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New impact valuation techniques in Antananarivo

At WSUP, we believe that our work has a wide range of impacts. Although many of these are logically straightforward, they can be very difficult to value in practice. How do you measure the wider impact on health, the economy and general wellbeing associated with providing a person with clean water?

Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM) is a valuation method developed by PwC (for more information, click here). Using welfare economic techniques, this assigns a dollar value to a wide range of social, environmental, economic and tax impacts. WSUP are trialling the TIMM approach to assess the ultimate impact of our work in Madagascar. This is a first for the WASH sector.

In November 2015, I travelled to Antananarivo in Madagascar to evaluate the impact of three WSUP-supported projects there. In conjunction with PwC, impact pathways had been developed which map project outputs to ultimate impacts on local health, the economy and general wellbeing. The aim of my trip was to collect quantitative data to support the theories put forward in the impact pathways. I also spoke with stakeholders, people involved in project management and local residents. I have included some of their comments below, along with brief project descriptions.

Madagascar is a beautiful, complex country with incredibly friendly and welcoming people. Minimum wage there is around £20 per month, with many unofficial workers bringing home less than that. Water and sanitation is a serious issue – diarrhoeal disease is the second most lethal illness among children under the age of 5.

Project 1: Water kiosks and laundry blocks

We were interested in valuing the health and economic impacts of the several hundred facilities built in the last few years. All facilities are locally run by Water User Associations (WUAs) operating under formal delegated management agreements with the municipality. That some WUAs have saved enough to invest in new facilities – on top of paying recurring operational and maintenance costs – demonstrates the sustainability of this approach. I spoke with facility attendants and locals running small water delivery and laundry businesses to gauge the real impact of the infrastructure on their quality of life. Locals washing clothes in the laundry blocks described a 3 x increase in productivity, as well as improved hygiene conditions.

Project 2: Community-led RF2 cleaning initiatives and associated capacity building

RF2s are community-based platforms that were set up and formalised to provide local environmental sanitation services including canal cleaning and solid waste management. They are locally run with ongoing funding from local households, businesses and the WUAs.

Developed by the Municipal Hygiene Bureau (BMH) in Antananarivo, WSUP and CARE, the initiative now covers almost all of the Central Urban Area of the city, as well as some surrounding peri-urban communes. Conversations with the director at BMH revealed how well-received the scheme has been, highlighting support within government to replicate it nationally. On a local level, representatives in several areas described the model’s success in raising the required revenue sustainably and the positive effect this has had on both the cleanliness of the local area and the behaviour of local residents.

Work reducing Non-Revenue Water losses for local utility

WSUP are working with the local utility to help them reduce levels of non-revenue water – water the utility produces for which no revenue is gained, either because of physical losses (eg, leaking pipes) or commercial losses (eg, incorrect billing or illegal connections). Water balances show a reduction in non-revenue water of more than 20% since the start of the project, helping the utility make up the big difference in supply and demand that they currently face.

Looking forward

At the end of my trip, I squeezed in a weekend in Andasibe National Park to see lemurs, chameleons and other exotic species – like the incredible leaf-tailed gecko. I was blown away – it’s no coincidence that on my trip home I shared a flight with a big group of wildlife videographers working for Netflix.

Back in London, PwC are now working to incorporate our data, sector research and various statistical techniques to model the value of these projects. We look forward to the results and insights following this process, which will allow us to better understand our work and improve our strategies to provide low-income urban residents with the basic water and sanitation services they need.

Blog by Jonathan Stokes: Jonathan is WSUP's Data Analysis Officer, working as part of the Evaluation, Research and Learning team in our London office.

This post is a part of the April 2016 series on Inclusive Businesses and Sanitation. View the whole series for more business examples, research and insights on sustainable sanitation solutions.