Engaging the business sector for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in East Asia & Pacific

Photo: UNICEF WASH East Asia Gender Report in Cambodia and Myanmar

Around three billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities and 785 million are deprived of access to basic drinking water. Undeniably, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (hereafter, WASH) remains a core issue in the fight against poverty and the global effort to promote sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goal number six (SDG 6) aligns these efforts with multiple targets to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

The attainment of these goals needs contributions from all stakeholders, and a crucial one is the business sector. UNICEF has long identified the enormous untapped potential harbored by the business sector, particularly for WASH within UNICEF’s mandate of children’s rights. In this sense, UNICEF’s WASH Strategy 2016-2030 structures these efforts with an emphasis on private sector engagement to deliver sustainable services and particularly for unserved and remote populations.

GlobalCAD is now supporting UNICEF to unlock the private sector’s potential to advance the WASH agenda under SDG 6 for children in East Asia & the Pacific. The assignment will aim to capture business contributions to WASH in a number of ways.

Firstly, GlobalCAD will assess the business sector catalyzing role to WASH in East Asia & Pacific (EAP) countries using the programming approaches for UNICEF WASH. The role of business as provider of goods & services, as source of technology and innovation and as employer will be assessed.

To this purpose, GlobalCAD will develop a classification of private sector actors framed within WASH strategies. The gist is to enlist private sector actors according to their type, their potential for WASH engagements, the selected countries, etc. This sorting will facilitate UNICEF’s task of selecting appropriate private sector partners for its many WASH initiatives.

In a complementary way, GlobalCAD will assess the readiness of UNICEF Country Offices across the region to engage the private sector. This will lean on surveys, in-depth interviews and other data-collection methodologies. The readiness assessment will be presented with a color-coded matrix that includes proposed options for support.

To better reinforce UNICEF capabilities vis-à-vis private sector engagement, GlobalCAD will also develop two playbooks for options. One will guide the private sector in its interactions with UNICEF. The other will target the other side of the mirror, enhancing the capacity of UNICEF WASH practitioners to approach the private sector and secure its involvement.

Finally, GlobalCAD will set up an interactive online and offline platform as a centralized venue for the engagement in WASH of all relevant stakeholders: UNICEF officers, private sector, beneficiary communities, and beyond. Thus, this platform provides for a practical culmination of the comprehensive toolkit developed to boost UNICEF’s efforts to engage the private sector in WASH.

Other GlobalCAD’s assignments for UNICEF have focused on private sector development, including two mappings of private sector partners in Niger and in 13 countries of West & Central Africa.

Thus, the business world will join forces with UNICEF in the realization of SDG6 for children and beyond. The potential for the private sector to catalyze the WASH agenda will then be ultimately unleashed.

Jorge Alarcón
Jorge Alarcón
Jorge joined GlobalCAD through the ICEX Scholarship Programme on Business Internationalisation and works as a technical and research assistant.