Dear community members, following the webinar 'How South-South Cooperation contributes to achieving the SDG 6 of ensuring access of all to clean water and sanitation?​'​, held on 24 May 2018, we recieved a number of great questions and comments for our panellists. We have now compiled responses to those questions below, and wanted to provide a space to raise your thoughts from the webinar. 

Please also see the attachement "Advancing the SDG agenda through South-South Cooperation: A Trilateral South-South Cooperation initiative between Brazil, Ethiopia and UNICEF, aimed at strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Ethiopia" to find more information abouth SSC and WASH!  

Question: What is the mechanism for measuring results: the number of dialogues, exchanges etc (more input/output oriented) or are there indicators for measuring change and even impact?

Response from Anna Maria Graziano (ABC):

With regards to how results are monitored and measured, this is something that ABC is seeking to improve continuously, not only in the context of the Trilateral South-South Cooperation with UNICEF, but within the scope of the overall South-South Cooperation agenda of the Brazilian Government. On this regard ABC is closely following the global discussions leading up to the BAPA+40 conference next year, as to evaluate how SSC can best support the implementation of the SDG agenda and how we can improve the way we measure SSC. On this regard, it is important to recognize the particularities of SSC (as compared to more traditional North-South cooperation), which requires a somewhat different approach to M&E and where qualitative indicators and measurements must be taken into consideration.

Given the expertise that UNICEF has in M&E, the organization is certainly a key strategic ally for the Brazilian Government also in these discussions. As part of our partnership around Trilateral South-South Cooperation for child rights, and with the efforts to take stock on progress so far and draw out lessons learned, UNICEF Brazil conducted a small assessment in 2016, which included interviews of UNICEF colleagues and government counterparts in partner countries as well as in Brazil. Throughout this assessment, it became clear that the role of UNICEF in SSC, in Brazil, is to a large extent that of a facilitator. Whereas UNICEF colleagues work with the government of a given partner country to help define the demand, UNICEF Brazil works very closely together with ABC in the sense of receiving the demands, analyzing how to best respond and mobilize key technical counterparts.  However, given the close-to universal presence of UNICEF across the globe and its close relationship to partner Governments, the assessment also identified a central role of UNICEF for follow up, monitoring and evaluation of SSC initiatives. In that sense, UNICEF serves as a link between inputs and outputs and strategic provider of technical support throughout the project cycle in the sense of contributing to a results-oriented approach to planning, programming and evaluation, by also helping to link activities of a given TSSC initiative to national plans of actions and corresponding UNICEF Country Programme results frameworks.

The TSSC partnership of ABC and UNICEF is currently being operationalized through the usage of our joint Guidelines for Trilateral South-South Cooperation (to be found here), which we developed jointly in 2015-16. These guidelines builds on the Brazilian approach and operational model for South-South Cooperation as well as the programme norms and principles of UNICEF and the larger SDG agenda. As such, these guidelines sets the framework around which all trilateral south-south cooperation initiatives of ABC and UNICEF are organized and implemented. Applying these guidelines helps us better understand the change process of a TSSC initiative, from the very outset of a cooperation process (i.e. the request for cooperation), throughout the actual design, planning and implementation of a given initiative. and it also makes it easier to track the correlation between a given initiative and its wider effects at the outcome/impact level. However, whereas the broader outcomes and the impact that a TSSC initiative contributes to need to be assessed on a longer-term basis, what we are able to monitor and measure within the project-cycle are indeed more restricted to the output level. Yet, in response to the recommendations coming out of the 2016 assessment, and to improve programme quality, our understanding of the change process also at the higher and more strategic level, as well as to demonstrate and communicate results in a more concrete and coherent fashion, we (ABC and UNICEF) are currently working on a Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation framework for our TSSC programme. The expectations are that we will advance on this framework throughout the forthcoming months.

Question: How can we engage with Brazilian Cooperation Agency? In Angola we are looking to start Condominial Sanitation with support of Brazilian company CAESB. It would be great once founds are in place to connect all.

Response from Anna Maria Graziano (ABC): 

Thank you for your question, and for your interest. To engage with ABC the first step is for UNICEF and the Angolan Government's representatives to contact the Brazilian Embassy in Luanda and explain to them what is the demand for South-South Cooperation (SSC) in the Sanitation area or any other sector. It is useful  to provide some background information about the sector,  including  the main challenges to be addressed, the national priorities for the sector, the main Government partners involved and their roles, as well as potential funding resources for a SSC initiative. Please also inform UNICEF Brazil on such discussions as to ensure that we are all aware in advance, which in turn will contribute to a more timely response from our end. The Brazilian Embassy will officially forward the information to ABC which, in turn, will assess the demand and identify possible Brazilian Institutions (at the national and/or subnational level) with the required expertise to attend the demand, together with UNICEF Brazil.  I recommend to use the Brazil – UNICEF Trilateral South-South Cooperation Guidelines to get more information about the communication flow and the templates that should be used to provide the required information. The guidelines can be accessed either through the UNICEF Brazil website or shared by the colleagues in the UNICEF Brazil country office. 

Question: Great example from ARCE with regulatory department in the lead.​ Question: Are Brazilian universities and academia involved? What is their role? What is the professional sanitation, sewer/treatment capacity in Brazil? 

Response Mário Augusto Parente Monteiro (ARCE):

There is a little involvement of universities in the design and enforcement of regulatory policies within the Brazilian WSS sector. Traditionally, the branch of the Brazilian academia that is most closely related to this sector and its needs is that of engineering, which aims to deal with/propose solutions to the technical aspects of water supply and sewerage services. The economic regulation per se is a field that has gained attention only recently. Those who are directly involved with these questions (economic regulation and institutional management of WSS sector) got their knowledge from training (provided by foreign and some national entities) as well as from hired consultants. Obviously, during these past years, the accumulated experience has allowed us to develop our own solutions and to identify the best paths forward.

Thanks to the existence of many undergraduate courses in engineering (especially civil and environmental engineering), Brazil counts on a good amount of skilled professionals to run water supply and sewer systems. However, on other hand, in recent years, the demand for professionals with managerial skills has grown, given the greater requirements of efficiency and quality in these services. This is one of the greatest challenges that we are currently facing. 

Question: Thanks ARCE for the great presentation. What kind of tools and/or mechanism are you using to exchange experience and knowledge among key actors (goverment officials, Unicef, UNC, and others), any lessons learned? What works and what doesn't work?​

Response from Mário Augusto Parente Monteiro (ARCE): 

We have held workshops, in which we have had the opportunity of presenting the formal aspects of our institutional and regulatory framework, discussing the existing barriers and possibilities to the development of the WSS sector in Brazil and Ethiopia as well as the different strategies that we have applied throughout our experience, including both successful and not so successful experiences. One of our goals within the cooperation with Ethiopia has been to encourage reflection about the needs of the Ethiopian Government and highlight key steps to be taken (as to save time and efforts). It is crucially important, however, to be clear on the fact that, ultimately, it will be their decisions, their choices. So, in other words, we focus on engaging our partners in the discussions of practical aspects related to the construction of an institutional and regulatory environment suited to the Ethiopian reality and needs.

Off course, there are barriers. The distance between the economic and political features of our respective realities brings challenges in terms of understanding the different standpoints of those involved in the cooperation. The timing of the governmental actions and decisions, in Brazil and Ethiopia, is another issue that needs to be taken into account. Yet, despite all the existing barriers and challanges, I believe that we have managed to build strong relationships based on mutual trust, transparency and professional respect, all of which are very important assets to foster forthcoming advances.

What doesn’t work?

The sometime long gaps in time between technical visits to Ethiopia pose challenges to implementation in the sense that sometimes we miss out on the key momentum that these visits generate. If we could make better use of such momentum, I believe we could take more significant steps forward. The cooperation could also benefit from a more detailed and incisive agenda, as to guide those involved. 

Comment: This is very important the timeframe short, media and long term to see any impact. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts from the webinar and once again, thank you to all of our panellists and the audience attending the webinar! 

To read a short summary of the webinar see this blog post