Theory of Change
Aqua for All’s approach is unique; we can offer a variety of stakeholders a wide range of services, simultaneously – for them to support the Base of the Pyramid in their search for access to water, sanitation and hygienic circumstances (WASH). Below, we summarize the problems we take on, the opportunities for solutions, the way we respond to these challenges and opportunities, and the outcome we wish to achieve.
1. Our challenge
What is the main challenge we’re taking on?
People at the BoP do not have and therefore demand proper access to clean, safe water, good sanitation and hygienic circumstances. They want this access to be of good quality, structural, affordable and both financially and environmentally sustainable.
What are the causes of this challenge? Mostly these:
Water services are often non-existent, of bad quality, expensive and/or rarely (environmentally and financially) sustainable. Also, the services are limited in scale, while the innovative ones appear to be particularly hard to scale up.
Water service models are often ineffective, while the service delivery is inefficient. Also, the ability to adapt to alternatives is limited. In many cases, there is no coordination and knowledge sharing among implementers and donors. Many governments still lack the capacity to solve these problems.
There are still insufficient financial means to take on the lack of WASH. Meanwhile, many of the financial instruments that exist fail. All this in an increasingly complex (market) context.
Are there opportunities for a solution? Definitely!
The growing importance of access to safe water on the international agenda, made even more visible by its prominent place on the UN Sustainability Goals list for 2030, is slowly increasing that access. Many (particularly Dutch) Public Private Partnerships are working toward the same goal. Also, there are promising innovations waiting for a business trial.
Among governments, funds, grant programs, NGO’s, companies and knowledge institutions, there is a growing sense of urgency in taking on WASH challenges. Therefore, they share solutions and expertise in an open source manner, look for ways to leverage their investments and are aware that proper WASH is more sustainable if it is a paid, commercially lucrative service than if it is charity. Business accelerators and the (Dutch) water sector are eager to help out (local) entrepreneurs.
The private sector is increasingly involved in WASH projects, often adding its investments to those of governments and NGO’s. Funds are blended more and more often, creating smart financial constructions, while there is also more coherence in funding modalities.
2. Our approach
How do we respond to these challenges and opportunities?
Not by working with the BoP directly, but by creating and maintaining smart and sustainable partnerships with and between funds, grant programs, companies, NGO’s and/or knowledge institutions. With sustainable we mean: Financially, Institutionally, Environmentally, Technologically and Socially sustainable (The FIETS Model). Many of them do work with the BoP directly or come from BoP communities themselves.
How do we set up these partnerships?
If potential partners do not already come to us, we go to them and invite them to join the team for safe water and proper sanitation for the BoP. Aqua for All’s track record is persuasive: our background as an NGO set up by the Dutch water sector combined with our familiarity with the specific priorities and interests of NGOs, business and governments is unique.
How does a partnership start?
We help our partners develop their ideas, wishes, means and/or initiatives. We listen to what they have to offer, bringing our own experience and knowledge to the table. We determine with them how to leverage their investment and maximize impact. And we discuss with them what services we could offer to reach that objective. Where we ourselves cannot directly help, we look for a party that can within in our extensive network.
What happens next?
After setting up a working plan and contract, we provide one or more of the following services (simultaneously if needed, which sets Aqua for All apart from other organizations offering similar services):
1. Developing programs and partnerships
2. Providing water and sanitation CSR solutions
3. Developing business opportunities
4. Co-financing and leveraging investment
5. Providing smart project monitoring tools and services
6. Assessing and advising on projects
7. Supporting and promoting best practices across the sector
So, what can we do for our partners through our services?
Through these services, we can:
… connect their money, knowledge, ideas, technology and/or networks with those of other parties.
… find, help develop and increase the impact of innovative WASH ideas, plans, projects and programs.
… scale-up successful projects and programs, in terms of both ‘people reached’ and ‘the impact on their lives’.
… support our partners with quality control, monitoring, communication and follow-up advice.
All of these activities focus on three thematic areas we call ‘Innovation tracks’:
We support sustainable water management. This type of management revolves around recharging old water sources, retaining ground- and rainwater, and re-using ground- and rainwater.
We support new ways to improve sanitation. For instance: making it commercially interesting for local communities to establish and maintain basic sanitation services.
Services for the BoP
We support the development of high-quality WASH technology that poor communities are able to obtain, afford, maintain and often generate income
3. Our desired outcome
We want people at the BoP to obtain what they rightly demand and urgently need: proper access to clean, safe water, good sanitation and hygienic circumstances (WASH). Here, ‘proper’ means that the access to clean, safe water is of good quality, structural, affordable and both financially and environmentally sustainable. This definition requires that any project to improve and maintain access to WASH has to be part of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), fitting the enabling environment.
In line with our strategy paper, we want to help provide the access to WASH to at least 240.000 people between 2013 and 2015 annually.
And more specifically?
We help develop and scale up good solutions for water issues, not in the least innovative ones and not only for WASH, but also for delta and water management. These (innovative, scalable) solutions can be very concrete and technological, but can also be of a more conceptual nature or focus more on policy or forms of partnerships.
Our objective is to create linkages between grassroots organizations, government and service providers. Also, we want to enhance private sector involvement and improve business development support. We support and promote knowledge sharing, preferably open source.
We assist good WASH initiatives to get better access to funding. We also aim at developing and promoting financial instruments that fit the increasingly complex (market) context. Finally, we convince investors to see commercial and/or social return on investment. WASH should not be pure charity anymore.