Typically, a water service provider in the developing world will have multiple development partners (DPs). These can include charitable foundations, aid agencies, non-profits (e.g., ROCKBlue), commercial banks and development financial institutions (e.g., World Bank). Unfortunately, coordination with the different DP’s does not always happen, resulting in inefficiencies, gaps in support and even overlap of support.
As part of ROCKBlue’s assistance with its utility partners, we help them to organize and synergize support from others.
A case in point is with the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company (LWSC) of Zambia that serves up to 3 million people. Recently ROCKBlue helped them prepare and conduct a Partners Conference which included 11 DPs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank, European Investment Bank, Center for Disease Control, UNICEF, as well as German and Japanese aid agencies. This resulted in greater synergy amongst the partners and fundraising to help with some of the financial gaps associated with Covid-19 impacts on the utility.
The above example is a microcosm of similar work for all our utility partners in five countries. With limited global funding and increasing needs, made more dramatic due to Covid-19, this activity of ROCKBlue is occupying more and more of our time. We are also advocating, on behalf of our utility partners, for quicker access to support from DP’s (e.g., financial).
One country where this is particularly critical is Zimbabwe which has suffered the cascading impacts of decades of economic sanctions on the country, deteriorating infrastructure, climate change, exodus of talent, the recent and severe drought, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Here we are actively communicating with the DPs to garner their support before the situation in the country worsens in August and September.
The role of ROCKBlue as a coordinator becomes increasingly important as the pandemic worsens. The in-kind and financial support that has been given to us is what makes it possible for ROCKBlue to provide this critical support.