Tarannum is a cheerful, bright-eyed 8-year old girl living in Topsia slum, a crowded neighbourhood of seemingly makeshift homes in Kolkata, India, with a wastewater canal running through it. Tarannum’s family and neighbours are amongst the 163 million people in India who do not have access to basic water services [i].
Hygiene practices are poor across India. An assessment conducted by World Vision in 15 schools in Kolkata, including Tarannum’s school, found that 83% of the students wash their hands before meals – but only with water. Tarannum used to be one of the many children with little awareness about the importance of hand washing with soap.
At World Vision, hope fuels our best efforts. We believe a world without poverty is not only possible, but is within reach. In order for Tarannum’s life to improve, the system in which she lives needs to be re-shaped. We are convinced that multi-sector partnerships – those involving government, civil society, business, UN agencies and / or other non-state actors, including academia – are a critical vehicle by which to drive this change. As innovative solutions are co-developed and linked by a shared goal, the promise of a better life for children like Tarannum can be achieved.
We need to see more intentionality in enabling these kinds of partnerships to flourish. In 2016, World Vision published a policy paper, Delivering on the Promise, developed with The Partnering Initiative, which outlines how this can happen. Based on fifty interviews with experts from different backgrounds and perspectives, the paper focuses on multi-stakeholder platforms for partnership – a key element of strengthening a supportive environment for collaboration at the country level. These platforms bring together organisations from all sectors of society around a particular issue; they seek to facilitate innovative, collaborative approaches and directly broker and support tangible action – they provide a systematic approach to getting partnerships to scale.
Among other key questions, this paper explores how platforms can ensure that they deliver for the most vulnerable. This question is critical for achieving Agenda 2030 – not only are we committed to leaving no-one behind, but all efforts will be made to first reach those left furthest behind. World Vision champions this approach to work for the most vulnerable children – children like Tarannum.
World Vision is not only performing research and writing papers on platforms for partnership, we are also turning our thinking into action and practice.
In July 2016, World Vision launched Asia P3 Hub, a multi-stakeholder platform for partnerships and innovations aimed at catalysing new solutions to development and humanitarian challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Singapore, which is host to more than 180 water companies, the initial thematic focus of the platform is water, sanitation and hygiene, directly supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 and 17.
For instance, Asia P3 Hub recently brokered a partnership between World Vision India and Clean the World [ii], in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. This year-long programme to implement handwashing education for approximately 4,000 elementary school children will help improve health and school attendance. The poor hygiene practices noted earlier contribute to the prevalence of diarrhoea, which is the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India.
One of the schools targeted by the partnership is attended by Tarannum. She observed that her friends often used to be absent due to stomach problems. However, after the handwashing campaign started, she noted, ‘I can see most of my friends are regular in school. This campaign has taught me how important it is to wash hands properly, and the changes it can bring to all of us. Now before our mid-day-meal, all of us gather to wash our hands with soap and we check one another whether we are washing the right way’.
Through catalysing partnerships like this one, Asia P3 Hub aims to improve the quality of life and inspire hope for millions of children across the Asia-Pacific – millions of children like Tarannum.
[i] WHO/UNICEF JMP Report 2017
[ii] A not-for-profit organisation with a twofold mission: to collect and recycle soap discarded every day by the hospitality industry; and through the distribution of these, prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths each year, reduce the morbidity rate for hygiene-related illnesses and encourage vigorous childhood development.
About the Authors:
Christy Davis is the Executive Director of Asia P3 Hub. She brings 25 years’ Asia experience from the corporate, UN and NGO sectors to champion multi-sector partnerships for market-driven solutions to poverty issues. Christy can be contacted on twitter at @ChristyWVI
Phearak Svay is Asia P3 Hub’s Senior Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Partnership Advisor with over two decades of experience in international and community development. Phearak can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Wisheart is World Vision International’s senior advisor for business sector engagement within the Advocacy and External engagement team. Mike can be contacted at email@example.com and on twitter @MikeWisheart.