The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is recognised a leading international development agency in the global water sector and one that is not afraid to challenge others and itself to reflect, learn and improve. So it is to be welcomed that SDC has made public an independent evaluation of the agency’s engagement in the water sector between 2010 and 2017, including the management response .
One of the main findings was that the continuity, long-term approach and flexibility of SDC were important factors behind the relevance, effectiveness and impact of SDC’s operations in water. We can relate to this finding because the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) and SDC have been partners since the network’s inception in 1992 (as the Handpump Technology Network) and the longstanding partnership has been mutually beneficial over the years thanks to that long-term view and flexibility.
It was pleasing to see in the evaluation report itself, several positive mentions of RWSN, which are worth highlight here because they illustrate the care and passion that our network’s Theme and Topic Leaders and Executive Steering Committee members, and my colleagues in the Secretariat, put in to making the network work:
• “RWSN – the network has recently been evaluated and represents a long-term investment into support global WASH. It focuses especially on the issue of sustainability thus addressing a major area of investment and a major issue in rural water and sanitation where the GPW has had the opportunity to add value in terms of building up a knowledge base.” (p84)
Also in relation to SDC promoting sustainability of water interventions:
• "SDC’s widespread support to knowledge, learning and exchange in the various networks helps to further harmonize and strengthen approaches to sustainability globally – for instance through its support to RWSN which has sustainability as one of its core themes”, (p47)
And on enabling and strengthening partners’ capacities to implement actions and to make the case using water actions to bring about and trigger transformative gender equality:
• “Networks could highlight positive case studies, develop position papers and show how equal access to and control of water resources has led to more sustainable results. An existing positive example is RWSN, which has a “Gender and inclusion” subtheme.” (p65)
Elsewhere in the evaluation report, RWSN is used as an exemplar for SDC networking to learn from, including on “active peer-to-peer exchange through the online platforms.” (p43); the importance of in-kind contributions from members from the network to drive vibrancy (p.43); and the value of our events, notably the 7th RWSN Forum in Abidjan in 2016 (p52).
The overall and detailed findings of the evaluation show that SDC Global Programme Water (GPW) is effective and efficient and it is great to see that many, if not all, the recommended changes are being addressed in some way through the formulation of its GPW Strategic Framework 2021-2024, was shared with partners for comment earlier this month.
Thank you to the GPW team for the continued partnership to achieve our shared goals of achieving universal access to safe drinking water, sustainable water management and poverty eradication.