Exploring innovative approaches

Partnerships, finance and private sector

The past decade in Dutch WASH policy has been characterised by the exploration alternative options to reach the ambitious SDG goal 6. These include innovative finance (RVO), new partnerships (DGIS and water companies and boards) and increased public private cooperation and private sector involvement. It has been a decade of learning by doing and trying.

As a result of huge challenges in the sustainability of systems, IRC ao started the triple S approach (Sustainable Supply of Services) which affected the VLOM concept (Village Led Operation and Maintenance) substantially. In 2007, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA or DGIS) proclaimed the set-up of a sustainability clause, insisting a 10 (later 15) years guaranty on sustaining the services (by sustaining the infrastructure that was financed with ODA money). First 3 programs that were confronted with this sustainability clause were UN Habitat program Lake Victoria, UNICEF en Aqua for all-WASH program. WASH became a more business-wise oriented service sector.

In the Netherlands a game changer is found in the ‘Aid to Trade’ conceptual approach with adjacent financial grant-instruments to stimulate private sector participation. Working and investing in the public domain of water and sanitation with an inclusive business model although is even today perceived as a high risk-low revenue- volatile market sector.
Regardless the safe water market of over 2 billion consumers (waiting for safe water services with a high willingness to pay) and an emerging circular economy market in waste streams including human waste and wastewater, its nutrients and its energy potential, its protein-production potential and its contribution to recovery of scarce metals.

The Dutch-initiated Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation & Health (FINISH) Mondial programme is working towards the inclusive scale of safely managed sanitation with a market-based, multi-stakeholder approach for sustainability. FINISH Mondial is a public-private partnership led by Dutch consortium partners, WASTE, Amref Flying Doctors, Aqua for All and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (DGIS). The 6-country programme is on track to construct 2 million toilets, reaching 10 million people, recycling 175,000 tonnes of faecal sludge and creating 16 million workdays in construction alone, by 2025.

The Blue Deal partnership, between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and all the Dutch water authorities, was signed in 2018 and will run until 2030. It entails the ambitious number of 17 partnerships in 14 countries. The aim of the deal is to contribute to SDG goals 6.3 to 6.6 by helping 20 million people around the world gain access to clean, sufficient and safe water. As the website of the Dutch Water Authorities states: "By joining forces, the Dutch ministries and water authorities wish to achieve more than they can do individually. The focus of the Blue Deal is on providing help, creating business opportunities and learning from other countries."