How A Single Drop for Safe Water Came to Be
The Philippines is a middle income country and there are no widespread chronic water shortages. However many of its residents do not have access to WaSH services. Deficiencies in support for WaSH and poor access are seen both as manifestations of poverty and as factors that worsen it. WaSH can also be a factor in conflict.
A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) has identified key issues that it addresses within its programs: 1) The governance of WaSH services is fragmented throughout the government system, particularly at the local level and; 2) Community demand for improved WaSH services is often ineffective.
These two (2) issues create a relationship where limited demand from the community reinforces limited response and accountability from government. Limited demand for service delivery reduces the need for technical and financial resources, limited resources results in low WaSH service delivery, hence the community does not see the impact of good WaSH service delivery and hence does not demand improvements. In addition to this the Philippines is one of the more disaster prone countries, which puts further pressure on government WaSH service delivery.
ASDSW was formed in 2006,. It used its founders’, governing Board’s and staff’s years of experience and a culture of innovation to evolve its programmatic approach to address these issues: 1) Demand and capacity creation within poor and conflict-affected communities, making WaSH a peace and development effort; 2) Creation of structures and development planning capacity to create direction, structure and accountability within local governments and communities; 3) Developing technical capacity and governance capacity to plan, mobilize resources, implement and manage/maintain this WaSH service capacity in a manner that is resilient to disruptions; 4) Implementation of humanitarian response for WaSH in such a way as to increase the capacity of those affected and to springboard into long-term development.
ASDSW & SDCS
In 2006 A Single Drop (ASD) founder Gemma Bulos in partnership with Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST www.cawst.org) facilitated four (4) Bio-Sand Filter implementation workshops in the Philippines. Kevin Lee was part of the facilitation team and based on the demand for follow-up on this project it was decided to start ASDSW. Kevin with his background of mechanical engineering, industry and community organizing in Peace Corps took on the role of Executive Director and started building ASDSW with the first staff hiring of Meg Obligar as administration manager in November 2006. The full list of the members of the Board and staff are contained in the Annex.
Initial seed funding from A Single Drop was used during start-up and through the efforts of both Gemma and Kevin this was supplemented by a 2007 fellowship from Echoing Green (www.echoinggreen.org). At this time a business model was developed so that ASDSW operations and expansion would be funded through project implementation and independent of donations and operational grants. By using this business model ASDSW would become directly accountable to communities, government and the success of the organization is directly linked to project performance. Secondly, this money is unrestricted and allows ASDSW to invest in scaling up. As of the end of 2008 the operation of ASDSW was independent of donations with full financial autonomy by 2010 after A Single Drop was dissolved.
To further increase long term stability and sustainability ASDSW in 2011 started looking at developing a hybrid business model with both for and non-profit organizations. Single Drop Consultancy Services (SDCS) was incorporated in 2012 and has its own mission, which contributes to the shared vision with ASDSW. SDCS employs the program staff for ASDSW and is paid for implementation of ASDSW projects. This allows the funds to be used to ensure the economic resilience of both organizations and its commitment to the vision. SDCS can invest in scaling up its operation, building human resources, and building economic resilience through profit, which is not possible as a non-profit. This allows also the long-term retention of staff independent of project funding as well as investing into projects that cannot get funding from other agencies.
The two organizations have a shared vision “Empowered communities taking responsibility to improve their quality of life and managing their resources and capacities” with two different missions. ASDSW’s mission is “To strengthen the WaSH governance and technical capacities of strategic partners”, while SDCS’s mission is “To provide efficient and professional services, and generate resources to achieve its desired social impact”. This common vision and supportive missions has created a single structure with two (2) business faces hence creating a double bottom line hybrid organization. This single structure has a “double bottom line” Social Impact as the driving bottom line with Profit as the secondary and supportive bottom line.
In the first two (2) years of operation the core staff started to fine-tune the People Offering Deliverable Services (PODS) Program for developing organizations to build and implement Bio-Sand Filters.
At the end of 2007 ASDSW working with Local Governance Support Program in ARMM (LGSPA) developed a governance approach to WaSH. This project working with 31 municipalities and seven (7) NGO’s not only implemented projects to directly impact 35,000 people but was instrumental in moving ASDSW from a WaSH implementing organization to a governance-oriented organization that implements WaSH.
This watershed realization moved ASDSW to specifically target government as well as communities so that the former could actually meet their mandates. It also started an advocacy effort to shift the development paradigm from supply-driven to demand-driven development.
From this point in its history the expansion of ASDSW doubled each year in project funding and impact.
Using the WaSH planning process to develop projects with communities and LGUs resulted in resource mobilization and implementation of water systems on a larger scale. In 2011 a PhP14,000,000 project serving 16,000 residents was implemented in Buhi, Camarines Sur. Also in late 2011 in Parang Maguindanao PhP42,000,000 was mobilized to complete the installation of a city water system project as well as PhP10,000,000 for water systems in Almeria, Biliran in 2013 to 2014.
In January 2009 the Portable Microbiology Laboratory was introduced by Dr Bob Metcalf that allowed communities to monitor water quality and quantify biological contamination. This program was integrated throughout the projects. In 2011 working with the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Maguindanao all 36 municipalities were trained in water quality monitoring and a database developed to monitor the results and map water quality. Over 1500 sources were tested covering 235,000 people and resulting in source improvement and the developing of province wide WaSH mechanism (Provincial WaSH Task Force). This has also been rolled out in region 10 post-Sendong and is a major part of ASDSW’s humanitarian response since 2011.
A Province-wide WaSH Forum was done in Maguindanao in 2011 that gathered decision-makers and stakeholders in WaSH in one place further prioritizing WaSH development, leading to WaSH task forces, plans and projects in three (3) municipalities and starting the WaSH Governance Program in Sultan Kudarat.
In 2009 ASDSW partnering with Oxfam and other local organizations entered the humanitarian response industry. In 2010 the Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC) was formed with ASDSW as the first coordinating agency. The holistic response to Tropical Storm Sendong in December 2011 of the HRC and Oxfam which included high profile WaSH interventions such as designing, building and operating sludge disposal plants, working with the City Water District to repair and operate water systems, while integrating WaSH with livelihood, shelter and protection. This was followed in 2012 with large-scale response managed by ASDSW in Eastern Mindanao for Typhoon Pablo and rapid response to Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. Throughout all of these responses ASDSW has been a leading voice within the WaSH Cluster.
In 2013 ASDSW started work in the formal and non-formal education sectors within the Muslim Mindanao areas. This included not only work on WaSH facilities but also behavior change in children and parents to support good WaSH behaviors.
In addition to these development changes ASDSW was recognized locally by being one of seven finalists for the Probe TV “Millennium Development Globe Warriors” and internationally was awarded the “Katherine M Swanson Equality Award” by the Tech, Museum Tech Awards in San Jose, California in 2010.
In 2013 ASDSW reviewed its programs to ensure that its approach was still focused. The diagram below shows how the three areas of education, governance and humanitarian response converge to meet the vision,
** Strategies are outlined in ASDSW-SDCS strategic plan February 2014
ASDSW’s and SDCS’s FUTURE
ASDSW and SDCS are committed to growth to match the current national governments expansion into the WaSH sector. In 2013 ASDSW and SDCS committed resources to upgrade financial and information management systems to streamline operation and increase transparency. In 2014 a three-year strategic plan was made subtitled “a blueprint to sustained expansion”.
Programmatically this commits the two organizations to the three-pronged approach. The sanitation component within the governance program, the relatively new education side of the operation, and the incorporation of resilience reinforcement were also strengthened. A decision was also made to geographically expand to Yolanda-impacted areas in Eastern Visayas, which leverages not only past work in Eastern Samar and Biliran, early 2014 efforts in Water Quality Monitoring as well as the immediate response activities that were done with UNICEF and OXFAM.