Inclusive, resilient and sustainable WASH outcomes

The International Water Centre and Griffith University

Research focus: Progressing inclusive, resilient and sustainable SDG 6 and WASH outcomes in the rural Pacific: approaches to enable effective community-based water management 

Locations: Solomon Islands and Fiji 

Partner CSOs: Plan International Australia, Live and Learn Solomon Islands, Habitat for Humanity Australia and Habitat for Humanity Fiji. 

Partner Universities: University of South Pacific; Solomon Islands National University 

Key Research Questions:

How can CSOs and governments better enable rural community-based-water-management (CBWM) in the Pacific to improve SDG6 outcomes?

Specifically:

(a) What can be learned from evaluating CBWM across diverse community contexts, especially about which community governance, engagement, and support features are most aligned with inclusive, integrated and resilient SDG6, including WASH, outcomes, then

(b) What approaches and tools, that are sensitive and responsive to local context and improve inclusion, can CSOs/Governments use, to strengthen these community engagement, support and governance features? 

Research Description:

Poor management of water sources and services is associated with inadequate WASH outcomes, negatively impacting on human health and wellbeing, and often affects women and girls disproportionally.  Across the Pacific, community-based-water-management (CBWM) remains the necessary model for rural water services due to the limited presence of government and private sector. 

However, global and Pacific evidence indicates that current approaches to enabling CBWM don’t lead to inclusive, integrated and resilient WASH outcomes, and that external support is necessary. Although Pacific governments appreciate support is required and invest in providing support for CBWM, there is a lack of evidence about what support is effective, including in different community contexts.

In partnership with CSOs, government and communities in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands, this research seeks to answer how CSOs and governments can better enable rural CBWM in the Pacific to improve SDG6 outcomes, including the resilience, inclusiveness and sustainability of WASH outcomes.

This will be answered by:

(i) first evaluating a variety of existing models of CBWM, and

(ii) secondly co-developing and piloting a toolkit of context-sensitive community engagement approaches to enable effective CBWM. 

The approach involves male and female local University and village ‘researchers’, strengthening local research capacity as well as promoting gender equity in academia and local WASH outcomes, and participation of women in local water governance. 

Key outputs include a toolkit and guide of community-engagement and other approaches that enabling actors, including CSOs and government  can use to support context-specific CBWM, and guidance on enabling CBWM that governments can include in their plans and guides. 

Currently, governments and NGOs know communities need support to manage their own water supply systems but don’t have any evidence of what works and why.  The practical tools of this research, codeveloped with academics and practitioners, will allow us improve practice by NGOs and Government, and increase the likelihood of sustainable and reliable water services in communities.

- Tom Rankin, WASH Program Manager, Plan International Australia

Photo: Community water mapping, Solomon Islands (Credit: International Water Centre and Griffith University)

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