CAWST focuses on building the capacity of local organizations in developing countries. We help develop their technical and project implementation skills needed to start, scale-up, or improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in their communities. As such, CAWST helps Canada to achieve SDG targets 6.a: “Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes” and 6.b: “Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management”. We focus on building local knowledge and skills to expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation because knowledgeable community members are able to identify their needs, implement solutions and sustain them in the long-term.
Importantly, the SDGs outline what is required to achieve the goals – the means of implementation, which are given equal importance with the goals themselves. Capacity-building is explicitly identified as one of the primary means of implementation, particularly for water and sanitation. Capacity building is a fundamental part of development that doesn’t simply take funds away from “real”/tangible results, but rather helps achieve targets and maintain outcomes. Water-related hardware such as water filters, or latrines in the sanitation context, will only achieve health and development outcomes if they are used and maintained over the long term. To deliver sustained water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to all by 2030, significant and meaningful investments in capacity building are needed from funders and implementers, in parallel with hardware investments.
Since CAWST was created in 2001, it has made a significant contribution towards safely managed drinking water and sanitation, a critical aspect of SDG 6. As of 2016, 14.9 million people in 84 countries are using better water or sanitation as a result of projects implemented by CAWST’s clients. An additional 8.3 million people have been trained using CAWST’s education and training resources. Clients are using and adapting our training materials to educate communities, build public awareness, and generate demand for solutions, which all result in more people gaining access to better water and sanitation, and adopting proper hygiene practices. Building the capacity of local organizations translates to better decisions, higher adoption and sustained use, ability to overcome challenges and adapt to changing circumstances, ongoing delivery and maintenance of services for the long term, disaster resilience, and a slow but pragmatic exit strategy for those of us who are not local organizations. It also increases correct, consistent and continued use of WASH technologies.
In our efforts to advance SDG 6, CAWST works with over 1,000 organizations throughout the world.
CAWST does not implement water and sanitation infrastructure programs directly. Rather, CAWST provides professional support to over 1,200 clients in 84 countries, many of whom work with community organizations to deliver better water and sanitation. CAWST’s has four major client groups, indigenous NGOs, small international organizations, developing country government agencies and large multi national NGOs. CAWST services target clients that implement household-level solutions, where independent action can have immediate, meaningful results.
CAWST also forms long-term partnerships with local organizations through a Water Expertise and Training (WET) Centre model, launched in 2008. WET Centres are locally-staffed and housed within existing in-country organizations. We work to build their knowledge and skills, so that each WET Centre can deliver capacity building services to clients in their region, to do locally what CAWST does globally. Our organization also works with training partners who deliver training on water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH), and are capable of delivering one or more of CAWST’s workshops.
In addition, our Research Learning department works with leading research and academic institutions to conduct and translate WASH research and knowledge. The goal of these collaborations is to help find solutions for common challenges and improve WASH project implementation, worldwide.
CAWST is also a member of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC), which works towards ending poverty and achieving a peaceful and healthy world, with dignity and full participation for all.
We measure our success, and impact towards SDG 6, by the number of people who are reached with better water and sanitation. This approach drives our activities and compels us to continually re-evaluate our work to ensure that our capacity building services truly result in safe water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene practices.
CAWST’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are internal measures that track our progress in implementing the strategies that contribute to better drinking water and sanitation. CAWST evaluates its success by determining how many of its clients take action as a result of services received from CAWST, the WET Centres or our Virtual Services.
We measure these KPIs annually through a survey sent to all of our clients. 495 clients responded to CAWST’s annual client survey to report their results for the 2016 calendar year. To ensure the KPI results reported by CAWST are not inflated, we only count the client outcomes to which we have directly contributed. Many factors contribute to a project’s success. Although CAWST services play a critical role, they are not the sole contributor to our clients’ success.
Results and impacts are communicated in CAWSTs Annual Report which is published each June, and is available on our website.
The Financial Post named CAWST one of Canada’s most efficient and accountable charities in 2017. CAWST was one of only 23 charities in Canada selected among thousands for its financial prudence, transparency and accountability.
CAWST received a Calgary Award in the category of Environmental Achievement in 2016. This award recognized leadership, innovation, and action in environmental stewardship.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) awarded Camille Dow Baker, co-founder of CAWST, the CMA Medal of Honour for her “made in Canada” solution for one of the world’s greatest public health issues, water and sanitation.