by Sean Furey, Skat Foundation / UPGro Knowledge Broker Team
AGUASAN Workshop: “Leveraging the data revolution Informed decision-making for better water and sanitation management” June 25th to 29th 2018, Spiez, Switzerland
AGUASAN is the Swiss Community of Practice for water and sanitation that has been running since 1984 and comprises regular meetings through the year and an annual week-long workshop focused on a specific topic, which this year was around role of data in decision-making in water and sanitation services. Around 40 participants attended at a really great training facility in Spiez, in central Switzerland. They came, not just from Swiss organisations, but from a wide range of partners (many who are active RWSN members). There were participants from Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Mozambique, Peru, Thailand, Mali, Pakistan, Benin, Egypt, Mongolia, the UK, South Africa, US and many more. I was attending on behalf of RWSN, UPGro and REACH because the network and both research programmes have a lot to share on this topic.
The structure of the event mixed up presentations with “Clinical Cases” group work focused on real-world case studies and challenges where participants could advise representatives from those organisations:
- Clinical case 1: Urban sanitation Ghana: Case of GARV Toilets (Aparna Divakar, GARV Toilets)
- Clinical case 2: Emergency WASH Bangladesh (Saiduzzaman Khan Mohammad, World Vision International)
- Clinical case 3: Rural WASH Bangladesh (Nurul Osman, HYSAWA)
- Clinical case 4: Water resources management Colombia: AGUANET (Juan-Felipe Pinto-Castelblanco, Volunteer, RNJA/TECHO)
- Clinical case 5: Rural WASH Ethiopian (Tesfahun Molla, Helvetas)
- Clinical case 6: Water resources management Nepal (Ariane Schertenleib, Eawag)
Different aspects issues around data use in water and sanitation were introduced through a good range of engaging presentations:
- “From Chinese whispers through Data Analysis to data-based decision making” – Marc Andre Bünzli, SDC Humanitarian Aid
- Using a simple ICT solution to support better water supply in urban Angola – David Schaub-Jones, See/Saw
- Zombie statistics and beyond Transparency and Accountability in the WASH sector – Amy Keegan, Wateraid
- From data to action-oriented decisions : What we learned since 2011 – Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson, Co-director, Akvo
- The value of data: lessons from the aviation industry – Florian Teichert, WMO HydroHub
- Innovation to Improve Children’s Health: Lessons learnt from IeDA piloting in Burkina Faso – Terre des Hommes
- Non-traditional (Irrigation-) Water Monitoring through Local Involvement : Selected Outcomes & Learnings from the SDC-incubated iMoMo Project – Dr. Tobias Siegfried, Hydrosolutions
- Joint Sector Reviews and why they do matter – Dr Kerstin Danert, Skat Consulting
- Better data for urban sanitation – Lindsey Noakes, Gather
- DATASS – Rural Wash Information System – Cesarina Quintana, SDC Global Programme Water, Peru
- Emergency Information Management: From data collection to data analysis – supporting decision-making for WASH coordination in emergencies – Aliocha Salagnac, UNICEF
- Practical Insights Groundwater Mapping and Monitoring of Chad – Dr. Pascal Vinard, SDC Chad
AGUASAN workshops aim to come out with useful output and what was proposed was a practical guideline that pulled together they key points from the presentations and discussions, around a common framework, which was beautifully illustrated on the wall of the plenary room at the end:
I was not completely convinced by the linear conceptual framework that was proposed because what I have observed previously, and came out in the discussion and presentations, is that WASH systems are generally messy, non-linear processes. However, what was clear is that good quality monitoring, mapping and data is a critical “fuel” for driving positive feedback loops for short-term operational decision-making and longer term learning and adaptation cycles.
Despite Skat’s long association with the AGUASAN workshop this was my first workshop and I enjoyed it, and found it useful to have the opportunity to have a few days away from the distractions of emails, to focus on one topic with knowledgeable colleagues from all over the world and all over the WASH sector. The field trips also took us to explore some of Switzerland fascinating water history and modern challenges.
Tandi Erlmann, Johannes Heeb and the Cewas team did a great job with the facilitation and event design and also thanks to SDC for their continued financial and thematic support to the event. As well as good for networking – it was also a good international crowd to be around with the World Cup going on!
The final report will be published on www.aguasan.ch where you can find outputs from previous workshops. Most of the presentations and background documents can be on the SDC ResEau website. Photos from the event can be found here on Flickr.
Below are my sketch-notes of some of the presentations (click/tap to enlarge):