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  • Elise Jabaji

Aguaconsult Newsletter Summer 2021

Welcome to the Summer 2021 Aguaconsult Newsletter

Enabling Policy and Governance to Capitalise on Technology and Achieve the SDGs. Globally, living conditions are highly uneven. The SDGs aim to close this gap by alleviating poverty, hunger, and inequality in access to education, water, sanitation, and other basic needs. In the meantime, we are all facing the acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the much greater threat of climate change, which is no longer somewhere beyond the horizon but is happening right here and now, endangering the lives of millions of people all over the world. While the SDGs have become a central part of development planning, how achievable are they under current approaches?


My name is Elise Jabagi. I recently joined Aguaconsult and am this newsletter’s guest editor! As a Civil Engineer, my work mainly entails adapting technologies to human and environmental needs. However, in reality, political, social and economic processes are the core drivers of change. Economic development, technological innovation, and policy shifts are all significant factors influencing our progress in water and sanitation. Success requires combining insights from a range of disciplines for effective solutions. So, what would it be like if we could combine technical analysis with social science and policy analysis to address those problems?


In this newsletter, I summarise some of Aguaconsult's work that is contributing to more sustainable services and helping to address pressing issues such as climate change and COVID-19 through combining technological insights with policy and governance developments. Each example involves technologies in one form or another, but we endeavour to highlight and provide solutions to non-engineering processes such as policy and regulatory reforms and financing services. Please enjoy reading the rest of our newsletter!



Sustainable Sanitation - A New District Road Map from Agenda for Change. Access to sustainable sanitation services requires strategic planning to identify intended outcomes results, as well as major steps required to achieve them. Yet, such a strategy can only be meaningful if it is based on a systematic understanding of suitable sanitation technologies and their related costs. Developing and implementing such a plan should take a flexible approach that employs various tools to assess costs and carry out inventories resulting in better investment decisions and national-level policy changes. Aguaconsult and Water for people, both members of Agenda for Change, produced the new district level roadmap for universal access to sustainable sanitation services presenting the step-by-step process of developing a WASH district roadmap focusing on sanitation service delivery.

Sanitation in Fragile Contexts - Best Practices in Reaching the Last Mile. The factors affecting the efficient and effective use of sanitation technologies are highly diverse and applying one-size fits all approaches has been proven not to work. Aguaconsult collaborated with Bluechain Consulting to carry out desk-based research on Improving Rural Sanitation in Challenging Contexts on behalf of the  Sanitation Learning Hub with the Institute of Development Studies, UNICEF and WaterAid.  This desk review collated findings across five broad ‘categories’ of challenges, including poverty and social marginalisation; social beliefs; tough physical environments; lifestyles and livelihoods and fragile contexts. The research recommendations amongst others, include building the evidence base to identify who the ‘last mile’ is, quantify these groups and understand the barriers they face in adopting improved sanitation.

Sanitation in the African Union - Policy Guidelines for AMCOW . Aguaconsult was part of the development of the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines, an AMCOW response to multiple requests for policy development assistance from member countries of the African Union. It provides guidance that can be applied and adapted at the country level for reviewing, revising, and enhancing existing sanitation policies. Goufrane Mansour was the lead drafter for policies related to funding and financing sanitation as well as guidelines for preparing policy implementation strategies.

Regulating Lusaka’s Urban Sanitation Sub-Sector - A Study on Addressing Integrity Failures for Water Integrity Network. Corruption and integrity failures directly and indirectly impact WASH service provision. These can occur in many ways, including undermining decision-making and causing inequitable service delivery as well as reducing available financial resources and the performance of service providers. Already vulnerable or marginalised groups are usually the worst affected. Aguaconsult’s Bill Twyman conducted a study in collaboration with Ison Simbeye for the Water Integrity Network to detail the regulatory framework for urban sanitation in Lusaka and the instances of corruption and other integrity failures in the sub-sector. Several recommendations are detailed for further strengthening urban sanitation regulation in Lusaka, and the report is helping to inform the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021.

Keep a lookout for the upcoming publication!

Water and Sanitation Status and Future Direction - Management Arrangements across Southern Africa. When properly implemented, professionalised management arrangements for water supply and onsite sanitation provide many key benefits. These span critical aspects such as increased managerial capacity and technical expertise, economies of scale for specialised technical functions, and improved monitoring and regulation. Aguaconsult conducted a study for WaterAid detailing the different management arrangements in rural and small-town contexts across the Southern Africa Region and their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Based on these findings, recommendations were developed to inform the upscaling and professionalisation of management arrangements to increase the sustainability of water supply and sanitation service provision.

Keep a lookout for the upcoming publication!



Sanitation Services Quality Check - A Synthesis of WSUP-Led Research. Can shared toilet facilities provide quality sanitation? What criteria do planners need to think about when seeking quality sanitation? Yes, sanitation is known to have positive health outcomes, but what specific systems provide the most health benefits, especially in low-income areas? In 2017-2020, WSUP commissioned a number of research projects in Ghana, Bangladesh and Kenya to answer some of these questions. Aguaconsult supported WSUP bring together key findings from the research programme, which can be accessed here.

Water Operator Partnerships  - A Mid-Term Evaluation of the WaterWorX Global Programme. Conducted in association with IRC, this mid-term evaluation looked at the performance of 20 Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) worldwide. These WOPs were designed and implemented as part the WaterWorX programme, a unique partnership between Dutch utilities and the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs. WOPs under the programme combine technical assistance for utility performance improvements (e.g. NRW reduction, energy efficiency, water quality improvements) and access to repayable finance, small investments in water services improvements as well as support for addressing climate change risks. The evaluation summary report is available upon request.



Resilience of Sanitation and Hygiene Ventures to COVID-19 - A Short Paper for Grand Challenges Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted sanitation and hygiene ventures. Aguaconsult investigated the effects of this on 11 sanitation and hygiene ventures supported by Grand Challenges Canada in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In this short paper, Aguaconsult details these effects and the response of the ventures. Lessons for designing, constructing, and managing resilient assets and services are specified, and recommendations for funding sanitation and hygiene ventures outlined.

Climate Resilient Urban Sanitation -  A Report for GIZ and the Resilient Cities Network. Climatic changes are already profoundly impacting urban sanitation services and technologies; however, sanitation remains a largely unrepresented topic in the global climate change agenda.

This research project supported by the German development agency, GIZ and the Resilient Cities Network to improve the understanding of interlinkages between climate change and urban sanitation systems and technologies and the critical link with urban resilience.

The study included assessing the impact of climate change on urban sanitation, detailing adaptation responses in four case study cities (Cape Town, Chennai, Lusaka, Santa Cruz), and developing a framework for climate resilient urban sanitation and an assessment tool for urban sanitation resilience.



A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR. We are excited to welcome Elise to the team and are looking forward to her new energy and thinking to drive us forward, particularly in areas such as solid waste management and environmental engineering. Some of you may have already had interactions with Elise, but if not please feel free to reach out and introduce yourselves to her. Time continues to pass and it is now not long until our old colleague and friend, Julia Boulenouar will return from maternity leave (in September) after adding a second daughter to her family and a partner in crime for her big sister! By the same token, we are evolving our relationship with Georges Mikhael who be leaving us, but transition to an Aguaconsult Associate and continue with us on his work on urban sanitation projects and related business modelling.

Over the past year we have had the pleasure and good fortune to be working with Julia from the graphic design firm  31%Wool and look forward to continued collaboration in 2021 and beyond. Julia was instrumental in producing our new company brochure which you can download here.


We have a full pipeline of work and are growing! If you are a mid to senior level expert in WASH with plenty of experience in issues relating to climate resilience or solid waste, we would love to hear from you. Please send an email with your CV to Melissa.

Finally, in spite of the impacts of COVID-19, we continue to work with our range of partners, both individuals, as well as organisations from around the world and across the public, private and third sectors. We remain grateful for their cooperation, knowledge and partnership and the insights and value they bring to our work. The pandemic has served to accelerate this form of collaborative working across the world and time zones. We are all in this together and this collaboration only succeeds when it is built on years of building trust and understanding.


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