The International Water Centre and Griffith University

Research focus: Engaging corporate actors for inclusive WASH services in workplaces and host communities

Locations: Indonesia and Fiji

Research Theme: Gender and social inclusion and WASH

Partners: University of the South Pacific (Fiji), The University of Udayana (Indonesia), Bandung Technical University (Indonesia)

Other Partners: Alliance for Water Stewardship, UNICEF, Pacific Institute, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Live & Learn, Plan International, Government of Indonesia, Bappenas, Government of Fiji, Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Key Research Questions:

(i)    Is there a compelling business case for GSI WASH-at-work?

(ii)   Is there evidence that supports the adoption of tools to enable improved WASH-at-work, improved WASH behaviours in employee homes, and to reduce negative impacts throughout the community?

(iii)  What are the barriers and opportunities to engaging governments and CSOs to scale-up WASH in the workplace?

Research Description:

SDG 6 calls for “universal” access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. People spend half their waking lives at work, therefore access to WASH in the workplace is fundamental to the achievement of SDG 6. As 1.8 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 4.1 billion are without access to adequate sanitation, there is an established, direct cost that impacts business through increased absenteeism and decreased productivity due to illness and cultural practices.

Investment in WASH is often a lower priority to governments, community and the private sector. Relative to other forms of development WASH benefits are more indirect and are felt over a longer period, for example the benefits of improved WASH are felt by the health and education sectors over many years and decades.

There are programs to support increased WASH access in the workplace, however low uptake suggests that localised understanding of the drivers and interwoven benefits of WASH access to businesses and society in general are required. The private sector has called for a clear articulation of the business case for investment in WASH and guidance on the pathways to adopt improved practice,

In this project we will work with tourism businesses to understand the motivators, benefits and pathways for supporting improved consideration of i) inclusive WASH in the workspace and ii) over the fence impacts of poor WASH practices on support communities.

“This exciting, multi-faceted project has the potential to provide gender equitable and socially inclusive guides, anchored in field research and adapted to specific contexts, to companies working in the tourism sector and CSOs providing support for WaSH programs.”

Professor Helen Johnson, IWWS Chief Investigator, International WaterCentre

We expect that through this project we will increase pathways for private sector investment in GSI WASH. We will prioritise working with the tourism industry due current scale and projected future growth of Tourism sector in both partner countries. Tourism operators have a large potential to provide inclusive safe WASH workspaces and minimise impact on water resources.  By clearly articulating lessons from SE Asia and the Pacific, increasing opportunities for collaboration between CSOs, government and the private sector, and creating several tools assisting in increasing GSI WASH, we will strengthen engagement with the private sector driving greater investment. The outcomes will collectively contribute to sustainable development and improved health and wellbeing in both countries.

“The research project is an imaginative synthesis of gender equality and social inclusion practices with the fundamentals of integrated water management, water stewardship, and water, sanitation and hygiene theories. Their application to case studies to be drawn from field research with the commercial sector across two countries will offer an innovative and valuable range of learnings.” 

Professor Jim McKay, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Queensland

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University of South Pacific
Bandung Technical University
The University of Udayana

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