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If you have attended a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) event recently, you have probably heard the acronym ‘ICT’ being bandied about. These conversations range from ‘What does ICT (Information and Communications Technology) stand for and why is everything an acronym?’ to “How are we going to use ICT to facilitate the measurement and monitoring of interventions with data from customers, operators and government?’

There is huge potential to harness the latest advances in ICT to improve efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in the WASH sector and also in the development community as a whole. Despite this promising outlook, several challenges exist to use the full potential of ICT. Is there sufficient knowledge to apply the new technologies effectively? What has worked and how? Who has access to the information and are incentives in place for using information to improve services? How can these technologies achieve scale?

Multiple events and workshops have been held during the fall of 2013 to bring implementers and experts together to answer these questions and share lessons learned in this growing field.  To synthesise all of these events, meetings and conversations, we decided put together a paper (embedded below) to summarise the storylines and trends involving ICT in WASH. This paper brings together the common themes and challenges identified during the Stockholm World Water Week conference, the University of North Carolina Water and Health 2013 conference, and the International Water Association Development Congress. The conveners of each workshop have summarised the key messages of their event and provide a snapshot view of ICT in the WASH sector.

I would like to thank said conveners, Ben Mann, David Schaub-Jones, Joseph Pearce and Nick Dickinson for firstly organising the events and then taking the time to summarise the core themes and storylines represented in this paper.  I would also like to thank Sophia from SeeSaw for being our copy editor extraordinaire.

The conversations around this subject are going to increase in frequency, volume and complexity, so it is important to make sure that knowledge is being shared and that these discussions are not confined to the hallways of conferences. So please enjoy the paper and we would all love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Download the ICT&WASH_Fall 2013 in PDF format.

Henry Jewell is executive director of Akvo Foundation USA and programme manager for Akvo FLOW.