This research focuses on Tearfund’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions implemented through the ‘Capacity Building to Improve Humanitarian Action in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene’ programme. The programme aims to increase the capacity of Tearfund Operational Teams, local partner projects and local government departments in conflict-affected and humanitarian contexts to support improved access to potable water, sanitation and public health education.
The research project aims to analyse the impact of the capacity building programme on peace-building and state-building in two countries (South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and to identify entry points to support these processes more effectively through future programming.
Key conclusions are as follows:
- The delivery of WASH services per se does not necessarily contribute to positive peace-building and state-building effects. Drivers of these processes are complex and often reflect historic legacies and systemic features not easily shaped by any one intervention. However, WASH service delivery can be hugely important in many fragile and conflict-affected countries.
- On one hand, while NGOs such as Tearfund have committed to undertake forms of conflict and context analysis – often drawing on forms of Do No Harm analysis – these are too often not put into practice. Fulfilling these commitments should be a key first step, and would help to minimise any possible risks or negative effects of programming.
- On the other hand, there is a danger that conflict and context sensitivity is interpreted in a reductionist way, to mean limiting adverse risks and the avoidance of ‘doing harm’ (to projects and communities). Even at the micro level, decisions on how programmes are implemented can have both positive and negative implications for local conflict and community dynamics.
Entry points for WASH services in relation to peace-building and state-building dynamics were identified as follows:
- Visibility: Paying particular attention to who is visible in the delivery of WASH services (and assessing the risks of INGO visibility relative to other actors and agencies)
- Collective action: Supporting strengthened capacities for collective action and collaboration between and within different groups for the production of services, as part of ‘state- and society-building’
- Inclusion: Mapping groups who are hindered from accessing or using services (either across society or as a result of a specific conflict/context and relative power relations), and identifying resulting conflict risks
- Accountability: Mapping the nature of accountability relationships on the ground between different groups for service delivery (including local actors such as religious leaders or chiefs)
- Opportunity: Identifying any entry points where broader links can be made to enable economic or other opportunities.