World Water Week 2017

World Water Week (August 27th – September 1st) is upon us again. For the next week, experts from the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) world are coming together in Stockholm, Sweden to exchange views, experiences, and practices regarding water-related challenges in order to positively impact the world’s poverty reduction, environment, economic, and health agendas.

Of the event’s countless dialogs, OHorizons -as an organization working diligently to scale our international BioSand Filter projects - is particularly interested in the following discussions: The State of the Evidence Base for WASH Microfinance, Monitoring Water Quality At Scale, Searching for Universal Sustainability Metrics for Rural Water Services, and Reaching Scale with Equity: Innovations and Early Learnings in Collective Behavioral Change Programs for Sanitation and Hygiene Projects.

Below we’ll share more about these discussion topics, which organizations are leading them, and why we’re excited to learn more.

The State of the Evidence Base for WASH Microfinance

Sunday August 27th | 11-12.30 Central European Time (5-6:30am ET) will host this panel discussion on the current state of evidence for WASH microfinance. Topics to be discussed include: what the current approach to WASH microfinance looks like, how it could/should be altered, and what gaps need to be filled in order to help it scale.

We’re a lean and dynamic organization, so we’ll be listening closely to hear what exerts within the realm of WASH microfinance are saying. We’re open to pivoting in whatever direction is necessary to make our projects scaleable and sustainable, including exploring the usage of microfinance to seed local social entrepreneurs who want to bring our biosand filters to their communities.

From Data to Decision: Monitoring Water Quality at Scale

Tuesday August 29th | 11-12.30 Central European Time (5-6:30am ET)

At this interactive session, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, and Akvo will share their joint experiences of monitoring water quality and discuss the opportunities of new technologies and innovations in the field of data collection, water quality testing, and real time monitoring of the SDGs.

By now we’re guessing you know a fair amount about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. (If not, don’t worry, you can get up to speed with the basics here.)

In order to meet these lofty “Global Goals” it’s pretty clear that rapid, innovative, and systematic approaches to data collection as well as overarching monitoring structures are required. Data will play a sizable role in not only measuring the world’s success at ending the water crisis, but also in our ability to get there. For example, how we: compare different implementation methods for achieving results, identify where resources should be allocated to make impact, and make the WASH case for advocacy and support from both the private and governmental sectors.

We’re excited to learn about the latest trends and opportunities within this important facet of global development.

SDG6: Searching for Universal Sustainability Metrics for Rural Water Services

Wednesday August 30th | 16-17.30 Central European Time (10-11:30am ET)

It’s estimated that approximately 40 percent of water systems in developing countries become inoperable after five years. That’s not only a waste of money, time, and resources, but it means there are a lot of people who should have safe drinking water, but don’t.

Why such a high failure rate? Most projects, especially in rural areas of developing countries, are done with little to no input from the local community, which means the people actually using the water systems know little to nothing about the technology, how it actually works, and most importantly how it can be maintained and fixed when it breaks. It’s a major flaw, which OHorizons is mitigating through our locally run BioSand Filter Projects.  

This session being lead by IRC (International Water and Sanitation Centre) and Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) will present evolving concepts on metrics of performance and sustainability of rural water services and discuss which core indicators of sustainability should used across different country settings.

Since we see this as a strength of our approach, we’ll be watching closely to see what ideas are proposed, with the possibility of implementing any core-indicators that are agreed upon, which we may not currently be collecting.  

Scale with Equity: Innovations and Early Learnings in Collective Behavioral Change Programs for Sanitation and Hygiene Projects

Wednesday August 30th | 17:30-19 Central European Time  (11:30am-1pm ET)

Speakers for this program led by the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) will be covering innovations in collective behavioral change programs for sanitation and hygiene projects and how to achieve them through practical means as direct implementers.

We aren’t aware of the exact concepts that will be presented, but of course we’re interested in learning about cutting-edge ways to create user buy-in through practical means. We hope to be able to integrate a “Low-Tech, High-Thinking” concept or two into our own WASH toolkit, since effective adoption of Sanitation and Hygiene are essential to seeing the positive health impacts of our safe drinking water projects.

These are the discussions we’re most excited about, but like we said, there’s countless more topics being covered. If you’re interested in seeing a schedule of the talks that will be live streamed at World Water Week, use this link.

Here’s to a week of productive dialog.

The OHorizons Team