Since 2010, Akvo has joined Simavi, AMREF, ICCO, RAIN and WASTE to form the Dutch Wash Alliance. It focuses on improving water, sanitation and hygiene in eight countries – Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nepal and Uganda.

This alliance has taken a distinct approach to ensure its interventions are sustainable – launching the FIETS sustainability model, which has since been adopted into policy in the Netherlands.

Photo top: A kid snapping away on a camera phone at a Nepalese WASH community meeting. Photo above (in panorama): Community welcome to steering group. Surkhet, Nepal, 5th April 2013 . Click then roll the mouse around the image above for a 3D view via Dermandar. It works even better in full screen mode. (Peter van der Linde)

As the half-way point of this programme is approaching, the steering group had originally planned to meet in Bangladesh, but due to current unrest that was judged impossible. We’re very thankful that the programme could be diverted to Nepal at short notice, so we could all see and learn from experiences directly in the field.

Photo: In many of the communities where the WASH Alliance is active, there is a lack of basic understanding related to water, sanitation and hygiene. For example, the dangers of open defecation often feature educational murals on walls. This one is in Surkhet, Nepal. 6th April 2013. (Peter van der Linde)

Over recent days we’ve been introduced to the Nepal steering group members, met local partners and have visited several project sites. The projects we are visiting deal with a wide range of water, sanitation and hygiene approaches in both urban and rural settings, ranging from biogas and rainwater harvesting to ecological sanitation and community-led “total sanitation” approaches.

There are several days to come, but it’s already been a valuable lesson – and created lots of insight into how we can better support local activities and adjust our strategy towards 2015. We’re having quite fundamental discussions, but also really enjoying the hospitable welcome of the local partners and communities – that for me no doubt reached its peak yesterday (as you can see in the photo below).

Peter van der Linde is co-director of Akvo.