IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre
Akvo Foundation; Rural Water Supply Network; UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI; Water and Sanitation for Africa; Water and Sanitation Program; Water For People; Water Integrity Network and WaterAid
(This event was webcasted live. Visit the SIWI video Hub for more veiwing and sharing options!)
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become increasingly pervasive in recent years across all sectors. In the water sector, the innovation of numerous low cost applications embracing the use of mobile phones, social media sites, e-learning platforms, user-friendly cameras and geo-referencing maps, has changed the way water is governed and increased transparency and integrity in the sector.
ICT is quickly changing relationships between stakeholders, facilitating the measurement and monitoring of interventions and enabling practitioners at a local level to use evidence to guide decision making and corrective actions. Despite this promising outlook, several challenges exist to use the full potential of ICT. Is there sufficient knowledge to apply the new technologies effectively? What has worked and how? Who has access to the information and are incentives in place for using information to improve services? What are the associated costs? Are we being diverted by the allure of emerging technologies from the real issues of data integrity and the improvement of services?
These questions, and more, will be addressed in the seminar at World Water Week in Stockholm 2013.
09:00 Welcome. Mr. Ton Schouten, IRC
09:15 Opening Keynote. Ms. Jaehyang So, WSP, and Mr. Ned Breslin, Water For People
09:30 Sub-topic Keynote: Open data and accountability. Mr. Thomas Bjelkeman-Petterson, Akvo Foundation
09:40 Case Presentation: Why Open UN-Habitat Had to Happen? Mr. Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat
09:50 Case Presentation: The Challenges with Open Data. Mr. Ravi Narayanan, Argyham Foundation, India
10:00 Panel Discussion
10:15 Sub-topic Keynote: Mobile Participation. Mr. Johan Hellström, University of Stockholm
10:25 Case Presentation: MajiVoice in Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Stephen Mbugua, Nairobi Water, Kenya
10:35 Case Presentation: Video Volunteers. Mr. Arundathi Vishwanath and Ms. Margaret Joeji, India
10:45 Plenary discussion
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Sub-topic Keynote: Use of Data. Mr. Vincent Casey, WaterAid
11:40 Case Presentation: Informing Mobilisation, Planning and Resource Allocation in Rural Ethiopia. Dr. Abera Endeshaw, WaterAid
11:50 Case Presentation: Rural Piped Water Schemes Monitoring in Senegal, Mali, Benin and Niger: Mwater an Example of Mobile to Web Platform. Mr. Fadel Ndaw, WSP
12:00 Plenary discussion
12:20 Synthesis. Mr. John Sauer, Water For People, and Mr. Nick Dickinson, IRC
The scene of the seminar was set by Jae So, manager of the Water And Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank and Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People (WFP. Both emphasized that only a tip of the full potential of ICT is understood and that data will change how organisations behave culturally.
The sub-topic of ‘open data and accountability’ was introduced by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson of Akvo who believes that open and big data will be transformative in development cooperation: “one data point can change the lives of a whole village”. Pontus Westerberg of UN-Habitat presented ‘Open UN-Habitat’, a web based platform that shows how UN-Habitat spends its project funding. 50% of the UN-Habitat portfolio is now on line. Ravi Narayanan Argyham presented how the foundation Project Watch attempts to engage the wider public in the story of water and sanitation.
From the research of Johan Hellström, PhD student at the University of Stockholm it becomes clear that mobile phone subscriptions have exploded but that there is less evidence that this has increased participation of citizens. People do not know about services and the incentives to participate are low. In fact 80% of ICT for development fails. Maji Voice was presented by Stephen Mbugua, commercial director of Nairobi Water. Maji Voice is an internet based platform to help customers voice critical issues. “It is the best thing that has happened to increase the quality of service provision”. Arundathi Vishwanath and Margret Joeji from India presented Video Volunteers to support communities in using video to raise issues to (local) government. The videos show the human side of water and sanitation.
Vincent Casey, Technical Support Manager of WaterAid kicked off by stating: “despite good efforts we have not yet managed to make the link between the technology and the use of data for decision making”. Abera Endeshaw of WaterAid Ethiopia presented a government-led monitoring system using maps to inform local planning and resource allocation in rural Ethiopia. Fadel Ndaw, Senior Regional Water and Sanitation Specialist of WSP made the case for ‘mwater’ monitoring of rural piped water schemes in Senegal, Mali, Benin and Niger. Mwater consists of an inventory and cartography service and enables management of water supply schemes by providing feedback data to the operators of the schemes.
The synthesis was made by John Sauer of Water For People and Nick Dickinson of IRC. ICT is about people; people who get used to technologies in a gradual way; people who only use data they understand; people who approach data as a means for communication not for engineering. ICT also is about services; services to improve performance of service delivery; services with a commitment to act; services for decision making; services that trigger change management and innovation: services that need mechanisms for data use. In short: KISS - Keep it to Services Sweetie.