Have you heard about SUWAS (Sustainable Urban Water and Sanitation – Integrated Processes) program? Have you known that SUWAS is one of the international training programs which enhances the comprehensive capacity building required in improving sustainable urban wash and sanitation functions?

With the objectives of supporting the planning and implementation of better and more sustainable urban wash and sanitation facilities and accommodating the rights, needs and demands of all citizens, NIRAS with the collaboration of WaterAid has been managing the international training program known as SUWAS program. The capacity development program is intended the local actors from the same geographical area to be engaged in actual collaboration and integration and to be gathered and worked together for the productive implementations. The 11-12-month long program consists of five phases including trainings abroad and in-home country and the implementation of Change projects in respective regions by candidates.

Mr. Shihab Uddin Ahmad, Country Director of WaterAid Myanmar, delivering the opening remark

The virtual event of city seminar aimed to report and share the update news on Change projects of SUWAS alumnus and candidates took place November 24, 2020 via zoom platform. It was attended by over 50 participants including responsible persons from SUWAS program and guests who are interested in Change projects development.

As the first phase of the seminar, Mr. Shihab Uddin Ahmad, a country director of WaterAid Myanmar delivered the opening remarks. Then, Mr. Claus Pederson, who is the program director, gave a welcome speech for all the guests and explained a brief introduction about the program. Similarly, the mentor of SUWAS Myanmar team, Mrs. Gunilla delivered her welcoming speech and introduced the action learning approaches of the program and purposes of the Change projects. Before the presentation of SUWAS alumnus and candidates, the updated information of SUWAS-Myanmar programs and networking was reported by a national facilitator, Daw Thet Htar Myint.

Learning from Experiences by SUWAS Alumnus and Candidates

The followings are the inspiring achievements of SUWAS Alumnus and Candidates.

Applied SUWAS Principle in Sanitation and Hygiene Development of Rural and Urban Setting

U Htun Myint, one of the SUWAS alumni from 2017 program who is currently working as a consultant in UNICEF, shares his outcomes and experiences of SUWAS program entitled "Applied SUWAS principle in sanitation and hygiene development of rural and urban Setting". What he believes is that achieving sustainable development in wash and sanitation sectors needs the modification of integrated approaches, technical design and system processes. He extended the network by participating and organizing in yearly events such as Global Hand Washing Day and World Toilet Day in order to upgrade the information to ensure the appliance of integrated approaches in implementing projects. He additionally contributed SUWAS principles that he has learnt from program by coordinating and cooperating in multisector and carried out trainings in WASH related organizations and communities. He then made an effort to practice SUWAS principles not only in urban but also in rural WASH programs.

Application of a Pro-poor Policy in Water Supply Project: A Pilot Installment Payment Program for the Connection Fee 

Presentation by U Aung Than Win, a Watson coordinator

Financial management is one of the influential factors in achieving an effectual water access management and is needed an appropriate way to handle for the sustainable success of water supply projects. U Aung Than Win, as a local Watsan coordinator in water supply project for 2000 households from 5 wards of Amarapura township, has managed an effective and equitable payment method for the water distribution operation by the application of SUWAS principles. While there are different affordable connection policies for accessing water, he decided to utilize a pilot installment payment method as he wanted to give support to a maximum number of households with a small amount of investment. Finally, the installment payment method is well-managed and is truly advantageous for the local people since most of them are low-wage earners and the project becomes a remarkable success of the SUWAS alumnus. 

Non-revenue Water Reduction and Public Toilet Construction 

Metropolitan cities like Yangon and Mandalay had been facing lack of human resource problems to provide municipal services especially in collecting tariff and reading water consumption unit. Due to understaffing in these operations, complications in water supply management such as lacking database update, meter inaccuracy, losses of non-revenue water, and corruption were encountered. Sanitation system, on the other hand, had its own challenges including low access to appropriate infrastructures, applying non-eco-friendly treatment methods, imbalance between income and expenditure and absence of user awareness. U Soe Aung, a head of Water and Sanitation Department MCDC, who is also SUWAS 2019 candidate, has been addressing these challenges by applying experiences and lessons he got from the program. Little by little, however, Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) has well managed the water supply and sanitation obstacles by implementing Mandalay smart pay project and innovative and integrated community accessible public toilet plan.

Initiation of Separate Waste Disposal System in University of Mandalay

Dr. Min Min Yee, pro-rector of East Yangon University, has come to gain an idea to promote the environmentally sustainable way of waste disposing technique as her SUWAS Change project during the days of joining the program. The compound waste disposal method that has been practiced for many years particularly in urban areas bore some disadvantages, which is why she started introducing the separate waste disposal system in Mandalay University. She organized a separate waste disposal system not only for the purpose of better management but also for the adaptation of recycling habits. In this separate waste disposal method, the stage of composting waste is beneficial as those are managed to use as organic fertilizer in the plantation of botany department. She chose this waste disposal system along with sustainable goals to lead by example in the waste management industry.

Promotion of WASH in Healthcare Facilities

The other ongoing Change project of SUWAS candidate, Dr. Ei Mon Win, is the facilitation of Occupational and Environmental Health Department to promote WASH in five townships hospitals in Ayeyarwady division and the outcomes will be achieved and seen in the year 2022. Being an assistant director of the department, Dr Ei Mon Win recognizes the fact that insufficient WASH services in healthcare facilities is one of the factors which causes the morbidity and mortality rate of under five children due to diarrhea high. While safe water, functioning hand washing facilities, latrines, hygiene and cleaning practices especially for children and disabled persons are linked into basic infection prevention, she decided to establish more reliable and innovative WASH services in hospitals. All the practices dealing with governance, solution approaches and technology which she learnt from her project are expected to be a great help to contribute sustainable service provisions in healthcare facilities. Throughout her Change project, she applies SUWAS key principles to be more sustainable by integrating approach in all WASH stakeholders, increasing synergies harmonization of Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan and initiating the development of national guideline on WASH in heatlthcare facilities.

Establishing WASH Coordination Mechanism 

Presentation by U Than Kyaw Soe, a WASH coordinator

Aiming to reach the goal of SDG targets and Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan encompassing both urban and rural areas, WASH coordination mechanism is established and it is also one of the SUWAS change projects which is implemented by a WASH coordinator of UNICEF Myanmar, U Than Kyaw Soe.

Struggles such as poor sharing on updated WASH policy and technology among WASH stakeholders, weak documentation relating with urban WASH management, lack of collaboration and cooperation among research institution, executive body and private sector, weaken in urban WASH planning process through integrated approach and other related factors are interfering with urban WASH development. For these reasons, U Than Kyaw Soe came up with a strategy for setting up a WASH Coordination Mechanism for urban WASH development by leading MCDC. With the appliance of SUWAS principles, he has initiated some of the changes and also planned to continue his project in establishing regional level WASH technical support committee as a formal committee, in strengthening the coordination mechanism into district and township levels, in identifying the WASH gaps, frameworks and in promoting the resource sharing among WASH actors like government departments and organizations

Effective and Sustainable Coordination Mechanism on Organic Waste Management in Magway city 

GRET Myanmar is operating solid waste management in Magway city with the objectives to reduce amount of waste, improve compost practices, produce natural fertilizer, advance the livelihoods of waste pickers who are working illegally in the dumping site. U Min Thein Ko, one of the SUWAS participants, facilitated as a Watsan coordinator in establishing the coordination mechanism between Magway Township Development Committee and GRET.

The work of cooperation between the local actors has created the job opportunities for the illegal waste pickers and also mapped out the survey of actual challenges and needs of these workers through participatory approaches.

He also originated the community building for young water professionals as part of his Change Project. He set up a young water professional network in order to find ways to solve the problems like poor collaborative effort between diverse generations in Myanmar water sector, poor exchanging opportunities, knowledge and information among young water generation and tackle poor facilitation among young water professionals to contribute in local and global water activities.

Idea Exchange Discussion 

Discussion among the participants

The discussion among the attendees that followed is full of noteworthy knowledge. It went smoothly by exploring more about automatic monitoring system of water meter reading applied by MCDC, solid waste segregation management both in urban and rural areas, disposal method for sanitary towels and better management of feminine hygiene. After all the attendees had energetically participated the contributed discussion, this year SUWAS city seminar was successfully come to an end.

Written by Thidar Maung Maung. 


More about SUWAS program: here.

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