Civil Society Engagement with the Private Sector for Inclusive WASH: Insights from Water for Women

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This learning brief brings together the knowledge, experience and insights of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector civil society organisations (CSOs) in engaging with private sector actors in South Asia and South East Asia to foster gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI), sustainability of WASH programs, and critical thinking.

It covers:

  • the various roles of the private sector in WASH service delivery systems
  • key considerations for CSOs when partnering with private sector actors
  • benefits, challenges and strategies of applying a GEDSI lens
  • ways to ensure the sustainability of private sector engagement
  • recommendations for future programming and investment.


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Civil Society Engagement with the Private Sector for Inclusive WASH: Insights from Water for Women

Civil society organisations in the WASH sector have collaborated with private sector actors for decades and in diverse ways. They have built plumbing components, developed and managed piped water systems, delivered latrine pit-emptying services, and fulfilled operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts. With the growing focus on inclusive WASH to ensure that no one is left behind, it is timely to take stock of how CSOs are engaging with the private sector to make WASH access and systems inclusive and equitable.


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Civil Society Engagement with the Private Sector for Inclusive WASH: Reading list

As part of Water for Women’s Learning Agenda, the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures
(UTS-ISF) and other Fund partners undertook a collaborative online learning initiative to better understand how CSOs and
other WASH program implementers can engage with the private sector to improve inclusive WASH services and systems.

The learning initiative involved engagement through various remote
modalities. Participants were supported with this reading list, which included key resources related to private sector engagement in inclusive and sustainable WASH and accompanies the above learning brief.


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Water for Women acknowledges Melita Grant and Avni Kumar of the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS-ISF) for their leadership of this collaborative Learning Agenda initiative and the development and collation of this learning brief.

The following partners and co-partners made extensive contributions to this initiative, throughout all phases: iDE; SHE Investments Cambodia, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), RTI International (RTI), Thrive Networks/East Meets West (Thrive/EMW), and UTS-ISF. We also recognise their leadership and support for engaging the private sector for inclusive WASH.

Special thanks also to the advisory group for this Learning Agenda initiative: Rana Abdel-Sattar (iDE Cambodia), Le Huong, Outhikone Souphome In and Gabrielle Halcrow (SNV), Dr Lien Pham, Kim Hor and IV Bunthoeun (Thrive/EMW), Nutan Zarapkar (RTI) and Melita Grant and Avni Kumar (UTS-ISF). Thanks also to the Water for Women Fund Coordinator team, who played a substantial role in the development of the initiative and this report: Kate Orr, Amanda Jupp, Alison Baker, Jose Mott, Bianca Nelson Vatnsdal and Mia Cusack.

This work was supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Citation: Water for Women. (2022). Civil society engagement with the private sector for inclusive WASH: Insights from Water for Women.

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