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, aimed to discuss how South-South Cooperation (SSC) has contributed to achieving the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), focused on ensuring decent access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for all.

The webinar was made possible by the combined efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

Panellists included: Samuel Godfrey (WASH Chief, Water Supply Section, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Anna Maria Graziano (Project Manager, The Brazilian Cooperation Agency, ABC) and Mário Augusto Parente Monteiro (State Regulation Agency of Ceará, Brazil), and Irene Amongin (WASH Specialist, Water and Sanitation Section, UNICEF NYHQ). Ian Thorpe (Chief, Learning and Knowledge Exchange Unit, UNICEF, NYHQ) moderated the event.


The recording is available here and the presentation here.


How can South-South Cooperation contribute to achieving SDG 6.1 and 6.2?

Samuel Godfrey opened the webinar with a discussion of Ethiopia’s One Wash National Programme, a programme focused on developing the country’s infrastructure in accordance with SDG 6.1 and 6.2, reaching 18 million Ethiopians with water and sanitation services.

In the period of 2016 and 2017, approximately 475 million dollars were spent on the WASH sector, equivalent to around 0,71% of the country’s GDP – however, as One Wash National Programme develops, it is expected that this amount will rise to 4,8% of the GDP. The potential financing streams for achieving these SDGs heavily rely on the three T’s: Taxes, Tariffs and Transfers.

Even though in most developed countries concerned with meeting the criteria for SDG 6.1 and 6.2 a very high percentage of what is coming into WASH is coming from tariffs, this is not the case for Ethiopia, where a very low percentage of financing for WASH programmes comes from this sector.


The main areas of revenue for the programme within Ethiopia comes from:

1)      Public-private partnerships

2)      Guarantees (international private companies investing in Ethiopia through revenue guarantee schemes)

3)      Blended financing (mixing loans and grants with loans for infrastructure)

4)      Domestic commercial financing

5)      South-South Cooperation (both in financial aspects and in the flow of technical expertise into the country).


An example of South-South cooperation within Ethiopia is the partnership between the country and Brazil focused on the WASH sector, facilitated by UNICEF, in existence since 2015. Some key aspects of this experience of South-South cooperation for WASH are:

1)      Capacity development, made possible by the exchange of knowledge between specialists from both countries.

2)      The transfer of technology, as is the case of the transfer of Brazil’s urban sanitation technology to Ethiopia.

3)      Knowledge sharing, on topics like regulation and sector reform.

4)      Cost-sharing principles, as verified by the in-kind contributions presented by Brazil to Ethiopia.

Some key benefits of this approach are knowledge exchange between specialists, enabling skill transfers, and consequently helping countries leapfrog their process of development, aside from being more cost-effective than traditional programming.

Since 2015, the WASH programme in Ethiopia has worked specifically with the sector of urban sanitation – by developing low-cost housing and encouraging the formalisation of informal housing sectors, specifically in areas of precarious urban sanitation.


Trilateral Cooperation: The Brazilian Experience

Anna Maria Graziano introduced the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, a branch of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry responsible for coordinating, executing and evaluating Brazil’s international and humanitarian cooperation, acting in four modalities: bilateral, trilateral, regional, and decentralised.

Since 2009, the institution began conducting structured Trilateral Cooperation programmes with key partners, such as developed countries and international organisations. For the Brazilian government, the trilateral cooperation approach acts as a complementary force to the more widespread bilateral approach.

For Brazil, trilateral cooperation bases itself on South-South cooperation principles, involving active participation of all actors throughout the projects. Two main aspects of this approach were highlighted:

·         The joint implementation of actors (the preparation of the project, the mission itself, the evaluation and follow up actions should count with the expertise of all the partners);

·         Shared governance (all decisions are made together by the involved actors, ensuring a concrete way to safeguard horizontality).


To better understand the main aspects of trilateral cooperation, a comparison with the traditional approach to cooperation was presented:

·         In the case of triangular cooperation, there are fixed roles for the actors involved – a 1st provider, a 2nd provider, and a recipient State.

·         On the other hand, trilateral cooperation functions in a flexible manner, considering that the experience should be enriching to all partners.

·         Understanding that partner countries are not recipient countries, highlighting the mutual benefits that this process can provide to all actors involved.

·         Focusing not only on the results, but also on the process. 

Furthermore, in terms of objectives, trilateral cooperation can complement the efforts of bilateral South-South cooperation, while also contributing to enhance global partnerships to develop capacity development through knowledge sharing experiences, while fostering autonomy of all the actors involved. By working with local government institutions, political insights can be better captured, enhancing global partnerships for achieving SDG 17, to “leave no one behind”.


Brazil-Ethiopia-UNICEF Cooperation project in Sanitation

To showcase Brazil’s actions in Ethiopia, Mário Augusto Monteiro presented ARCE’s (State Regulation Agency of Ceará, Brazil) initiatives in sharing Brazil’s experience in the elaboration, implementation, and evaluation of public services in WASH.  Due to their experience with regulating sanitation services, ARCE was invited to assist in the trilateral cooperation with Ethiopia.

The main goal of the project is to share expertise in water supply and sanitation services with a country that has some similarities with Brazil, ​find out more about the project here. This is especially relevant considering the state of Ceará is home to a large poor population that faces difficulties in paying for water supply services. The institutional framework collected by ARCE to assess its own context was very useful to Ethiopia, given the social similarities that exist between the two instances.


The cooperation was based on the following actions:

·         Construction and management of a condominium sewerage system, with the implementation of one pilot condominium sewage system in the city of Wukro;

·         Elaboration of a Regulatory Framework for Water and Sanitation services, as well as support in the creation of an independent regulatory entity for the regulation of water supply and sewage services in the regions of Amhara and Oromia;

·         Joint review with the Government of Ethiopia (peer review) of the National Strategy on Urban Sanitation and Hygiene of Ethiopia and its respective Action Plan.

The ultimate goal for this project is to ensure its self-sustainability, both financially and administratively. The local authorities must select the tools and practices that were offered as options to them to be put in place, as well as the financial tools to allow for a full array of tools to guarantee the best services to users. This should be done considering the necessity of an active accountability system required to collect, register and provide financial and operational data related to the rendering of services. 


WASH in Schools Community of Practice (CoP)

Last but not least, Irene Amongin discussed the WASH in Schools Community of Practice (CoP), a global community of practitioners working together in support of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in schools in the developing world. The yammer community of WASH in schools is facilitated by UNICEF, while the five working groups are led by different partners including UNICEF: 1) advocacy- led by UNICEF, 2). Monitoring- led by the Joint Monitoring Programme of UNICEF, 3). Menstrual Hygiene Management- led by WaterAid and UNICEF, 4). Evidence- led by Emory University and programme guidance (such as group handwashing, and issues to address sustainability and scalability- led by Save the Children and GIZ. 

The community of practice engages on various topics on WASH in Schools via the five platforms (Yammer, webinars, International Learning Exchanges, Water and Health conference at UNC, and share documents on the WASH in schools website ( Topics range from available tools, TORs for surveys, policies, financing, standards for WASH in schools, publications and research. Established in 2010, the community has grown to over 480 members from more than 80 organisations who share common goals. The community aims to contribute to the achievement of SDG 4, concerned with guaranteeing good learning, and SDG 6, which refers to universal access to water and hygiene in schools, and other contexts.

The WASH CoP was created to motivate collaboration amongst practitioners by providing platforms to connect regularly and by removing silos amongst sub-sectors. Through five platforms (webinars, Online Yammer, WASH in Schools website, International Learning Exchange, and Water & Health Conference hosted by the University of North Carolina), specialists share good practices on the matter and organisations across the world are connected. 


In advancing the programme goals the different technical groups have engaged in the following examples of areas of work:


  • Development of the SDG core indicators and questions
  • Support to integration of WASH into Education Management Information Systems
  • Sharing of experiences on monitoring


  • Development of the Call to Action for WASH in Schools on the six points of action (monitoring, financing, national standards- as per power point)

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM):

  • Plans to develop national Indicators for MHM in Schools
  • Plans to develop global guidelines on MHM
  • Annual virtual conference and MHM in Ten


  • Providing knowledge on latest research on WinS programming
  • Impact evaluations- eg in Mali and Laos
  • Lessons shared at the water and health conference at UNC

Programme Guidance:

  • Implementation of the Three Star Approach
  • Hygiene promotion
  • Developed a compendium on group handwashing facilities from developing countries


This blog post is part of the CoP-SSC4C Webinar Series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by UNICEF, IPC-IG and UNOSSC on the topic. Please join the Community of Practice on SSC for Children (CoP-SSC4C) if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic. If you have any thoughts on this webinar summary, we would love to hear from you. Please add your comments below!


Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Coverage
    • Expenditure and financing
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Health
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Ethiopia
  • Brazil
  • Global
  • Latin America & Caribbean
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not's