Ecorys supports the Solomon Islands' Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (RWASH) Conference

Between 23rd October and 10th November 2017, Ecorys’ team of Key Experts supported the Solomon Island Government’s RWASH conference, held in the capital Honiara. This conference was part of the Ecorys-led Technical Assistance (TA) project, part of the European Commission-funded “Programme of Improving Governance and Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) for Rural People”. The conference gathered together rural health workers and Environmental Health Division (EHD) staff from across the nine provinces of the Solomon Islands.  The capacity building activities and workshops centred around the issues faced by RWASH staff and gathered insight from both central and field staff to inform strategic planning, governance and future programmes for RWASH in the country.

The TA project, which commenced in January 2016, is focused on improving the living conditions of the rural population of the Solomon Islands through the implementation of the national Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (RWASH) policy, improve governance and quality of service delivery in the RWASH sub-sector in the context of climate. It aims to enable a healthier and safer environment in households, schools and clinics, particularly for women and children, reducing the impact of water borne diseases and hygiene-related illnesses in rural communities.  The team provided by Ecorys are experts in RWASH engineering, governance and community engagement. From October 2017 Sanitation and Hygiene Advisor, John Odolon joined the team.

The conference objectives were: to improve information management, including its recording, reporting and use; to examine and improve strategic planning; and to review and develop mechanisms and structures to increase service delivery. It represented an opportunity for RWASH experts, EHD and Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) HQ staff and Provincial RWASH staff to meet and communicate with each other on their shared work areas. The first week involved a variety of RWASH workshops, the second focused on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training, whilst the third week included training on Project Management by the Institute for Public Administration Management.

The National and Provincial RWASH teams led the discussions on accelerating RWASH implementation, which will be driven by optimising technology, using standard designs for water systems and prioritising simple systems. Engineering Expert Peter Wopereis presented the newly designed ‘Solomon Mark 5’ hand pump and provided instructions on the construction process. The conference also addressed project service delivery, which will be improved by strengthening the coordination and relationship of provincial RWASH teams.

RWASH Staff

Figure 1: The Conference included sessions led by both central and provincial RWASH staff.

Furthermore, the conference focused on raising awareness for sanitation marketing by holding marketing events in the provinces to promote sales of Sato Pan and toilet materials, and guide communities on the costs of different types of toilets.

Alongside this, the Provincial RWASH teams continued their work of developing RWASH Provincial plans, providing support for community-led total sanitation implementation and regularly reporting to EHD. The national RWASH team led a focus discussion on capacity development, which identified the needs of staff to enable them to improve service delivery and improve governance in the sector.

The conference introduced the recently designed M&E system for the country, designed by a team of experts including Ecorys’ Amy Weaving. The conference saw the planning of a large Access Survey for the M&E system in 2018, where provinces will implement surveys in a sample of communities according to the newly established RWASH indicators.. In the field of Community Engagement (CE), expert Ross Kidd, along with MHMS CE staff, led sessions covering the mainstreaming of  CE across all RWASH.. This will be done through further workshops on CE skills for RWASH staff and NGO field workers, and a system will be developed for post-construction monitoring of community maintenance.

The later conference sessions built awareness of the Strategic Plan, contract management and funding for outsourced RWASH projects, and addressed the need of support for RWASH policy, led by Governance Advisor Piter Visser.

We wish our TA team and all EHD staff the best of luck in the coming year of RWASH implementation. For more information on the RWASH program, please contact Eleanor Harvie (Project Manager), or alternatively read about the recent trip to the Solomon Islands by Ecorys UK Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser, Amy Weaving.