NGOs Help Provide Safe Water to At-Risk Communities

More than 2.2 billion people are living without access to safe water. In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

NGOsource spoke to four NGOs that are certified in the NGOsource repository and asked each one to reflect on how COVID-19 has changed their work the past year.

Trung tam Bao ton va Phat trien Tai nguyen nuoc (Center for Water Resources, Conservation, and Development)

Since 2006, the mission of the Center for Water Resources, Conservation, and Development (WARECOD) is to promote sustainable use of Vietnam's water resources and gender equality in resource use and management.

WARECOD works in partnership with the Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN). VRN is an open forum attracting non-governmental organizations, researchers, scholars, and staff with a common interest in river protection and sustainable development in Vietnam.

WARECOD made strides to adapt its work through the COVID-19 pandemic. Though physical distancing caused project delays, the organization remained in contact with partners and the community to maintain momentum and relationships.

On a larger scale, the pandemic highlighted the importance of environmental health to human lives and ecosystems. As a result, WARECOD enhanced its technological capacity to meet the growing interest in the organization's work.

The equivalency determination (ED) certification from NGOsource allowed WARECOD to gain credibility in the sector, including press mentions and seminars. The ED certification helped the organization increase WARECOD's network and trust within community organizations and local authorities.

Funding received due to the ED certified status also allowed the organization to pursue more extensive research projects, such as independent monitoring, criticism, and water resources advocacy.

Stichting IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Founded in 1957 and based in the Netherlands, Stichting IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (IHE Delft) is the world's largest graduate water education facility, offering M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in partnership with other universities. Through capacity development, IHE Delft aims to make a tangible contribution to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals in which water is critical. The institute's mission is to strengthen capacity in the water sector to achieve global sustainable development.

Distance learning has always been a part of IHE Delft's curriculum, so moving students online was an easy transition during the onset of the pandemic. Although field research is paused due to travel restrictions, labs have continued to allow M.Sc. and Ph.D. fellows research on a wide range of water issues.

COVID-19 shifted more of the institute's courses online. Due to its ED certification with NGOsource, an e-learning platform is currently in the final stages of launching with the organization's funding. The funding also helped advance research on innovative sanitation solutions, creating new educational programs for professionals working in the sector. The funding allowed for developing partnerships with universities in the Global South to support their sanitation curricula, creating the first global sanitation graduate school and establishing a state-of-the-art fecal sludge management lab.

Water Integrity Network Association, e.V.

Based in Berlin and founded in 2006, the Water Integrity Network (WIN) responds to concerns among water and anti-corruption stakeholders regarding the impact of corruption in the water sector. These are the organization's guiding principles:

  • Pro-poor, for equity
  • Through active multi-stakeholder coalitions
  • Evidence-based, with research as a pillar
  • Practical and action-oriented.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected WIN's workflow as it affected people around the world. Though projects were delayed, and missions and events were canceled, the organization learned how to interact with its network in new ways.

The funds WIN received because of its ED certification helped it research and gather evidence on corruption and integrity issues in sectors most often left behind in mainstream water sector research and policymaking. In Kenya and Benin, WIN is engaging directly with local stakeholders to monitor public finances or assess integrity risks in local water service provision. The also made it possible for WIN to directly support high-level policymakers and regulators to incorporate integrity references and obligations into regulatory guidelines.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Institute

The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Institute (WASH Institute) was founded in India in 2008. Its mission is to facilitate skilled professionals in the water and sanitation sector with a community perspective.

The onset of COVID forced the WASH Institute to adapt its work to the "new normal." By transitioning the organization's staff to remote work, the organization continued its operations. As part of its COVID-19 relief activities, the WASH Institute provided food packets to sanitation workers and vulnerable populations, including migrant laborers, people with disabilities, and the elderly. It also provided more than 4,000 hygiene and PPE kits to frontline sanitation workers and installed handwashing stations at key public places, including primary healthcare centers, schools, and markets.

The ED certification through NGOsource allowed the organization to receive uninterrupted funding, so it could continue its invaluable work. Additionally, the funding allows the WASH Institute to provide technical assistance to two ministries: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. This support contributed to achieving open defecation–free (ODF) status across the country, which also created wider visibility and recognition among stakeholders.