Q&A: Lifewater International

Discussion Forum

PWX members can use this space to discuss elements of the Organization. PWX members can post questions or comments and they will be seen by everybody. Any PWX member can respond to the questions and comments, not just the submitter.

Little deliberation

Posted over 10 years ago

LifeWater has supported BPR during its 2007 Run through its home town and has also helped by sharing its experiences with partners in the field. LifeWater's legacy of training has been the seed of a few projects of BPR in Sierra Leone.

So, not much to ask of LifeWater but to say Welcome!

The other orgs included in the review have some overlap in geographic regions and hopefully use this process to get introduced to a new partner.

Little deliberation

Posted over 10 years ago

I already applied in some detail to the other LifeWater email.

Numbers

Posted over 10 years ago

Sam:

It sounds like you folks do good work in providing RWSS services.

It would be helpful to see some documentation about the scope of your operations by providing some numerical indicators such as:

What countries have you worked in,

How many and what kinds of water and/or sanitation facilities you have built

Estimated number of beneficiaries, financing arrangements, in-house staffing, etc.

I noticed that your outfit worked in Sierra Leone. Definitely not a place on my "must go to" list.

Happy Mothers Day,
Rick

Numbers

Posted over 10 years ago

Sam:

I just checked out your website. You folks clearly have lots of experience doing the right thing. What you need to do to strengthen your PWX application is just to cut and paste some information to numerically document that experience, such as the bit cut and pasted from your website, as shown below.

Add some bits about the approximate number of project beneficiaries, number of systems (water, sanitation, school latrines - whatever else you do), system profiles, e.g., piped treated systems with household connections (or village standpipes, dug wells, school water systems, promoting sanitary latrines, promoting hygienic behavior such as hand washing with soap (if indeed you do that, if not, no problem, but something that you might want to consider).

"Lifewater International has been working in over 40 countries around the world for over 25 years. There are several factors that help us determine where we direct our efforts, including the extent of the need, the capacity of our national partner organizations, and the nature of the project cycle. Since all of these factors change over time, so does the list of countries in which we are currently working. In the past, Lifewater has worked in: (some countries have been withheld from the list for security reasons)".

Ghana
Liberia
Nigeria
Burkina Faso
Morocco
Togo
Sierra Leone
Mozambique
Kenya
Uganda
Sudan Rwanda
Malawi
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Tanzania
Haiti
Mexico
Costa Rica
Guatemala
Honduras Ethiopia
Eritrea
Romania
Moldova
Panama
Ecuador
Peru
El Salvador
Guinea Bissau Philippines
China
Indonesia
India
Bangladesh
Laos
Papua New Guinea
Afghanistan
(others in Central and Southeast Asia)

Numbers

Posted over 10 years ago

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your great questions and suggestions. I've been up against some deadlines, so I apologize for the delay in responding. I'm working on the answers and will have them up by this Friday.

All the best,

Sam

Re: Numbers

Posted over 10 years ago

Hi Sam,

Looking forward to learning from your response. There is no need to replicate info from your website. PWX is for sharing practices and the organization profiles are a great place to put details to approaches and methodologies that cannot be found on our normal websites.

This is a new development - Lifewater will be a trailblazer! As you can see, most of the other members have not put much info about their approach!

Numbers

Posted over 10 years ago

Here’s a little more detail on beneficiaries and WASH areas of focus.
In 2008, Lifewater programs helped communities gain access to water, sanitation, and hygiene education in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia. The following is a list of activities directly funded by Lifewater and implemented by our partners in these five countries:
Total number of communities served with water: 138
Total number of people served with water: 119,000
Total number of wells drilled: 50
Total number of hand pumps repaired: 132
Total number of people served with sanitation and hygiene education: 84,000
Estimated total number of household latrines constructed as a result of sanitation promotion activities: 4,000
Total number of schools served with water: 22
Total number of latrine doors constructed at schools: 232

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Hello

I'm glad to have been asked to review your organization. We have been contacted by some LifeWater staff to share experiences and have also had the pleasure of working with some communities that have been supported by LifeWater as well.

I would like to ask how you process or determine who you work with/support? Are they are interviewed or vetted? Do they draw up a proposal? Who funds their projects? How are the local people engaged?

Thanks so much ! I have such a deep respect for your work!

In peace
Gemma

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Hello Gemma,
Thank you for the nice introduction! I guess I was sort of introduced to you and A Single Drop through Pat Klever and Barak Bruerd of BWM. I read your interesting description of the PODS program in the Philippines. The approach is very similar to what we try to do with partners, but I believe we could learn a lot from you on some of the community mobilization techniques. Our partners all have different approaches to working with community groups, but most could benefit from seeing how the PODS are formed and sustained.

On to your question: Lifewater works with in-country churches and faith-based NGOs. Our mission is to equip them to care for their communities through WASH services and training. We receive requests for partnerships and if the organizations are within our strategic growth area/plan, we will start the (two-way) interview process. We look for alignment of mission - we want to work with groups whose primary focus is WASH, or in the case of a church, those who have a dept or branch dedicated to water, sanitation, and hygiene. We have an application for partnership and we request basic documents that show the organization's commitments, legality, and financial position (e.g., registration with gov, org chart, last audit and or annual report, web page, etc). We also want them to interview us to see if we are a good fit to help them fulfill their mission.

Once a partnership is approved and formed, we will sign an MOU as partners (non-project specific at this point). Then we will move forward to create a proposal together for some new project. These proposals are intended to spring from the partners work with communities and schools. Some times our partners are working closely with the local and regional governments, in which case they are connected to local water and sanitation source committees (WSSC) and community health clubs. Community involvement is strong with some partners, and not so strong with others. We’re looking for good models from one partner and trying to get them to share with the other partners. Projects are typically funded through Lifewater donors with some gifts in kind at the community level.
Please let me know if you have other questions. I read that you are looking to open an office in Tanzania. We need to figure out a time when we can talk more about your BSF and PODS programs – let’s keep the dialogue going.

Peace,
Sam

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Hello Sam

So great to connect! What a great model! I really like the process of each of the stakeholders funders/trainers/beneficiaries having an interview process to vet each other. Trust is so important, and not often addressed.

On a side note, I was glad to hear that Lifewater is also working with jerry ohs and the round BSF mold! We've started to introduce it in Africa as well.

I'm very much looking forward to learning from each other and really supporting the growth and development of sustainable strategies and dignified capacity building.

I'm based in the Bay Area. Perhaps there might be an opportunity for us to meet sometime in California. My brother went to school at Cal Poly and i was at UCSB. I would very much like to see your facility and learn more about your work.

In peace
Gemma

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Sam:

I’m Rick McGowan. To put my questions below in context, I am a water and sanitation engineer and project manager for lots of World Bank, ADB, USAID and UNDP projects, and most recently working for East Meets West Foundation here in Vietnam. Maybe I need to be responding to some other document than the one that you submitted for review, but my response here is just based below on the three-paragraph letter you sent to Gemma.

The description of your overall approach institutional approach seems fairly simple, but less detailed than other PWX proposals that I have reviewed in the past. In assessing your proposal, it would be quite helpful if you explained just how you intend to do the following:

Institutional Approach - Working through faith-based organizations, community mobilization, local governments, etc., but it is not obvious about who does what tasks, in what order, the technical approach (water source selection, water quality testing, design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance, long term sustainability, etc. In particular, I would like to know the following:

MOU - What does the standard MOU include? I assume that it includes at least the following items:

1. Site location – How are sites selected? Presumably you have a set of specific site selection steps. What are they? How is the final site selection arrived at?

2. Information - How are potential beneficiaries informed of the project’s intentions, and their proposed required inputs?

3. What needs to take place (on your side, the government side, the community side) before the MOU is signed?

4. Institutional arrangements – Who does what in terms of planning, design, financing, etc.

Technical, Financial and Training Issues

In particular, it would be good to know how you intend to deal with the following issues:

5. Technical (1) – Who selects and assesses the capacity of the proposed water source?

6. Technical (2) - Who designs the water and sanitation facilities?

7. Technical (3) - Who builds and who does construction supervision?

8. Technical (4) - Who is responsible for O&M?

9. Financial (1) - What is/are the source/s of the initial capital investment?

10. Financial (2) – What kind of contributions will be required of the beneficiary communities?

11. Financial (3) – Who pays for the operation, maintenance system expansion, and spare and replacement parts and materials?

12. Financial (4) - What happens if the beneficiaries are not willing to pay the full cost of O&M?

13. Training (1) – Who prepares and implements the training program to keep all the stuff that you intend to build up and running and providing the intended services over the long run?

14. Training (2) – Who will design and build the latrines? What kind of latrines are they, and who do you anticipate will be the beneficiaries? Households, schools, public builds (e.g., markets), etc.

15. Training (3) – Who is going to do the community-level health and hygiene training? This is not as simple as it may initially seen. Effective trainers need high level skills to convince people of the benefits to improved sanitation and hygiene (hand washing with soap).

16. Training (4) - Does your organization have sufficiently skilled staff to work with numerous communities simultaneously to all the skills to carry out all of the above tasks? Please describe how you intend to carry all this tasks out, by whom, and with what source(s) of financing.

This is all just right off the top of my head on Sunday afternoon in Hanoi. There are likely to be other issues not necessarily addressed in the list above that may well pop up as the proposed program might evolve.

Cheers, Rick McGowan

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

As far as I know, you just submit a detailed description of what your program does (water, sanitation, what kind, where, who are beneficiaries, financing arrangements, etc.) as I listed in my last entry. Then reviewers like me who are assigned to review your proposal make comments on your approach, and you revise your approach (or not) as you see fit. Then after the reviewers assess your group's suitability for inclusion in the PWX, you can then submit a project for potential funding.

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Part I
Hi Rick,
I did some editing of the web profile but tried not to add too much that could be found our web site. As I’m sure you picked up from perusing our web page, we work through in-country partners who are not Lifewater staff. So for the answers I’ll focus on generally what happens between our partners and the community. Lifewater sees itself as both a training and equipping organization in that we spend quite a bit of time and resources on helping our partners improve their WASH program delivery. But we also seek to connect with funding sources to help them implement projects. Lifewater is a founding member of the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) and have benefitted greatly from our interactions with other members and our combined effectiveness in fundraising and advocacy.

Responses to your questions:
1. Site location – How are sites selected? Presumably you have a set of specific site selection steps. What are they? How is the final site selection arrived at?

This varies slightly from partner to partner but in general, sites selection is managed by the in-country partner in collaboration with the local and regional government. For example, in northern Uganda, one of our partners is part of UWASNET, the Ugandan Water and Sanitation Network, and is therefore connected to other players in the sector and the local and regional government. They are known by the government for their WASH programs and were included in the government’s three-year development plan for two of the sub-counties in the north. To avoid duplication of efforts, NGO interventions are coordinated and this partner is responsible for providing WASH services in sites that the government has prioritized as being water scarce. Our partner is then responsible to coordinate all program activities with the local government in terms of drilling, meeting with local water and sanitation source committees, facilitating hygiene and sanitation workshops in the communities, and area-wide WASH promotion events.

2. Information - How are potential beneficiaries informed of the project’s intentions, and their proposed required inputs?

Our in-country partner, with varying levels of interaction from the local government, will meet with community/school leaders to discuss the project activities and outputs. Usually a letter of commitment, or MOU, is drafted between the partner and the beneficiaries discussing expectations and required inputs (e.g., bricks, cement, food, water for drilling, security, financial contribution per family or community). For example, one partner will spend two days in a mobilization and sensitization activity wherein community leaders and members complete a community survey together. In addition, focus groups discussions are held to share information on what is working and what could use improvement in the area of WASH. One partner is trying to grow in their ability facilitate community chosen indicators for project success, and so they would also facilitate a short discussion probing on how the community might measure their own success at the end of the project.

3. What needs to take place (on your side, the government side, the community side) before the MOU is signed?

Again, the MOU is between our in-country partner and the community. Lifewater, at this time, does not mandate one process; however, we are currently reviewing the need for greater emphasis on this document, across all of our partnerships, as means to verify that the community is committed to the work. In general, an MOU is not signed until Lifewater has secured funding for the project, the government has approved the project, the partner has planned the intervention with the community, and the community has agreed to provide certain inputs.

4. Institutional arrangements – Who does what in terms of planning, design, financing, etc.
Technical, Financial and Training Issues

In particular, it would be good to know how you intend to deal with the following issues:
5. Technical (1) – Who selects and assesses the capacity of the proposed water source?

Lifewater’s in-country partner with technical input from Lifewater staff and professional volunteers.

6. Technical (2) - Who designs the water and sanitation facilities?

Lifewater’s in-country partner with technical input from Lifewater staff and professional volunteers. With the exception of school latrines, in-country partners usually build demonstration latrines and provide little to no subsidies for latrine construction. The goal is to have households cover most or all of the cost of their latrine. Our partners input comes at the sanitation and promotion primarily.

7. Technical (3) - Who builds and who does construction supervision?

Lifewater’s in-country partner with technical input from Lifewater staff and professional volunteers.

8. Technical (4) - Who is responsible for O&M?

Local water and sanitation committees are responsible for O&M. Our partners train local technicians in hand pump repair. Different technician models exist from the ‘circuit’ technician who is responsible for a greater service area to the committees that might be trained and share a set of repair tools with other committees in the area.

9. Financial (1) - What is/are the source/s of the initial capital investment?

Lifewater funds in-country projects through our stateside funding efforts. Of course, local in-kind support from the communities also contributes to the initial construction costs.

10. Financial (2) – What kind of contributions will be required of the beneficiary communities?
See above.

What is the invitation process?

Posted over 10 years ago

Part II
11. Financial (3) – Who pays for the operation, maintenance system expansion, and spare and replacement parts and materials?

At the community-level, models vary, but many communities have a water-use tariff that users pay at the borehole. These fees are managed by the water source committee and used for repairs.
In terms of Lifewater’s on-going support for our in-country partners, as project work continues, we include rig maintenance and replacement in new project proposals to cover some costs. Partners also contract their drilling services to other organizations, both private and NGOs, to keep revenue coming in.

12. Financial (4) - What happens if the beneficiaries are not willing to pay the full cost of O&M?

Great question! This is the challenge in the sector, isn’t it. Our partners seek to influence motivated actors in each community so that O&M is supported. They are church leaders, elected officials, women’s groups, head teachers, and local health promoters/educators. Partners are savvy and generally recognize the signs within a community that the community is looking for a free service provider. But it still happens.

13. Training (1) – Who prepares and implements the training program to keep all the stuff that you intend to build up and running and providing the intended services over the long run?

Partners train local health worker and motivated volunteers to keep the hygiene promotion/education going. Of course, the paid workers have more of an incentive to sustain the work, but we’ve also seen work continue with women’s groups.

14. Training (2) – Who will design and build the latrines? What kind of latrines are they, and who do you anticipate will be the beneficiaries? Households, schools, public builds (e.g., markets), etc.
As mentioned, we encourage zero-subsidy sanitation but recognize that small incentives can be a huge boost for extremely poor communities. We train partners in the basic types of low-cost latrines (e.g. pit, VIP) including EcoSan (e.g., Arborloo, twin-pit dry). We encourage single family latrines because of the maintenance issues with no-fee, non-attended public latrines. School latrines are usually designed by our partners using local designs or designs that we suggest that have been successful from other partners, or ‘industry-tested’ designs promoted by WEDC and others.

15. Training (3) – Who is going to do the community-level health and hygiene training? This is not as simple as it may initially seen. Effective trainers need high level skills to convince people of the benefits to improved sanitation and hygiene (hand washing with soap).

We have three-part Community Health through Hygiene curriculum that partners can adapt for community use. The three modules are called Handwashing at Critical Times, Safe Fecal Disposal, and Safe Water Chain. We are currently working on adaptation tools and progressing in our ability to help partners prepare workshop materials that are appropriate to their training delivery models. Some partners train community health workers who, as you alluded to, have varying levels of skill. Some partners hire qualified ‘ToTs’ and employee them to train community-level groups for the duration of the program. We encourage partners to train individuals who have an incentive to continue the work after the project funding ceases. But again, this is a sector-wide concern. It is why we also are investing more in schools with their ongoing structure to educate children through health clubs.

16. Training (4) - Does your organization have sufficiently skilled staff to work with numerous communities simultaneously to all the skills to carry out all of the above tasks? Please describe how you intend to carry all this tasks out, by whom, and with what source(s) of financing.

Our partners range in size from the small NGO to the large development and social services branch of churches with millions of members countrywide.

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of how Lifewater works. We are learners and looking forward to being part of PWX to see what others are doing in the field.

I look forward to further interactions!
All the best,
Sam