Newsletter of Skat - Swiss Resource Centre and Consultancies for Development
Dear Friends and Partners,
The electronic newsletter of Skat is sent to you approximately three times each year. Skat News provides you with brief summaries of recent and ongoing projects, links you to further information and documents, and provides you with relevant contact addresses. Your feedback at info[AT]skat.ch is welcome.
Skat Projects and Activities
Swiss Year of Sanitation Campaign
Today, 2.5 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation facilities. Recognizing the impact of sanitation on public health, poverty reduction, economic and social development, and the environment, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to declare 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. The goal is to raise awareness and to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015. SDC, in collaboration with public- and private-sector partners, is participating in this initiative by raising awareness with a national campaign in Switzerland designed to outline the challenges of sanitation and to trigger practical improvements.
Skat is assisting SDC in coordinating and implementing the national campaign. Awareness raising materials such as a flyer and a website have been developed. Two itinerant exhibitions are currently touring Switzerland. Moreover, a number of actions have been successfully carried out such as the “sanitation weekend” on May 24/25 during which around 40 wastewater treatment plants across the country opened their doors to an enthusiastic public.
To obtain further information on the Swiss campaign, on past and future events as well as documentation materials, please consult http://www.sanitation2008.ch (in German, French, and Italian) or contact Agnès Montangero (agnes.montangero[AT]skat.ch).
Study Tour to Switzerland of a delegation from Ukraine
Within the framework of the Swiss-Ukrainian Decentralisation Support Project (DesPro), implemented by Skat, a study tour to Switzerland of Ukrainian project partners was undertaken from 7 to 12 July 2008. The objective of this study tour was to expose project partners (Ukrainian Governmental officials and politicians – national and Oblast and Rayon level, and community leaders) to successful experiences with the decentralised community-based public services delivery system in Switzerland.
The delegation comprised 18 participants and was headed by the Minister of Regional Development and Construction and his Deputy, and accompanied by the SDC National Programme Officer, the DesPro PIU team, Kiev, and the DesPro HQ team of Skat.
The programme started with a short but cordial reception by the Mayor of Zurich, Dr. Elmar Ledergerber, and a day in Berne, where SDC HQ received participants and provided them with an introduction to the Swiss Cooperation with Eastern Europe and the CIS. A highlight was the presentation by Prof. Wolf Linder of the University of Berne who made participants familiar with the Swiss political system with regard to decentralisation, followed by the welcome address of SDC’s Director Ambassador Martin Dahinden. A thematic exchange on fiscal decentralisation and financial equalisation systems between Cantons and the federal level with representatives of the Conference of the Cantonal Governments and EDA’s Political Affairs Division rounded off this first day’s presentations.
During the following days the group visited the Institute of Federalism in Fribourg, where participants gained insights into Swiss local services and infrastructure provision from an administrative and legal point of view. Subsequently, the delegation received a sense on how local services are provided in practice through visits of the water association of Kiesental, to the municipal waste incineration plant in St.Gallen, water supply at town and small rural municipality levels. The group gained further insight into the Swiss local government and administration system, and on how quality services are provided as a result of a well-functioning, highly decentralised structure.
The visit programme ended with a closing session in which participants reflected the learning experiences and gave some feedback to the organising DesPro/Skat team.
The study tour took place in a positive and open atmosphere. Group dynamics between participants were very good as were the interactions with the numerous Swiss hosts.
Further information can be obtained under ( http://www.skat.ch/activities/prarticle.2006-06-28.1772746517/skatactivity.2006-10-11.5883481650/prarticle.2008-08-27.3662560248 ) from Claudia Schneider (claudia.schneider[AT]skat.ch) or Juerg Christen (juerg.christen[AT]skat.ch).
Hydrophil / Skat consortium provides programme monitoring services to Sida
On May 15th 2008, after a competitive tender process, the consortium hydrophil GmbH (Austria) / Skat was awarded the consulting contract for the monitoring of the “Pungwe Basin Transboundary Integrated Water Resources Management and Development Program (PP2)” implemented by national agencies of Mozambique and Zimbabwe and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The consultants serve as advisors to Sida to support it in its follow-up of the PP2 and assure close monitoring and quality control focused on results and implementation efficiency. The team leader is provided by Skat (B. Duffau, associated expert). Hydrophil makes available additional experts and assures project management. The services cover the period between July 2008 and October 2010, with an option for extension of the contract up to April 2012.
In order to agree on a common ground for this monitoring assignment, a start-up mission has been successfully carried out by the team leader end of July 2008. The mission allowed presenting the consultant’s assignment to the various stakeholders, defining a detailed and jointly refined work plan for the monitoring services, following-up on the PP2’s inception phase, defining an M&E system for the assessment of the implementer’s performances, and supporting the definition of a common framework for the overall monitoring of the Program. The main services rendered by the consultants over the coming period will consist of annual monitoring missions and ad-hoc support services (e.g. assessment of reports, preparations for meetings, answering of specific enquires) delivered to Sida upon demand.
For further information, please contact Roger Schmid (roger.schmid[AT]skat.ch)
Extended Skat support to Caritas Switzerland in Kosovo
Improving the living conditions and livelihoods of ethnic minorities as well as fostering peaceful coexistence and collaboration between different ethnic groups in villages of Southern Kosovo are the principal objectives of Caritas Switzerland (CaCH) support in that country. Within the scope of community building processes, projects targeted at infrastructure improvements are also identified and prioritized. Since 2007, Skat (Roger Schmid) assists CaCH in the appraisal, planning, implementation and follow-up of village-level water supply, sanitation and hygiene projects. Within this partnership, Skat complements the technical competencies and sector knowledge of the country programme by providing thematic support to the local office in Prizren and the Kosovo desk at the agency’s head office through advisory services from the desk and regular backstopping missions to the field.
This year, Skat’s thematic scope of the support to CaCH in Kosovo has been extended to the field of settlement development. Claudia Schneider performed a feasibility assessment of a RAE settlement project in Gjakova in June 2008. This community of about 140 ethnic Roma families consists of former workers of a nearby state-owned tobacco factory that was closed down and is now being privatized. The families live in former workers’ houses as well as in self-constructed dwellings under very poor and slum-like conditions.
For further information, please contact Roger Schmid (roger.schmid[AT]skat.ch) or Claudia Schneider (claudia.schneider[AT]skat.ch).
SDC Backstopping Mandate in Water and Sanitation entered its 5th phase
Since 1983, Skat collaborates closely with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in the Water and Sanitation sector. This collaboration has been formalized in 1996 in an “SDC backstopping mandate in W&S”. Skat has since successfully implemented four 3-years phases of backstopping at the services of SDC, and has entered a fifth phase (2008-10). This continuity reflects the unique services Skat provides based on its long lasting backstopping and consulting experiences, its familiarity with many of SDC’s sector programmes, its vast networks, and its recognized expertise as a professional resource centre.
The backstopping mandate aims at reinforcing SDC’s internal thematic capacities and competences and promotes the implementation of SDC’s sector policy and its drive towards the realisation of the MDGs. It provides professional services in support of the core functions of SDC’s water desk in a) Innovation and Learning, b) Development of Policies & Tools, c) Networking & Knowledge sharing (including the AGUASAN group), and d) Advisory and support services on demand, where brief counselling and day-to-day support to the SDC water desk and, to a limited extent, to further SDC staff and partners in the sector are provided.
For further information, please contact Roger Schmid (roger.schmid[AT]skat.ch) or Agnès Montangero (agnes.montangero[AT]skat.ch).
Local Poverty Reduction through Employment Generation in Bangladesh
Regional unbalance is a growing concern in Bangladesh. Despite of remarkable changes that have taken place thanks to innumerable development efforts, wide disparities in living standards and poverty incidence prevail between regions within Bangladesh. Whilst the national average of the country’s population living below the poverty line is about 40%, it is much higher in some northern and southern Districts that reach approx. 60%. This fact accounts also for the ongoing rural – urban migration that puts enormous pressure on the major centres of the country. In addition, a substantial part of the population is still not covered by initiatives that reduce poverty through income and employment generation.
It is against this backdrop that UNDP Bangladesh has decided to further explore potential initiatives in the field of employment generation in support of poverty reduction in the vulnerable Districts of Rajshahi and Barisal Divisions, and to entrust Skat (Juerg Christen), in March 2008, with the formulation of the project. Support will be provided in the framework of the project “Local Poverty Reduction through Employment Generation (LPREG)”.
Based on the fact that sustainable growth, and thus poverty reduction, can only be achieved through employment and income generation, the project’s scope is threefold:
i. The project’s main scope will be the provision of capacity development support to the regional and national Governments to regional planning based on harmonized strategies and approaches related to poverty reduction through employment generation. This includes the strengthening of the capacity of key government officials at all levels in the fields of strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, networking as well as knowledge management.
ii. The project’s scope also includes policy, advocacy and advisory support, particularly in the fields of infrastructure development such as electricity supply, access roads, financing (banking) services as well as enabling market linkages, etc. through organising roundtable meetings and discussions, and conducting of special seminars.
iii. The project will also develop replicable models of innovative employment generation initiatives. These initiatives will be undertaken through the local government and local NGO partners.
For further information, please contact Juerg Christen (juerg.christen[AT]skat.ch).
Pakistani Entrepreneurs investing in Energy Efficient Brick Production
While the booming South Asian construction sector considerably contributes to its economic development, the fast growing demand for building material causes massive environmental problems. The highly polluting traditional brick kilns, which are mushrooming around the growing cities, became one of the main reasons for the increasingly unhealthy living conditions in the peri-urban settlements and villages.
This summer, the first Pakistani brick entrepreneurs are investing in the modernisation of their brick production scheme by building Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns (VSBK). The originally Chinese VSBK technology was further improved by Skat and adapted to the South Asian context. A well operated VSBK reduces emission by 80% and coal consumption by 30% as compared to the traditional Bull Trench Kiln. In addition, it considerably improves the working conditions of the brick labour.
Mandated by SDC, Skat has been successfully transferring this technology to brick entrepreneurs in Nepal and Afghanistan for many years and is now introducing its economic and environmental advantages and performance into Pakistan in order to support local brick manufacturers in opting for a social, energy efficient, environment-friendly production.
Given that brick production accounts for 54% of the entire coal consumption in Pakistan and up to one third of the greenhouse gases GHG (Kathmandu, Nepal), the envisaged large scale dissemination of VSBK technology in South Asia will have a considerable impact on the climate, even at the global level.
For further information, please contact Daniel Wyss (daniel.wyss[AT]skat.ch).
Swiss Parliamentarians visiting Housing and Sanitation Project in a Roma Slum in Serbia
The social, economic, and political exclusion and the massive immigration of Kosovo-Roma after 1999, led to the slump of living conditions and life expectancy in Serbia’s Roma settlements below the level of many slum dwellers in the South. In 2003, Serbia received the “International Award for Housing Right Violation” for the systematic exclusion of Roma slums from basic infrastructure.
Following the principles of national action plans of the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2014), Skat technically supports a local NGO in implementing a Roma-driven slum upgrading project funded by SDC (BFM), HEKS, and Swiss Solidarity.
The project provides electricity, sanitation facilities, and basic house repairing to the inhabitants of two Serbian Roma Settlements. Given the limited funds available for Roma settlements, the project focuses on empowering the Roma to combine external support with their own resources and capacities in order to gain the highest possible added value out of a low-budget project.
In May of this year, a delegation of the parliamentary commission for foreign affairs visited the project during its initial construction phase.
For further information, please contact Daniel Wyss (daniel.wyss[AT]skat.ch).
Resettlement of Dutch Bar Community in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka - Successful Completion
Sri Lanka was one of the most ravaged countries in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. The Tsunami caused extensive damage, disrupting human life, livelihood, infrastructure, private and public properties, economic activities, and social structures. In Batticaloa district on the East coast, one of the most affected regions of the country, thousands of people had lost their homes, their family and their belongings.
Based on its long-time engagement in the area, Helvetas committed to constructing 100 houses in Thiraimadu, Batticaloa. The project was financially supported by SwS (Swiss Solidarity) and implemented by Skat.
The project was designed as a response to the habitat and livelihood needs emerging after the Tsunami, with the overall goal to re-install and improve the living conditions of Tsunami-affected people in Sri Lanka. This goal goes beyond mere housing construction; it pursues a comprehensive approach which covers technical, social, and economic dimensions.
The Thiraimadu Relocation Scheme in many ways illustrated the “ills” of Post-Tsunami rehabilitation efforts, i.e. lack of coordination, non-fulfillment of pledges, inconsistency of governmental policies and donor presence. The instable security situation in the district and lack of capacity in all aspects left many donors jittery, finally inducing them to give up or suspend work in Thiraimadu. 15 months after Tsunami, no physical reconstruction activities had been taken up in Thiraimadu yet. From originally nine donors, only three remained on the spot. The whole Thiraimadu Resettlement Project was at risk and nearly became a non-starter. Helvetas/Skat decided to start reconstruction on their own initiative and took the lead in organizing local donor-coordination meetings. This forward strategy was highly appreciated by all stakeholders, and its success induced other donors to re-initiate their temporarily paralyzed reconstruction intervention in Thiraimadu. As a result, about 1000 families had been successfully resettled by the end of 2007.
In principle, the project was implemented in a donor driven approach with a strong participation of the beneficiaries. Well functioning monitoring and management structures together with a realistic project scope left room for the necessary flexibility in project implementation to react to the different developments and changes in the local context and to finish the project within the scheduled time frame.
The lean organizational structure of the project allowed a very efficient and effective project management. It made it possible to manage the local field office with one expatriate person only.
Helvetas was in charge of the overall supervision of the programme and the liaison at Swiss level (other Swiss NGOs, Swiss Solidarity).
Skat was in charge of technical and managerial backstopping support including training and capacity building on the basis of a Helvetas consultancy mandate. Skat’s backstopper visited both reconstruction projects every three to four months. Skat’s site architect headed the project team operating from an office located at Batticaloa town.
The Thiraimadu relocation project met the objectives as regards beneficiary satisfaction, timely completion, budget, and quality standards set by SwS. Thanks to a clever project set up major implementation and management difficulties as occurred in other Tsunami reconstruction projects in Sri Lanka did not emerge. It can doubtlessly serve as a model for similar reconstruction interventions coming up in the future.
For further information, please contact Daniel Schwitter (daniel.schwitter[AT]skat.ch).
Guideline Notes on Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable Interventions for Schools
UNICEF Education Section has a programme that addresses the effects of Climate Change. Skat has been contracted to provide an easily understandable introduction into environment-friendly and sustainable interventions/technologies that could be used in schools. The guideline notes will be included into the Environmental Education Resource Pack. They are primarily aimed at a readership that has little technical background.
The guideline notes are available on an interactive CD and give specific information on four climatic zones: Tropical rainforest, dry land, flood plains, and highland. The reader will discover the illustrated modules by mouse click. They help gaining a good understanding of the interventions/technologies and facilitate decision-making on whether pursuing the introduction of such measures is worthwhile to the individual schools. Furthermore, they indicate possible next steps.
The guideline notes cover Solar Electricity, Solar Pumps, Solar Cookers, Wind Pumps, Eco-Sanitation, Grey Water Re-Use, Waste management, Composting, School Gardens, Tree-Planting, Groundwater Recharge, and Rainwater Harvesting.
A multi disciplinary Skat team consisting of Agnès Montangero, Sanitation and Agriculture, Jonathan Hecke, Waste, and Erich Baumann, Water and Energy, prepared the modules.
For further information, please contact Erich Baumann (erich.baumann[AT]skat.ch).
The Skat Foundation edits various publications in the fields of water supply and environmental sanitation, waste management, sustainable building and settlement development, and transport and mobility. Browse through our list of publications on our website: http://www.skat-foundation.org/publications . For any enquiries please send a mail to publications[AT]skat.ch