An initiative to improve the uptake of technologies that will improve the storage and use of water is underway in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Uganda.The three-year project, which is named WASHTEC, hopes to make use of a technology assessment framework (TAF) that will be developed in 2011to assess water technologies available in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Uganda.“The TAF will be an integrated diagnostic and evaluating tool. As a whole the framework gives a picture of what elements are weakening sustainability for newly introduced technologies and an objective view of the suitability of each in given contexts.”
“It aims to answer more the question, should we promote this technology or approach, or why is this technology not proving sustainable or why is uptake so poor?” said Jo Smet, a senior programme officer for the (IRC) International Water and Sanitation Centre based in the Netherlands.The countries were selected for the project because “they have reasonably developed water and sanitation sectors and good sector frameworks,” Smet, a sanitary engineer who has 30 years experience working on water service and human waste managament in Africa and Asia, said.He said “stakeholders” in the three countries will select the appropriate technologies that will be assessed in order to improve water and sanitation.
“The project’s objective will support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by providing the essential intermediate step that can ensure new technologies that will be able to contribute substantially to reaching the target for water and sanitation but also play a greater part in poverty reduction,” said Smet, whose organisation initiated the project but has drawn in partners from other European and African organisations. Some of the African partners are Eugene Larbi, the managing director of Training, Research and Networking for Development(TREND) in Ghana and Cate Nimanya, the project manager for the Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS), a non-profit organisation in Uganda.
The TAF will also identify challenges that derail the uptake of water technologies in the three countries. “The TAF will involve households, communities, district and national stakeholders using these stakeholders’ feedback and results from the research. The TAF will provide a more general picture of sustainability and identified weaknesses which affect scaling up.” “It provides the research framework to test the sustainability, replicability and also why stakeholders do not respond by applying specifically chosen promising water and sanitation technologies,” Smet said.
A learning alliance comprising of “relevant” policymakers and scientists in each of the three countries will spearhead research for the project.“The learning alliance for WASHTEC will have inter-connected multi-stakeholder platforms at the national level and at the decentralised level where the actual introduction and uptake of technologies takes place.“It comprises all relevant sector stakeholders. This group will help steerthe research and by doing so will also be involved in adjusting approaches according the findings and adopting the technologies found to have the most potential,” the senior programme officer said.
Smet hopes the results from the project can be used in other African countries to alleviate water shortages and improve sanitation. The European Union (EU) will make two million Euros available to the consortium to implement the project, which was selected among the 26 winners of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Africa Call. The FP7 Africa Call is meant to find solutions to the challenges facing Africa.Smet also offered a word of advice to scientists who wish to submit a proposal for the FP7, the EU’s chief funding instrument for research. “Look for partners which you can trust in terms of research, learning and communication capacity, with whom you have been working together in smaller and larger projects,” he said.
Poverty reduction through water research network.- Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu