized: The poor are marginalized in education, health, roads and many other amenities. The best practice is to create an institution that focuses on providing services to the marginalized..
- Coordination of development partners: Development partners and non-State actors have a lot of resources that need to be focused. In most cases, what NGOs do is not captured since they don’t give reports to government.
- Capacity building of communities to understand their rights: Many politicians and decision-makers assume that the communities know their rights. Make awareness part of the development programs.
- Poor planning in informal settlements: This is affecting the provision of water and sanitation, urban planning is in another Ministry, we work in silos so the people continue to suffer.
- High population rates: Kenya population is increasing at 2.9% a year. We must prioritize sustainability, because when projects break down and are not repaired, it reduces access dramatically.
- Poor data, information and reporting: Inadequate information systems means inconsistency in reporting.
- Require effective and efficient advocacy at the highest levels of Government for a paradigm shift.
- Public Finance is “Sexy”. Argue that the poor also make contributions and pay tax to the Government and need to be prioritized.
- NGOs are perceived to fill the gap, and should regularly report to the Government and show how the gap is closing. It could be Kenya has meet the MDGs but we don’t have the data
- Strategies must be developed that enhance Public Finance.
- Don’t ignore politicians who share the financial cake of the country.
Watch the recording of the panel discussion
Photo - from left to right: Barbara Evans, Associate Professor of Water, Sanitation and Health, teaching, research and practice in sanitation, water and hygiene in the global south ; Ambassador Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative at Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations ; Patrick Ulele Chikoti is an Executive Director at Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) ; Brian Arbogast, Director of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ; Jacqueline Musyoki, CEO, Water Services Trust Fund, Kenya ; Inga Winkler , Legal Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation