TECHNICAL BACKSTOP FOR SUSTAINABILITY - NATIONAL WATER TESTING LABORATORY IN THE REPUBLIC OF MARSHALL ISLANDS
There are numerous water supply, sanitation and hygiene projects being delivered globally through development partners and donor agencies. Most of these projects have a span of three to four years to demonstrate tangible benefits. Considerable effort is also placed towards sustainability of project outcomes. But is sustainability ensured through this approach?
This presentation uses a case study from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to demonstrate how providing technical backstop after the project life of three years is contributing towards sustainability. Improved capacity for the water laboratory of RMI Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to produce reliable and accurate results for informed decision making has been supported by SPC-SOPAC and WHO since 2006. In March 2008, the United States EPA certified both the laboratory and the staff for bacterial testing.
Nevertheless, the SPC-SOPAC and WHO team have remained in contact with the laboratory staff and management to provide technical backstop including advice on testing protocols, guidance on in-house training and mock audits. The technical backstop and long-term engagement (five years so far and continuing) with the RMI counterparts is gradually building sustainability. Development partners and donor agencies should be encouraged to invest in long-term engagement solutions for sustainability.