- Reseach project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
By Dr Ni Made Utami Dwipayanti, Dr Johanna Loehr, Dr Anindrya Nastiti, and Bronwyn Powell, COVID-19 is impacting people’s lives around the world. It has forced many to take up working from home and is affecting how international research projects are conducted, especially for projects where co-design with stakeholders is required. The International WaterCentre, Griffith University, is working on a DFAT supported Water for Women project in partnership with the University of Udayana, Institute of Technology Bandung and University of the South Pacific, researching water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-at-Work in hotels in Fiji and Indonesia. The project’s aim is to engage hotels in improving gender equity, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) WASH-at Work practices, which consider WASH beyond the hotel, including staff, their families and the wider destination. While the project’s focus will help hotels and destinations address new challenges, the current COVID-19 pandemic has created and received wide stakeholder interest; the pandemic has also created new challenges as to how to conduct the project under the current circumstances. An important part of most research projects is to engage with relevant stakeholders to more effectively understand the local context, gain input into project design, collect data, verify or test findings and inform implementation. COVID-19 induced travel restrictions and social distancing requirements impact the format such engagement can take and for a while constrained any form of in-person contact. After some delays, the project recently completed formative research data collection and analysis to understand norms and attitudes to GEDSI WASH-at-Work in Mandalika, Lombok. Mandalika is a popular destination for international and domestic tourists as an alternative to Bali due to its natural beauty, beaches, diving and surfing. Between 2015 and 2019 tourist visits doubled to over 2 million per year and are expected to grow further once travel restrictions are lifted. The project works in partnership with Mitra Samya, a local NGO, and their researchers were able to continue face-to-face data collection using online and social distancing measures. To complete the first formative research phase, a large face-to-face stakeholder engagement workshop had been planned to present and validate findings to government officials, NGOs, tourism operators and community representatives. Gaining stakeholder input in the development of inclusive WASH-at-Work tools was a critical step to inform the next phase, i.e. co-design of the project. Stakeholder input also helps to build and maintain relationships, which are important for the testing of tools and the overall implementation phase. During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, all engagement was limited to online or phone interviews. However, there are advantages to gathering all stakeholders together for a workshop, as it allows the exchange of viewpoints, experiences and information between stakeholders builds trust and confidence between different stakeholders, enables group discussion and the opportunity for the group to agree on priorities. The project team considered a stakeholder workshop critical to the project’s success and thanks to the logistics, planning skills and coordination of in-country team members and partners, a successful multi-modal workshop was held in Mandalika, Lombok, Indonesia in September 2020. [caption id="attachment_3246" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Workshop activities in Indonesia. Photo:Zoni Mitra Samya.[/caption] How to conduct a bi-lingual, multi-stakeholder workshop during a pandemic For the Inclusive WASH-at-Work project, it was important for multiple stakeholder groups from different locations to participate. These included hotel managers and community representatives from Mandalika, as well as provincial planning, tourism and health government representatives based in Central Lombok and Mataram, tourism associations located in Central Lombok, NGOs and academics located in Mataram. The research team consists of members based in Brisbane, Australia, including the project director and chief investigator, the in-country lead based in Denpasar, Bali, a researcher in Bandung, West Java and research assistants based in Lombok. Travel restrictions made it impossible for all team members to attend an in-person workshop. Many people would now have experienced online meetings, seminars and workshops, which many have argued have made access to presentations, online conferences and webinars more inclusive, eliminating the cost and time of travel. The challenge facing the project was that many local stakeholders, in particular community representatives, did not have access to such platforms, as these require a phone or computer and a reliable internet connection, which throws doubt on the inclusivity of such platforms. To ensure representation and input from all stakeholder groups, the project team decided to conduct a multi-modal workshop that would be delivered both online and in-person. Due to the online component, the initial one-day workshop was split into two half-days, to ensure participants did not become weary. The set up Local stakeholders were invited to an in-person workshop at the local site, adhering to social distancing. The Central Lombok Planning Office set aside a large room in their government building in the capital of Central Lombok, which was set up with a projector, internet connection to connect with other online participants and a microphone that connected to the online platform. Seats were spread around a large U-shape table, adhering to social distancing requirements. Several microphones were provided on the tables Project team members and other stakeholders joined the workshop from their offices or homes elsewhere in Indonesia and Australia via the online meeting platform Zoom. Facilitation The room as well as all online participants were connected via Zoom. The in-country lead facilitated the majority of the workshop online, in particular, the presentation of results delivered by project members, partly in English and then translated into Bahasa Indonesia for participants who did not speak English. Stakeholder discussions and activities are important elements of workshops. Local research assistants facilitated in-room discussion for participatory activities that required input from in-room participants only. For group discussion, all participants were spilt into three groups. Each group consisted of in-room and online participants; there were three computers providing in-room connection to the Zoom platform with three different rooms. The three rooms allowed for online participants to be involved in breakout discussion sessions. The discussion in each group was conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. Each group was led by a facilitator, either in-person or online, and was supported by one notetaker. For the presentation of group discussions, all groups returned to the main session. One of the local researchers took notes and translated key messages into English, which were posted on the Zoom chat to allow Australian colleagues to keep up with workshop discussion and respond to questions raised. [caption id="attachment_3243" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Group discussion, facilitated by in-room facilitators that also connected to participants on the Zoom platform. Photo: Zoni Mitra Samya.[/caption] Lessons learned Workshop outcomes and stakeholder feedback following the workshop were positive indicating that workshops can be conducted even with severe constraints, as long as participants show some flexibility. Using a multi-modal workshop made the workshop more inclusive and enabled the project team to connect a wide range of stakeholders even during times of travel restrictions. To facilitate a workshop that runs both online and in-person, planning and preparation are essential. For our team this included setting up and testing sound, image and internet quality in each location, having a well-planned agenda including time buffers, and detailed briefing of all facilitators. Activities need to be planned to engage in-room participants and participants joining online. In person representation and facilitation of the workshop and activities in each room are also critical so that in-person workshop attendees don’t have to listen to presenters on screen all day. Our experience shows that workshops don’t require everyone to be physically present and that they can be inclusive and successful even in difficult times. This learning is also applicable to provincial level officers and experts, who usually have a tight schedule, to join and monitor the workshop from a distance. Bringing people together allowed them to exchange their recent experiences and talk about a joint approach to moving forward and into the co-design of Inclusive WASH-at-Work guidelines. The team is becoming adept at running multi-modal workshops and will be planning more. Acknowledgements This research project is funded by the Australian Government and implemented by International WaterCentre as part of the Water for Women Fund. This blog post was written by Dr Ni Made Utami Dwipayanti, University of Udayana, Dr Anindrya Nastiti, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Dr Johanna Loehr, Bronwyn Powell and Prof. Helen Johnson, International WaterCentre, Griffith University. We would like to thank and acknowledge our colleagues in this project, Dr Dawn Gibson, Nanise Masau, Patricia Bibi, Dr Chris Fleming and Dr Wade Hadwen. [caption id="attachment_3245" align="aligncenter" width="359"] Professor Helen Johnson delivering live presentations online to workshop participants, with translation provided by online facilitators. Photo: International WaterCentre.[/caption]
19 November 2020
Did you know that 4.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation around the world?In 2020, the lucky ones amongst us have been enjoying our home toilets more than usual thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. What better chance to daydream of your next overseas visit? When you think about where to travel, will you be thinking about the quality of the hotel bathroom facilities? And what of the toilet facilities of surrounding communities? One IWC research project, Engaging corporate actors for inclusive WASH-at-work, is unpacking the real water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation in hotels and surround communities in Indonesia and Fiji. Whilst it has been hit hard by COVID-19 travel restrictions, Mandalika in Lombok (Indonesia) is tipped to be the next ‘big Bali’. It is an increasingly popular and rapidly developing tourism destination for domestic and international visitors. While tourists there enjoy excellent services, this is not necessarily the case for locals, with between 5-15% of the population in surrounding villages not having access to toilets at home. Solutions to address this gap need concerted efforts of government, communities as well as hotels who all have a role to play in delivering clean and healthy environments. To read more about this project’s work to develop Inclusive WASH-at-work approaches with hotels and other stakeholders for equitable development visit the project site. [caption id="attachment_3220" align="alignnone" width="668"] IWC's WASH project teams wish you a Happy World Toilet Day![/caption] NOTE: Banner image photo credit, Jax10289/istock via Getty Images.
By mid-2021, the International Water Centre’s Dr Regina Souter hopes that many of the communities in the Solomon Islands and Fiji will have better access to safe and secure water, something that will dramatically improve health outcomes. Progress depends not so much on infrastructure as it does on local human capacity and political will, says the WASH and IWM specialist, who applies research and teaching to improve practical water management in the Pacific Islands. One of those research projects is Pacific Community Water Management Plus (PaCWaM+), which is a partnership with Griffith University, the University of South Pacific, and Solomon Islands National University, with the CSO Plan International Australia, Live and Learn Solomon Islands, Habitat for Humanity Australia, and Habitat for Humanity Fiji, as part of the Australian Government’s Water 4 Women Fund. “At the moment, many rural communities are supported to install water systems, but largely left on their own to operate and maintain the systems, including fixing unfamiliar technical problems or rehabilitating systems after disasters,” says Regina. “The PaCWaM+ research aims to identify ways communities can be better supported so that their water systems are more resilient, providing safe drinking water and meeting the needs of all members of the community, so that health and wellbeing are maximised.” There are also difficulties for communities in urban areas in accessing safe water and sanitation. “In Honiara in the Solomon Islands, 30 per cent of the population are living in unplanned settlements and most don’t have piped water services or safe sanitation,” says Regina.
Access to clean water is seen by many as a fundamental human right, but in some parts of the developing world, women are being forced to pay for it through ‘sextortion’. Pillar Avello, Program Manager for water governance at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), says that the problem is pervasive.
On the way to down town, I always watch the construction companies extracting building materials from the Ntahangwa River, which snakes across Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, and flows into Lake Tanganyika. Workers regularly load their trucks with sand and stones that they’ve extracted from the river, which causes enormous problems for the surrounding residential areas and for the river itself. The Ntahangwa River has been permanently altered as a result of this execration activity. Today, the river flows uncontrolled in all directions. When it rains, the river breaks its bank, flowing into residential areas, destroying everything it encounters on the way. Moreover, the water has lost its quality and is now heavily polluted. Many poor surrounding residents who are not connected to the national water supply system have no choice but to the highly-polluted river water. Roger Niyonzima is a resident of Buyenzi suburb near the Ntahangwa River. “[The] Ntahangwa River has a become a danger for our life, no one can predict where it will pass, especially when it rains,” says Roger. “It enters homes and destroys everything on its passage. Many houses are often destroyed by floods coming from the river and we become displaced in our own homeland.” “The water is no longer ‘life’, as it is often said. This one is poison. I learnt at school that water has no colour, no smell but just look, our water looks like chocolate and it smells bad. We are obliged to use it because we are poor families without access to the clean water supply.”