In September we hosted an event, Partnerships for Advancing WASH, on Capitol Hill with sector partners.

We had speakers from The GAP Inc. Foundation, The PepsiCo Foundation, Kohler, and LIXIL along with Chris Milligan, USAID Counselor and highest ranking career Foreign Service Officer.

The event brought together over 100 people from NGOs, congressional staff, agency staff, and private sector to discuss and learn about the benefits of partnerships for WASH programming.

During this event USAID announced Jen Mack as the newly appointed USAID Global Water Coordinator, in accordance with the Water for the World Act. This was a huge success for increasing political will for WASH, in particular sanitation, and for ensuring USAID fulfills its mandate under the law.

 

 

The key talking points from our attendees can be found below.

Millenium Water Alliance

"Today we have a real opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done in WASH to help millions of the world’s poorest people achieve full coverage and safe and clean drinking water and better sanitation and hygiene as the world works towards the 2030 sustainable development goals. And we look particularly to the private sector as key partners in this effort."
Keith Wright | Millenium Water Alliance

"Water is central to everything we do"

"It’s a health issue. It’s essential to business development. It’s about conflict prevention it’s about good government and really, most of all, it’s about human dignity."

Chris Milligan | USAID

WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

Milligan goes on:

"...Our private sector partners recognize the invaluable role that the public sector and key collaborators play in reaching the under-served. So as we work with them, we are confident that the global community can come together and achieve water security for all."

Gap Inc.

"GAP has made a commitment to reduce our water usage by 10 Billion liters by the end of 2020. Our partnership with USAID on the Women and Water Alliance is placing women at the center of the WASH solution."
Ira Hersch | GAP Inc. Foundation
Ira Hersch | GAP Inc. Foundation

Hersch goes on:

"...The alliance is a 5 year program, a partnership between USAID and GAP and is currently working in India and we are looking to scale beyond. By building this education and awareness we are also creating greater demand. And in creating greater demand we are also identifying ways to service that demand through innovative solutions and bringing greater wash technologies into the community. We’ve made these commitments and build these types of partnerships, not because they are easy but because it’s the right way to go and it’s the right direction for us to move as a corporate partner."

Kohler

"What can we (Kohler) do to leverage our competencies and then work with partners that bring competencies to the table that we don’t have? We work with partners... because they bring competencies that we don’t have."
Ratish Namboothiry | Kohler
Ratish Namboothiry, Kohler

“Water and sanitation is foundational to our businesses. We’ve been in the business for providing water and sanitation services, albeit in developed markets, for over 145 years, so we see WASH as a natural extension of what we do in our core business.I have the good fortune to lead a team at Kohler called Innovation for Good Team. What we do is incubate new ideas and work with a variety of different partners that help us implement these ideas through sustainable business models.

What can we do to leverage our competencies and then work with partners that bring competencies to the table that we don’t have. So we work with partners like the Gates Foundation, Water Mission, Operation Blessing and the ones that are listed there because they bring competencies that we don’t have.

For example,

  1. last mile distribution of the products to these communities that don’t have access to these services.
  2. Access to funding or financing to buy the products
  3. The ability to train and educate and drive behave change in these communities.

These are things that we (Kohler) are not equipped to do, but what we are equipped to do is bring in “a muscle of innovation". Our product development competencies, our global footprint, our manufacturing, supply and distribution competencies: all of that in combination with our partnerships brings solutions to these communities that are long lasting.”

The Pepsi Co Foundation

"In 2006 we set forward an agenda to provide access to clean water and sanitation services for 25 million people by 2025. "
Silvia Cruz-Vargas, Pepsi Co Foundation
Silvia Cruz-Vargas, Pepsi Co Foundation

"In 2006 we set forward an agenda to provide access to clean water and sanitation services for 25 million people by 2025. This is an agenda we have been covering for many years now with several priority partners around the globe. Outside of Latin America we work primarily in Pakistan and India with partner WaterAid. Looking for sustainable and scaleable solutions in the southern part of those two countries, as to how it is best to empower communities with possibilities. 
We also believe in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s no favors to the water space and the water topic if we don’t talk about the mistakes being learned, the mistakes being done and the lessons that we achieve everyday through these partnerships."

Cruz-Vargas goes on, to elaborate about communication within a partnership. 

“I think there is also a point about the maturity of a partnership because you come to the table with the same goals and aspirations. As soon as you are uncovering and unpeeling the different layers of bureaucracy and complexity that a private sector partner and a public sector partner bring. You come to realize that the goals might be completely different in practice versus the aspiration on paper.

We may be able to say, yes, 25 Million people benefited by 2025. But what does it actually mean and what is behind it?

At the same time what does the public sector partner have to offer that very same mission. I have come to the realization over the past 7 years of this wonderful work, is that we have to listen to each other. We have to assume a pre-competitive spirit. This isn’t about making numbers of revenue and profit. This is about, as you point out, the consumer or the beneficiary at the end, it’s one and the same. So I believe that, to the degree that both parties can be influenced, where there is a little bit of maturity and flexibility in that relationship, the partnership can flourish.”

USAID Water

"Beneficiaries are also consumers. When you are looking at water and sanitation products, there’s often a desire for aspirational products and services. "
Jeff Goldberg | USAID Water Office
Jeff Goldberg | USAID Water Office

Goldberg's quote in full, highlighting the opportunities for the private sector in building partnerships:

"A lot of the beneficiaries that we use, and that’s a particular term within development parlance are also consumers. Beneficiaries are also consumers. When you are looking at water and sanitation products. There’s often a desire for aspirational products and services. And a lot of the behavior change research that takes place in the wash sector really points to that.  So while we’re interested in a slew of different development outcomes, we’re increasingly are committed particularly through the new private sector  engagement strategy to also looking at this as a market opportunity and to facilitate the private sector."

"It’s really essential that we work together. NGOs, Government, development funders we’re all really targeting and trying to work with the same communities and trying to improve people’s lives."

Troy Benavidez | LIXIL Americas

WaterAid/Anjali Daryanani
"We don’t believe we’re going to achieve our broader development goals if we don’t we address the sanitation needs first. That’s just foundational for us."
Troy Benavidez, LIXIL Americas

Benavidez goes on:

“It’s really essential that we work together. NGOs, Government, development funders we’re all really targeting and trying to work with the same communities and trying to improve the same people’s lives. We really need to think about how we can partner, be much more efficient and effective in how we work together. This is one of the key learnings we have.

Second

Many of us have taken for granted that we used a toilet today. We simply flushed and walked away from it and really didn’t think twice about it. We know that 2 Billion people don’t have access and don’t have the luxury that we have when we do those things. We have also learned that the problem doesn’t just exist around the world. This problem also exists in the United States. We know there are people in this country who don’t have access to complete plumbing. We need to address that in our own back yard.”

The IAPMO Group

"Today’s discussion is really the tip of the iceberg of what can be accomplished when industry, NGOs, government and other stakeholders partner together."
Christopher Lindsay | The IAPMO Group

Lindsay's quote in full:

"Today’s discussion is really the tip of the iceberg for those of you like water puns of what can be accomplished when industry, NGOs, government and other stakeholders partner together. The outcomes that we can see from these partnerships will lead to increased capacities of government and local industry, directly impacting the sustainability of our efforts. In short, more lives will be changed.”