Lessons learned from 5 years

So, after five years of working with the urban poor in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali and Mozambique, the ACF programme is almost coming to a close.

This final post is a quick summary on the lessons we have learnt as a result of the programme. Summaries of the activities done and successes achieved can be found on the individual project area pages.

  1. Viable tariffs are a key to success: a tariff must be both affordable to the consumer and sustainable for the service provider. This is particularly a challenge in sanitation, where a lack of understanding of the purpose of tariffs and a lack of clear responsibility for the services.
  2. Social and cultural influences must be considered and worked with: these include tenancy issues and cartels among many others and are generally things which either change very slowly or cannot be controlled by the project implementation, so understanding is key.
  3. Hybrid management can be effective: a combination of private management and local groups managing a project can ensure the necessary buy-in from the community alongside appropriate commercial priorities to ensure sustainability. The relationship needs to be drawn carefully in contractual agreements.
  4. Demonstration of services can sow a seed: to bring private service providers in, a pilot needs to be demonstrated, in order to show them the potential of an idea and the opportunity for scaling and mainstreaming it in their work.
  5. Consumers need to be able to demand services for themselves: development of better consumer feedback mechanisms is a win-win situation, enabling the poor to demand improvements to the services they receive and the company to improve their business.
  6. Motivation can come through peers: investing in exposing decision-makers to companies with innovative models and other ways of expanding the frontiers of business is much more likely to result in uptake than showing them on paper.
  7. Inclusivity needs to be included in planning from the outset: whether women’s needs or the disabled, disadvantaged groups need to be incorporated into planning and execution to ensure they are not left behind by the project.
  8. Encourage pro-poor commitment early on: low income customers must be mainstreamed as they are often not highly valued as customers due to many misconceptions.
  9. Long-term change can only be achieved through strengthened institutions: WSUP will not be here forever, so long-term improvements can only be achieved through strengthening the companies and institutions mandated for service provision.
  10. Advocacy with senior decision-makers for policy change is key: the policy environment must encourage pro-poor services in order for the company to be motivated. Persistence here may be required as the poor are often marginalised in policy.

You can read more in the final report.

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