DIV’s WASH for Life Aims to Test Promising Solutions & Scale Proven Successes in Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene

USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have launched a new $17 million program to support innovative approaches in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene sector. The partnership will be implemented through USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program, which will identify, test, and transition to scale promising approaches to achieving cost-effective, sustainable, and scalable water, sanitation, and health services in developing countries.

Given that diarrhea alone kills nearly 2 million people worldwide each year, of which 1.5 million are children, WASH for Life will identify and rigorously test new WASH technologies and delivery models, and then scale and replicate those that are proven successful. Proposals from the private sector, academics, and NGOs will compete in periodic funding rounds. Although projects addressing problems in any WASH area or any country may apply, WASH for Life is particularly interested in interventions that address issues in the sanitation and hygiene sectors in particular, target beneficiaries earning under $2 a day, and operate in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya and/or Nigeria.

Ecuador: Sustainable Forests and Coasts

Since its inception in 2009, the USAID Sustainable Forests and Coasts project seeks to conserve the remnants of high biodiversity areas along the Ecuadoran coast, especially in protected areas, by providing a series of incentives to rural communities, which include technical assistance, facilitating market access/linkages, and training in best practices, among others. The program works to protect endangered species and rainforests that are at risk because of insufficient capacity to manage natural resources, loss of habitats due to expanding agriculture and livestock, lack of economic opportunities, and effects of climate change.

Environmental management plans are now in place to address environmental threats and local decision makers have come together to work toward common goals to protect watersheds and mangroves. Decision makers and community stakeholders have participated in developing a proposal of over 20 climate change adaptation measures for two protected areas to help mitigate the effects of climate change on their community, including strengthening waste management and reforestation activities that help restore damaged river banks. As a result of these successful practices, watershed and mangrove management goals developed with communities are currently being incorporated in multiple cities and communities in Ecuador.

Ghana: Water Access, Sanitation, & Hygiene for Urban Poor (WASH-UP)

WASH-UP is an urban-focused program seeking to provide poor communities with access to affordable and sustainable drinking water, improve sanitation in these communities, and educate school children on good hygiene behaviors. WASH-UP also promotes innovative economic enterprises in the areas of water and sanitation, while strengthening local governance for water supply.

Currently the program is working in five dense, urban communities to create communal water storage facilities, devise new ways of transporting water from a central hub to individual households, and bring sanitary latrine practices to schools and the public. WASH clubs have been established in all mapped-out schools and members use their knowledge and skills to set up workshops for peers. Through these continuing projects, WASH-UP continues to improve community sanitation, hygiene, and water access.

Southern Africa: SAREP

The Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) is a follow-up to the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) project and continues its ecosystem-based, economic development work in the Okavango River Basin. The program’s three major objectives are to expand biodiversity conservation, increase access to clean and safe water supply and sanitation, and to improve the livelihoods of people in the basin. SAREP also promotes community-based natural resources management to bring awareness to local governance and ecosystem services in the basin.

Still in its early stages, SAREP has moved rapidly to introduce an Integrated Water Quality Management model in the Namibian portion of the basin that has already resulted in significant changes in water use behavior, from the community level to a regional government level. The model involves stakeholders in the management of their own water use and manages potential contamination risks in the river basin. Currently, the Okavango Basin Management Committee is looking to approach their counterparts across the river in Angola to promote the model there and share their successes in improving water quality, water demand management, and water allocation planning.

Last updated: September 25, 2013

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