Universal Rural Water Access: Ideas and Partners Welcome to Make the Net Work

Women gather water at a water point rehabilitated with USAID support as part of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Integrated Health Project. Photo credit: USAID/DRC

Achieving universal access to safe, affordable water by 2030 is the immensely challenging target set in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. As eight out of 10 of those with access to an improved water source live in rural areas, the burden falls on rural water supply professionals to step up to the mark. For 25 years, the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) has been helping professionals meet, exchange, and learn from each other, and in that time the number of people without access to water in rural areas has declined by more than half a billion.

RWSN is a global movement of nearly 10,000 members, and we look for the opportunities and leverage points where building a strong collaboration can have a large impact. In the past, this has included public domain hand pump standards, and more recently we focus on a broad range of issues, from technology, governance, human rights, finance, monitoring, science, and business models. Last November we hosted our 7th RWSN Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where over 450 participants attended and a wealth of peer-reviewed papers, posters, and films from practitioners, researchers, and policymakers is still available online. We are grateful to the USAID Water Through Africa Leadership and Institutional Support program for being a Silver Sponsor and helping us make this wonderful event the success that it was.

Our network promotes knowledge exchange and technology transfer on a wide range of themes of particular interest to the rural water sector: accelerating self-supply, sustainable groundwater development, equality and inclusion, sustainable services, and mapping and monitoring. The recently completed 2017 RWSN webinar series is now available online as is a writing course for WASH professionals, and a range of technical materials.

RWSN works because we have so many enthusiastic partners—individuals and organizations—who contribute ideas, knowledge, time, and funds.  How can we make it easier for you to use the network to benefit your work in rural water supply? What are the topics and geographic areas that we should give most attention?

We invite you to take the RWSN online member survey, and we also want to provide the space for other forms of feedback and suggestions. Please feel free to send us your thoughts as a comment to this RWSN blog in English, French, or Spanish, or by email. Your opinion really matters!

To find out more, you can find our current strategy on the RWSN website. And you can become an RWSN member.

Sean Furey serves as the RWSN Secretariat’s communications and membership manager and is a water and sanitation specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd. with over 20 years of experience working in rural water supply.