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Breaking organizational stovepipes Connecting water, sanitation, food, and public health

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 3: What opportunities lie in the improved cooperation between water, food, and public health sectors?
Author(s): Neil Grigg

Neil Grigg - Colorado State University


Oral:

Abstract

The issue to be addressed is that weak linkages between management controls of water, food, sanitation, and health systems cause poor performance, degrade security, and trigger failures under stress. These cause lack of safe water for critical human needs; lack of irrigation water; lack of access to adequate sanitation; non-point agricultural runoff problems; and public health threats from poor performance. Among the major causes are organizational stovepipes between sectors and among problem scales and levels of governance.

The presentation will clarify how these organizational stovepipes comprise the primary barrier to block improvements in integration of linked water-sanitation-health systems. It will address the reality that, while policy is set at higher governance levels, the most important actions occur at the local level where people depend on water supply for human and agricultural purposes and sanitation for the quality of their housing and daily lives. While explaining this barrier conceptually is helpful, specific explanations based on actual experiences where action occurred are required to identify evidence-based solutions to diverse problems with organizational stovepipes and constraints. Classifying these problems into archetypes enables use of systems thinking in identification of  transferable lessons learned.

The methodology will create a road map to address gaps in the linked systems comprehensively by identifying workable trade-offs and tools to promote cooperation across sectors. It will begin with a concept model of how water-sanitation-health systems are linked with specific management instruments. Management scenarios will be identified to assess case-based evidence of successes and needs going
forward. Five brief case studies will illustrate scenarios of archetypes and lessons learned about addressing problems systemically. Current tentatively selected case studies will show: city versus farmers (untreated sewage threatens health of irrigators and their cash crops); community action (community water center helps residents take responsibility for their actions); rural action (water user association promotes collective action in agricultural and rural domestic water uses); empowerment (cooperative efforts assist small water systems to improve capacity and resilience); and intergovernmental cooperation (targeting non-point runoff through cooperation and win-win strategies).

Results will be: 1) a road map for adoption of lessons learned about resolving stovepipes through integrative tools such as IWRM and One Water; and 2) identification of specific lessons to address the questions raised under Theme 3. With these, stakeholders can work together to improve organizational cooperation across sectors at all affected levels.

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