Close of six-year Enterprise in WASH project
Universal access to water and sanitation, without discrimination, has been recognised as a fundamental human right by the United Nations.
It is the foundation of one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDG6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
However, it’s a difficult thing to ensure.
Availability to water is a goal ISF has been working towards for two decades, across many different projects – one of the largest having concluded this month.
Across the developing world, governments are continually trying to improve the provision of water and sanitation to their citizens – a process which requires a significant investment of time and cost for the initial construction of infrastructure.
This process extends beyond the initial construction of water facilities. A growing number of countries are considering how enterprises can provide some of the long-term maintenance processes, and how to best approach the challenges involved with establishing a WASH enterprise.
June 2018 marked the end of the six-year Enterprise in WASH research project – an ISF-led project assessing the motivations and barriers of entry for micro, small and medium enterprises to establish WASH businesses, and supporting civil society organisations (CSOs), governments and other development actors in improving their engagement with WASH private and social enterprises, with a focus on the poor.
The research was funded through the Australian Government’s Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS) through the Australian Civil Society WASH Fund.
The original scope of the Enterprise in WASH research covered the period 2012 to 2016, focusing on the role of private and social enterprises in Indonesia, Vietnam and Timor-Leste, understanding the influences on private sector roles and the motivators, drivers and barriers for enterprises.
The second phase, beginning in 2016-2018, focused on key research gaps identified during the first phase which were deemed important for improved equitable, inclusive, sustainable services involving enterprises.
A group of women in Indonesia, discussing enterprises relating to the production of soap and sanitation products.
This involved engagement in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Vanuatu and Sierra Leone, on issues of gender and entrepreneurship, associations and other business support mechanisms, cost structures for private water enterprises, and rural water sustainability.
One of the key findings of Enterprise in WASH is that little has been documented about women’s involvement in WASH enterprises or their potential to lead successful WASH businesses. Working Papers developed over the lifetime of this project, examining the role of female entrepreneurship in Cambodia, Indonesia and Lao PDR, demonstrate the mixed experiences of empowerment as it relates to women, the complex negotiations and push-backs involved with this empowerment, and the benefits that can flow to women through social engagement and self-fulfilment, resulting from their experiences working within WASH enterprises.
These findings have already been used to inform Water for Women programs – a $10 million research grant has been established by DFAT in order to develop further knowledge and learning to improve the health, gender equality and well-being of Asian and Pacific communities through inclusive, sustainable WASH project and research.
- To test the long-term viability and sustainability of the private enterprise model of service provision by examining life-cycle cost structures for private water enterprises in Viet Nam
- To investigate gender and women’s empowerment in WASH enterprises in Cambodia and Indonesia
- To understand the potential role of intermediary level organisations (associations and/or business development support) in strengthening enterprise development and expand service delivery models in Cambodia and Indonesia.
ISF will continue to work with our partners to disseminate these outputs in meaningful and impactful ways, to maximise knowledge of and uptake of research findings and recommendations.