Polygamy and punctuation

Toubabou à Bamako is a great blog for anyone interested in water and sanitation and Mali. Written by Thierry Helsens, a technical adviser to the National Water Directorate with many years of experience in Mali and West Africa, it mixes expert observations of the water and sanitation challenges here with street photography showing more of daily life in Bamako. This was my favourite recent photo from the blog, of a sign advertising the introduction of mandatory health insurance (for formally salaried workers). The continuing high level of polygamy in Mali means that the writer has had to include the extra “mes” in brackets and “femmes” in the plural to assure men with multiple wives that all of them are covered by the insurance:

From Thierry Helsens, http://mali.blogs.liberation.fr


What will the WASH sector look like in 2020?

A team from IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre has been “horizon-scanning” – trying to identify the possible trends in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector leading up to 2020. The analysis combines predictions of how key on-the-ground programme issues may develop, and anticipates their interplay with national and international political and economic changes, especially changes in approaches and levels of funding from international donors. Putting together these trends suggests four possible scenarios for 2020:

  • Scenario 1: “Two steps forward; one step back for the sector.” An increased focus on aid effectiveness means that donor funding is reduced for unstable and middle-income countries. Support continues towards poor but stable countries, and better indicators and monitoring are adopted which focus on sustainable services rather than simple coverage – but the “maintenance backlog” and limited accountability mean that sustainability is still a long way off.
  • Scenario 2: “New players in a less stable environment.” Financial and food price crises return, but traditional donors continue give similar levels of aid (perhaps because of political inertia). However the sector as whole becomes more chaotic as newer donors with differing priorities emerge more powerful from the crises.
  • Scenario 3: “Towards a post-aid WASH sector.” Political stability, worldwide economic recovery and growth – aid is reduced and focused on a handful of very poor and fragile states. The global focus shifts to water scarcity and resources management.
  • Scenario 4: “A multi-polar WASH sector.” Economic growth leads to more new donors, especially through increased regional cooperation. Financing becomes more haphazard although there are some efforts between donors to seek effective division of labour and specialisation in their activities. Read the rest of this entry »