Water Currents: World Water Day 2021


This issue of Water Currents focuses on World Water Day (WWD) 2021. The theme of this year’s celebration—valuing water—raises awareness of the vital role water plays in strengthening human security and maintaining the health of the planet's ecosystems. Access to safe and reliable water and sanitation underpin the well-being, household assets, and livelihoods of communities the world over. It provides a critical foundation for meaningful progress along the humanitarian to development continuum, particularly given the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Thanks to the impact of USAID programs implemented in support of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, communities around the world are benefiting from access to improved water and sanitation services and strengthening resilience in the face of a changing climate. In the two years of implementation of the first-ever U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, the Agency provided $835 million to support water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) activities in more than 50 countries around the world, empowering 11.6 million people to gain access to sustainable water, with 7.9 million gaining access for the first time.

Below are publications and studies from USAID–supported projects that deal with drinking water, sanitation, and health services; natural water resources and ecosystems; water storage and supply; among other issues.

In Focus

World Water Day: Valuing Water, March 22, 2021 – WWD 2021 is about what water means to people, its true value, and how to better protect this vital resource. The official website includes  materials such as the WWD ToolkitPosters and Social Media Resources, and Conversations.

USAID Publications and Resources by Topic

Assessing the Effects of COVID-19 on Access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in USAID High Priority and Strategy-Aligned Countries: Synthesis ReportUSAID Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS). December 2020. The assessment sought to characterize the current state of affairs and to forecast near-term (6–18 month) trends that could assist governments, donors, and implementers to prepare an informed response to the WASH–related impacts of the pandemic.

Nepal COVID-19 Impact Assessment ReportUSAID Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Finance (WASH-FIN), January 2021. WASH-FIN undertook a rapid assessment of 10 utilities to identify and assess the possible impacts on water utilities in terms of providing, maintaining, and ensuring the continuity of WASH services during the pandemic.

Water Service Provider COVID-19 Financial Stress Testing and MitigationWASH-FIN, July 2020. This technical brief discusses the financial effects of the pandemic on Water Service Providers.

WASH & COVID-19 Resources. This resource collection on the Globalwaters.org website contains policy and technical studies and resources from USAID and other organizations.

Data for Decision-Making
Improving WASH Evidence-Based Decision Making (IWED) Program–SummaryUSAID Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS), November 2020. To identify demand-driven, country-led initiatives, the WALIS activity developed IWED to provide strategic support to six government WASH agencies in sub-Saharan Africa. This video provides an overview of the program.

Strengthening Africa’s WASH Sector Capacity for Data-Driven Decision-MakingWALIS, September 2020. An important lesson learned from this activity is that supporting a demand-driven, government-led activity is the best way to ensure the sustainability of newly introduced systems or protocols. At the same time, collaborating with the relevant government agencies at the initiation of program design ensures there is no duplication of existing country initiatives.

Data for Water Security: Improving Water Data Access and Use.USAID Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP), September 2020. This report introduces water-related data for solving different types of water security problems, considerations for data collection initiatives, and an overview of the data value chain.

Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Health Services
The Next Step for USAID’s Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene Investments: Diversifying PartnershipsGlobalwaters.org Blog, February 2021. Maura Barry, USAID’s Acting Global Water Coordinator, discusses a new partnership approach called Diversifying Partnerships in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, which will bring in new expertise to address persistent barriers to water security challenges.

USAID Water and Development Technical SeriesCenter for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene. This set of technical briefs provides guidance on important topics for developing and implementing water and sanitation activities in support of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s plan under the strategy. Recent briefs include: WASH Governance December 2020 | Urban Water Services October 2020 | Rural Water Services May 2020 | Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in WASH August 2020.

Maintenance Approaches to Improve the Sustainability of Rural Water SuppliesUSAID Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS), January 2020. This document reviews literature about the factors influencing the sustainability of rural water services, and the emerging maintenance approaches seeking to address these factors and improve service reliability.

Handwashing Nudges in Zamboanga del Norte: Final ReportWASHPaLS, February 2021. The tested intervention consisted of the following nudges: painted footpath with spray-painted footprints from toilet stall to handwashing station, calendar of handwashing posters, “watching eye” sticker above the handwashing station, and arrow sticker pointing to a soap dish. This report details the results of the evaluation.

Country Sanitation ProfilesWALIS, 2020. WALIS developed sanitation profiles for five countries to document a common understanding of the sanitation situation and underscore critical areas where government leaders and donors could prioritize their efforts in close coordination with other sector stakeholders.

Natural Water Resources and Ecosystems
Stung Chinit River Basin Strategic Action Plan (SAP): CambodiaSWP, January 2021. The main goal of the SAP is to implement actions that promote sustainable development in the Stung Chinit River Basin with particular emphasis on water security and protection of biodiversity.

Sustainable Water Partnership ToolkitsSWP. This series details processes to address water risks, including long-term water stresses that constrain social and economic development and sudden shocks that can quickly jeopardize the health and livelihoods of vulnerable populations. Topics covered include water security planning, monitoring, and funding.

SWS Resources on Priority Learning ThemesSWS, February 2021. This resource collection links to webinars, blogs, and other publications on water security issues.

The Value of Water: Lessons Learned from the USAID Resilient Waters ProgramResilient Waters Program, February 2021. This webinar shares lessons learned on the value of water (from both the perspective of the challenges faced in the region and what the Resilient Waters Program is doing to address these challenges) at the transboundary, national, and community levels.

USAID Resilient Waters Program: Tackling Southern Africa’s Freshwater ChallengesIUCN, January 2020. Local communities in southern Africa are facing severe water challenges regarding fresh water for drinking, sanitation, and other services. The Okavango and Limpopo river basins are key transboundary water bodies in this region, where USAID’s Resilient Waters Program operates.

Experiences and Lessons Learned from WASH and Water Resources Governance in TanzaniaTanzania Water Resources Integration Development Initiative, February 2021. This webinar discusses the achievements, lessons learned, and the future of water supply and water governance in the Wami-Ruvu and Rufiji river basins.

WASH Economics/Financing
Creditworthy Municipalities Invest in Water and Sanitation to Meet Growing Demand in South AfricaWASH-FIN. January 2021. This brief provides a summary of the technical assistance support, key progress and results, and lessons learned for increasing access to finance for water and sanitation for municipalities in South Africa.

Expanding Finance for Water Service Providers in KenyaWASH-FIN. December 2020. This brief provides a summary of the technical assistance, key progress, lessons learned and recommendations, and results thus far for expanding access to finance for water service providers in Kenya.

Update on Electricity Costs for Service Providers in KenyaWASH-FIN, December 2020. Based on an initial assessment by the Water Services Regulatory Board, revenue collection by Water Service Providers (WSPs) dropped by 50 percent or more of pre-pandemic levels, limiting WSPs’ ability to pay for key inputs, with electricity being one of the critical expenses.

Uganda: Kabarole District Pay-As-You-Fetch Research ReportSWS, December 2020. The study investigated the factors leading to success or failure of the pay-as-you-fetch tariff collection model in 16 communities where it was introduced in 2016 by IRC Uganda and Kabarole district local government.

Other Non-USAID Reports and Studies on Valuing Water
Self-Supply: Filling the Gaps in Public Water Supply ProvisionPractical Action, February 2021. This  book examines  the  prevalence  of  self-supply,  its  role  in  water supply evolution, the potential it offers, and ways in which supporting self-supply can help to bridge the gap in, and improve the quality of, water provision.

In Pursuit of ‘Safe’ Water: The Burden of Personal Injury from Water Fetching in 21 Low-Income and Middle-Income CountriesBMJ Global Health, August 2020. Data from this study suggest that water-fetching injuries are an underappreciated and largely unmeasured public health challenge and the authors offer guidelines for comprehensive data collection on injuries to better capture the true burden of inadequate water access.

Stakeholders' Willingness and Motivations to Support Sustainable Water Resources Management: Insights from a Ghanaian StudyConservation Science and Practice, January 2020. Researchers found a willingness to support water protection measures for a variety of reasons and conclude that policymakers need to emphasize those motivations when encouraging the public to engage in sustainable water resource management practices.

Is Household Water Insecurity a Link Between Water Governance and Well-Being? A Multi-Site AnalysisJournal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, June 2020. Improving water governance has the potential to meaningfully impact entrenched public health issues through changes in water insecurity.

Who Pays for Water? Comparing Life Cycle Costs of Water Services among Several Low, Medium and High-Income UtilitiesWorld Development, December 2020. This study compared water utilities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and the United States. All utilities have budget gaps, but they can range from 2.6 percent to 10,000 percent.

Ending Conflicts Over Water: Solutions to Water and Security ChallengesPacific Institute, September 2020. This report explores several dozen strategies to reduce water-related conflicts in key water-insecure hotspots around the world. The report features a companion video: Ending Conflicts Over Water and tool: Water Conflict Chronology.


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