dws-irc50-poster-blog2-770pxPoor water & sanitation facilities is a wicked problem to solve. On the occasion of their 50th anniversary the Dutch-based think-tank on WASH-issues, IRC Wash, organises a symposium on building stronger systems to deliver safe and sustainable WASH services for everyone.

The symposium takes place in the Hague, the Netherlands from 12 – 14 March. The programme is loaded with sessions to share experiences and build forward on a joined agenda

In his blog announcing the anniversary symposium, CEO Patrick Moriarty of IRC Wash used the image of a camel with a soft drink (see top photo) and points out the bottle is there as part of a system that delivers.

dws-irc50-moriarty-wash-service-nerd-350px IRC CEO Patrick Moriarty at the Stockholm World Water Week challenging everybody to join him as a 'wash system nerd'.

Supply systems
‘Travel as far as you like up any road’, Moriarty writes in his blog, "track or river pretty much anywhere in the world, and the chances are you’ll find someone willing to sell you a fizzy drink that’s bad for you."

"Behind that drink is a system, or a collection of systems. Systems for production, systems for distribution, formal and informal. All privately owned and operated", he adds and invites the world the come to The Hague to talk about the system to deliver a non-fizzy, non-sugary, non-alcoholic drink. "The system we have is a human right to".

Improving performance
Universal provision of safe water and sanitation are public services but in many places in the world water authorities are unable to provide these services. And private initiatives lack the ability to charge the full price to cover the costs for the reliable delivery of drinking water and clean toilets.

The symposium will therefore focus on a two-track approach. One track that focusses on programmes that are geared towards changes at the level of the utility itself to improve its performance.

A second track consists of measures to strengthen the enabling environment for utilities, such as reviewing tariff regulations, institutional reforms and benchmark performances.

dws-irc50-poster-finance-350px Finding the right financial mix (tariffs-taxes-transfers) will be a key thematic area at the symposium.

Where the first track is needed to make changes in the performance of the utility, the second track is needed to sustain and scale up the changes.

Both tracks are also needed to attract finance to the utilities, that allows them then to further expand and improve services.

Completely unacceptable
Moriarty points out in his blog that a supply system for WASH is more difficult than for fizzy drinks, where the market can be left to get on with things. "Pricing the product at a point where, let’s say, only 50 percent of the population could afford, would be seen as completely unacceptable."

According to Moriarty, public finance is an essential part of the financial mix, whether it is called subsidy or simply see it as the state acting as a client on behalf of poorer users.

The people expected to attend the symposium are a cross section of the WASH system: the private sector, non-governmental organisations, various flavours of donors, and local and national government.

See the full programme: IRC 50, all systems go or read the full blog by IRC’s chief executive officer Patrick Moriarty.

Read also on this website
IRC Ghana participates in SDG Action Awards with multi stakeholder WASH service project, 6 February 2019
Patrick Moriarty gives TED talk on building water systems that deliver 24/7, 13 March 2017
Stockholm World Water Week 2016: Implementation of SDG6 on water gets into gear, 30 August 2016
Expertise: Water for all

More information
IRC Wash
The Hague, the Netherlands
+31 70 304 4000

Looking back on 50 years of IRC: Interview with retired communication director Dick de Jong.