Reviewing progress in small towns

Grants Manager Anna McNamara recently visited Nepal to see how much WaterAid’s report – Taking a wider view – had affected our work in small towns.


6 Nov 2014

WaterAid recently piloted a new approach to monitoring and evaluating our work, including staff from across the organisation. As part of this initiative, I was invited to visit our country programme in Nepal, with a focus on small towns.

Access to safe water for every household in Gadighat Sukumari Tole, Ward 6, Itahari Projects in small towns need a distinct approach from those in cities and rural areas. Small towns have a mixture of characteristics – for example, they might have economic links to agriculture, like many rural areas, but might be rapidly changing as populations increase and diversify, like many cities.

Left: Access to safe water for every household in Gadighat Sukumari Tole, Ward 6, Itahari. Credit: WaterAid

Taking a wider view?

Three years before my visit, WaterAid and Building Partnerships for Development (BPD) produced a report called Taking a wider view, which looked at the differences between delivering services to small towns compared with cities and rural areas. The report aimed to identify promising approaches and create a framework to help those planning water and sanitation services in small towns to make appropriate financial, technical and management decisions.

The research I was involved in aimed to follow up the implementation of this report in four of WaterAid’s country programmes: Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Uganda. We wanted to find out:

  1. How the report had informed the design and delivery of our small town programmes in these countries.
  2. What these country programmes have been doing in small towns – looking specifically at how they identify locations, design and deliver programmes, and what their impact is.
  3. How far the small town programmes were aligned to the minimum standards of WaterAid’s Urban framework.

Useful learning

Right: Rita is from Ward 12 in Kamalamai, and is a community health volunteer. Credit: WaterAid

Rita is from Ward 12 in Kamalamai, and is a community health volunteerWe interviewed various groups of people (including service users, community health volunteers, community leaders and local government staff), adapting our questions to ensure they were relevant, and easy to understand and translate. We were well received and people were very helpful, which showed that our partner CIUD was clearly very well thought of by the communities.

We gathered as much information as possible, and came back to the UK with some really useful insights. The research will help WaterAid to take stock of our programmatic work in small towns, and analyse what is working well and where the main challenges exist. Our Programme Support Unit will now have a more detailed understanding of how best to support our country programmes in their small towns work.

This was my first opportunity to visit one of our country programmes. Being able to go out into the communities in two very different small towns has given me a valuable insight into our work. I’m looking forward to following the on-going development of our small towns work and sharing these stories with our supporters.

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