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One For All, a Global Alliance Fighting the Water Crisis

It began almost a decade ago. IRC and Water For People initiatives across Latin America, Africa, and India overlapped and collaborations thrived. Joint success was noticeable. In early 2020, despite the fact that the pandemic was taking hold around the world, a very different, much more hopeful global conversation was taking place between Netherlands-based IRC and Water For People: The work we do together is successful. How can we make our collaborations more strategic and create more impact?

One For All, an alliance of global organizations championing collaborative methods to support water, sanitation, and hygiene justice issues across the world, was born a short time later. Earlier this year, Water for Good, whose primary focus is in the Central African Republic, joined the alliance. They have long inspired the global WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sector to think big even in fragile states with a commitment to working with local, permanent institutions to create sustainable services at scale.

Water For People Co-CEOs share why One For All is not just another alliance of hardworking international NGOs, but one driven by an urgency for impact – vast impact.

Why is One For All an important investment for Water For People?

Samson: In the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, there are a large number of small players. All well meaning, all established for different reasons, and all wanting to do something good—but it ultimately leads to competition for resources and confusion for governments on how to coordinate with such a large number of players.

The key for us is to collaborate to lead, whereas most of the rest of the sector is simply competing. For us to have a joint strategy and increased joint programming shows we are not competing with each other but showing our impact and strengthening national systems.

How will One For All truly make an impact?

Mark: The sector fragmentation is ridiculous and not ultimately helpful. We truly believe that our impact as a collective is greater as an alliance than the sum of the individual parts.

We have a joint influence strategy with key activities that we’ve identified to do together at global and regional levels. In countries where we have overlap, we have a unified voice when speaking with governments. I often think about how messy it must be to be a high-ranking government official with all these organizations who genuinely want to support you, but each has a slightly different agenda and ask. We want to make that process easier for everyone, and in the end more impactful for communities.

Our global, joint results framework will really take us a long way toward aligning initiatives and prioritizing impact mechanisms through 2030. Right now many donors have their own monitoring frameworks which they require partners to use. Many NGOs have their own, too, to hold themselves accountable. Our framework will help serve as a model for donors and other NGOs to align impact (and not have so many separate, unique monitoring systems that take time, attention, and person-power to learn and manage).

Finally, the geographic footprints of IRC, Water For Good, and Water For People are very complementary. We see this as an opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths in new geographies. It takes years to develop a new country program, and we don’t have many years left to make the kind of impact we must to support governments to achieve SDG-6.

What do you hope the alliance ultimately accomplishes?

Samson: If most or all of the countries where we work meet the SDG 6 goals, that’s success.

I think the reality is that, as the CEO of SWA said, our focus should be trying to do as much as we can having SDG 6 in mind. We shouldn’t paralyze ourselves worrying about what if countries don’t hit those targets. If countries are 50% now and get to 90%, that’s still progress. In most of our countries, the population growth is significant. The need to continue to improve quality and quantity will be beyond 2030.

About One For All

One For All is an alliance of global organizations led by IRC, Water For People and Water for Good to champion collaborative methods to support water, sanitation and hygiene justice issues across the world. Members work with local, regional and national governments to implement climate resilient system-strengthening strategies. They also partner with champions in health, climate, economic development, education and social justice to encourage sustainable economic growth and address the social justice inequities that come from a lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Alliance members hold themselves accountable to support governments to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, water and sanitation for all, by 2030. The actions of one—a person, a community, an organization—are in support of all.

The All Systems Connect International Symposium 2023 in May is the first collaborative expression of the alliance. It’s designed to bring together changemakers from health, climate, social justice and water, and sanitation and hygiene. This opportunity will connect people with ideas and systems with solutions to achieve justice for all. The Symposium will enable delegates to connect with purpose, work on collective solutions and strengthen their capabilities as systems leaders. 

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