Skat Newsletter 2017

Dear Partners and Friends,

Thank you for taking the time to catch up with what has been happening at Skat Consulting Ltd.. 2017 has been a busy year and our expertise has been heavily in demand. A major highlight has been the 10th Anniversary of the DESPRO programme in Ukraine, where our work to support reform processes in view of decentralisation of government powers and budgets has strengthened local services, including water supply, sanitation and solid waste management. What this approach has proven is that sustainable services don’t come from just installing hardware, but from strengthening the country systems of governance, financing and skills.
We would also like to draw your attention to new publications and link you with recent information, documents and relevant contacts on various projects. The selected projects presented in the newsletter are carried out by Skat Consulting and Skat Foundation. Together we are committed to unlocking the potential of people and their resources to eliminate poverty and build a better future for everyone.


Ukraine: DESPRO Partners’ Forum 2017 / 10th Anniversary, Kiev, 10/11.10.2017

(from left) Holger Tausch, Head Swiss Cooperation Office, Ukraine, Jürg Christen, Manager of Skat Consulting and Programme Manager at DESPRO, Mr. Sergiy Sharshov, Head of Department on Local Self-Governance and Territorial Organization of Power, Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing of Ukraine, and Moderator Ms. Anna Bezulyk at the Partners Forum 2017 in Ukraine.
Skat has been successfully supporting the Ukrainian Government over the last decade through the Swiss-Ukrainian Decentralisation Support Project (DESPRO). In October, we proudly celebrated the 10th anniversary of the programme at the annual DESPRO Partners’ Forum.
The event brought together more than 200 partners from all over the country - representatives from regional and local administrations and also from the national Government. Despite the challenges Ukraine has faced, the journey that DESPRO has taken with its partners has been rewarding, and the results and achievements are remarkable: in particular by demonstrating different models of decentralised service provision in numerous communities through social mobilisation and active participation of partners at the local and regional levels. Through these activities many communities got involved in participative decision making processes and a large number of people in rural villages and small towns got access to improved quality of Water Supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management services in the five partner regions. Outstanding features of these projects are massive contributions by the partners including communities and local budgets. As a result active replication of these processes has been observed in many places.
At the national level, DESPRO - with the support of Skat - actively participated in the Decentralisation Reform Process. Unfortunately during the first two Phases the efforts did not enjoy a very favourable political environment for decentralisation. But this changed drastically in the third Phase, when in early 2014 political changes opened a window of opportunity for decentralisation and consequently political and fiscal decentralisation started to move ahead. These changes finally opened the doors for DESPRO to effectively support the reform process.
Substantial efforts were also put into strengthening Local Self Government Association’s (LGA) capacities through institutional and professional training and capacity development support. Building on these achievements and following the recommendations of last years’ external evaluation SDC decided to extend the cooperation and continue the support to DESPRO into a fourth Phase. During this last phase DESPRO plans to consolidate the achievements and lessons learned of the past 10 project years so that the strengthening of local government and local services continues to go from strength to strength.
Watch the video 10 years of DESPRO or visit DESPROs website
For further Information, contact

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH)

Great Lakes Region: PEPP successfully concluded its Rwandan component

Zone de Pompage-Ninzi Nyamasheke
Since December 2012 Skat, in partnership with Swiss TPH, has been implementing the PEPP: a programme on water supply for the population in the Great Lakes region of Africa, financed by SDC. The PEPP is designed to improve access to sustainable water supply systems and respecting equal access to water of good quality for about 400,000 people in Rwanda (Western districts of Nyamasheke and Rusizi, Burundi (province of Ngozi) and the DR of Congo (province of South-Kivu). It consists of the planning and construction or rehabilitation of existing water supply systems and the promotion of improved hygiene practices targeted at households and pupils. Further, it supports the establishment of sustainable management structures for the water sources and services, as well as the exchange of best practices.
After having been forced to stop the Burundian component of the PEPP in late 2015 due to the prevailing conflict in the country, the Rwandan component of the programme has been boosted during 2016/17 and is now finished. By mid-2017, eight rehabilitated, extended or new drinking water supply systems of a total of more than 200 km length and serving about 94,000 people (and a design capacity of 155,000 people in 2035) could be successfully handed over to the district authorities for their management through the respective private operators. In parallel, the population benefitting from this new access to good quality drinking water has been sensitized in its sustainable use. Water users have been organised around water point committees which act as empowered counterparts of the system operators. Finally, the endline surveys have shown that the implementation of the Rwandan Community Based Environmental Health Promotion Program as done by the PEPP in its districts of intervention has an important positive impact on the population’s hygiene behaviour and health.
Up to spring 2018, the PEPP will concentrate its efforts on the DR Congo component, where the approach focuses on the water supply of a peripheral district of Bukavu (Panzi) in partnership with Mercy Corps.
The infrastructure development and community sensitization works have been launched in autumn. The PEPP hygiene promotion interventions have already complemented meaningfully the Mercy Corps activities in targeted schools in Panzi by piloting the national approach of “Ecoles Assainies” for the first time in an urban setting, and are now investing in improved sanitary facilities of the schools.
For more information, contact or

Moldova: ApaSan project implementation is well on track

In early September 2017, an internal mid-term review of the Water and Sanitation Project in Moldova (ApaSan project) was done to assess the progress of its current phase and to chart the way ahead to the end of the phase/project in May 2019. Consultation confirmed that the project is on track and performing well in transferring its know-how on rural water supply and sanitation to Moldovan institutions. Among the main important achievements are: successful replication of school sanitation with minimal co-financing; service established to support small local water operators; and sound arrangements are in place for the delegation of water services from rural municipalities to regional operators. In the remaining 2 years, the project will monitor the on-going reforms and support the new public monitoring authority to better monitor investments.
For further information about the project please contact the Project Director
Jürg Christen, reviewer from the HQ, visiting the regional operator “Servicii Comunale Floresti”. A contract was recently signed to provide access to water for 11 villages in the North for 10’000 persons.

Nepal: Integral advisory services to Solaqua Foundation

Solaqua Foundation is a private foundation based in St. Gallen focusing on sustainable water quality improvement in Nepal. Since 2014 Skat has been providing advisory services to Solaqua Foundation, including advice on portfolio management, project management and quality assurance.Solaqua currently supports five different implementing partners in Nepal, and Skat continuously screens the local market for additional concepts, partners and projects.
In 2017, a new project was started with a Nepalese NGO called Urban Environment Management Society (UEMS). They help four women’s associations and neighbourhood committees to set up, run and fix water treatment systems in Kathmandu. These local organizations pump groundwater (during the dry season water is bought from tankers) and treat it on-site. The safe drinking water is then sold to all neighbours, and the cash income is used to keep the systems operational in the long run. This example shows how Solaqua is taking an entrepreneurial approach to establishing sustainable water service delivery.
For further information, contact
Informal discussion with the local neighbourhood committee in September 2017

Building and Settlement

Serbia:Owner driven rehabilitation of houses for flood affected vulnerable people in Serbia

The water level raised in the living room 1.30m high (picture taken after the flood)
After the rehabilitation of the flood affected house
In May 2014, Serbia was hit by heavy floods. Parts of Northern, Western and Central Serbia were severely affected. 51 people lost their lives and more than 18,000 houses were damaged. Swiss charity, HEKS, and Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization (EHO) responded with a reconstruction project co-financed by Swiss Solidarity. The project, to be signed off by the end of 2017, focused on the rehabilitation of flood affected houses for 300 vulnerable families (mainly Roma) living in low standard settlements with poor living conditions. It has provided technical support, delivered construction materials and assisted with the necessary guidance to apply an owner-driven approach. In close cooperation with the municipalities, the respective town planning documents were updated, disaster plan zoning revised and basic infrastructure (electricity, water) provided. Skat as the technical backstopper of the project had a consulting role on: technical issues (housing design, sanitation, sewage); ensuring standards and documentation of construction work were done properly; ensuring that appropriate construction management, organisational set-up and staffing was in place; ensuring appropriate delegation of responsibilities and scaling-up of the owner-driven approach. We are delighted to have completed this project successfully and to know that the affected families are back in their own homes.
For more information, contact

Great Lakes Region in Africa: Promoting off-farm employment

Since 2012 Skat has been active in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa guiding the implementation of SDC’s PROECCO Project, Promoting Off Farm-Employment through Climate Responsive Construction Material Production, whose principle aim is to support the transformation of the building material and construction sectors into modern, professional industries that generate employment through environmentally, economically and socially sustainable practices.
Swiss Cube
In August 2017, Skat Consulting constructed and exhibited the $10,000 House (FRW 8 million) at Rwanda’s 2017 International Trade Fair. Built with Modern Brick Technologies, the model house, inspired by the minimalist functionalism, cost-efficiency and high-quality finishes of the Swiss Cube typology, consisted of a modular and transformable urban construction system made of nearly 100% Rwandan Building Materials, specifically Modern Bricks. During the 2-week exhibition period, the model house received more than 35,000 visitors and served as an Info Point for investors and construction professionals seeking information on modern brick production methods, cost-effective construction systems and related building typologies designed to address the massive demand for urban middle-income housing. By exhibiting the business opportunities related to the supply chain for the mass supply of Modern Bricks, the Swiss Cube displayed the (missing) link between Rwanda’s fast urbanisation and the local construction industry, which is poised to transform the pressing need for affordable homes into a steady supply of attractive off-farm jobs.
Building materials in high demand in the Great lakes region
In addition to generating strong interest among developers, financial institutions and homebuyers from all income brackets (more than 3,000 units propose to be built with the Swiss Cube System), the $10,000 House immediately sparked intense discussion at all levels of government, who have now requested Skat’s support in putting in place the necessary technical and logistical measures required to deliver a steady supply of affordable homes across the country. The regional impact is not to be underestimated, private investors and builders visiting from Burundi, DRC, Uganda, Kenya and Egypt who understood the link between building material production and modern construction technologies, expressed interest in establishing Modern Brick production units, further confirming the potential for large-scale private investment and urban transformation.
For more information please visit the Construction Industry Info website or contact or or

Energy and Climate

Switzerland: Implementation of three regional workshops on the ecological rehabilitation of (small) hydropower plants

Skat Consulting Ltd. has been mandated by the Swiss association of small hydropower, Swiss Small Hydro, to conduct three regional workshops on the ecological rehabilitation of small hydropower plants in Switzerland.
The events in St. Gallen, Lucerne and Yverdon-les-Bains met with great interest and active participation from over 130 participants. In small groups, uncertainties and obstacles between cantons, small hydropower operators and planners were discussed, recorded and possible solutions identified. At the same time, the personal contact between power plant owners, authorities and planners got strengthened by this great networking opportunity.
The presentations of the event, the results of the group works and a summary of all workshops are available here:

For more information, contact or subscribe to the Newsletter of EnergieSchweiz

Knowledge Management

Germany: Support GIZ in the development of a concept for a Multi-actor Network on Inequality

The Project "Reducing Poverty - Reducing Inequality" supports the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in updating, adapting and applying strategies and concepts to overcome global poverty and reduce inequality. The goal is to increase the effectiveness of the German Development Cooperation to reduce poverty and inequalities.
Recent studies confirm that equality can fundamentally contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development. This has put the challenge of reducing inequality at the heart of development cooperation policy and practice, and it is widely recognised that success can only be achieved through exchange and collaboration between a broad spectrum of organisations and individuals. To make this happen, GIZ is considering setting up an inequalities multi-actor network. GIZ mandated Skat to develop a concept for the network. This has been done through a series of interviews with key stakeholders and potential members. The concept is expected to be finished in November 2017.
For more information, contact

Skat Foundation activities

Leadership change at Skat Foundation

In 2017, the management of Skat Foundation was handed over from Karl Wehrle to Bertha Camacho. As Senior Knowledge Management and Networking Specialist of Skat and with more than 20 years of work experience in the Development Cooperation, Bertha Camacho is well equipped to undertake her new function at Skat Foundation. We congratulate Bertha and wish her all the best in her new role. At the same time, we want to take this opportunity to thank Karl Wehrle for nine years of enthusiastic work as manager of Skat Foundation. Karl’s friendly and knowledgeable commitment to Skat Foundation has contributed to the consolidation of its activities and has opened the doors to new important partnerships.

Below we are pleased to present an update of selected projects of Skat Foundation:

Bangladesh: HYSAWA External Review

The Hygiene, Sanitation and Water Supply (HYSAWA) is a non-profit financing organization established in Bangladesh in 2007 with the aim of supporting local governance through the implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions.
Since January 2013 the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has supported HYSAWA has been improving the access to drinking water and sanitation and improved hygiene behaviour in the coastal South West region of Bangladesh. HYSAWA has a unique approach where the lowest tier of government, the Union Parishad, is supported to undertake WASH improvements across their Union, with a particular focus on hard-to-reach households, women and ethnic minorities. The use of a novel online monitoring system and public meetings and noticeboards is used to minimise the opportunity for corruption, and misuse of funds.
At the beginning of 2017, the SDC Cooperation Office in Bangladesh entrusted Skat to conduct an external review of this project. The review assessed the relevance, performance, and management arrangements. It also documented the potential impact and lessons learned of project activities on local government institutions and beneficiaries. The recommendations of the review serve HYSAWA in improving the design and implementation of future interventions.
Skat was then requested, in September, by SDC in Bangladesh to support HYSAWA to develop a Project Document for an exit project phase, based on the review recommendations, which will aim to ensure the future sustainability of the HYSAWA and its interventions.
For more information, contact

Switzerland: Workshop Communication and Knowledge Sharing

In October, Skat Foundation supported SECO in the preparation and the moderation of a half-day team event with the motto: “Better Work Together”. Skat was specially engaged in leading the sub-workshop on internal communication and knowledge sharing, which focused the discussion on the value of and the mind-set for communication and knowledge sharing. The 25 participants of this sub-workshop reflected on various existing formats and mechanisms for knowledge sharing and communication. They also brainstormed possible ways to ensure even greater participation and effective collaboration among SECO departments and teams.

Global: Webinar series on mini-grids

Skat Foundation in close cooperation with Energypedia and the Hydro Empowerment Network, implemented a series of three webinars during the first half of 2017 on mini-grid technologies. Between 90 and 160 attendees followed the presentations and actively participated in the discussion rounds. The highly topical subjects attracted experts from a wide range of organisations, including development agencies and banks, practitioners, consultants, NGOs. The presentations and recordings of the three webinars can still be downloaded on the Energypedia webpage:
“Why mini-grid technologies – biomass, diesel, micro/mini hydro, small wind, and hybrid systems – need to be differentiated”
“Grid interconnection of micro/mini hydro mini-grids: What happens when the national grid arrives?”
“Productive End Use of Mini-Grids using Micro/Mini Hydro – Three Examples of How to Make it Happen”

For each webinar, additional knowledge products have been developed as useful “take aways” like e.g. a mini-grid comparison table. This table compares investment cost, operation & maintenance cost, LCOE, local contribution and availability of spare parts, resource assessment, cost drivers, scalability, advantages and limitations of the different technologies.
For more information please visit the Skat Foundation website or follow us on facebook to get notified about upcoming events. For more information, contact

Tanzania: Supporting local water entrepreneurs


Over the past six years Skat Foundation has been supporting SHIPO (Southern Highland Participatory Organization) on an initiative to build capacity of the local private sector in and around Njombe, Tanzania. SHIPO is a non-profit organization with extensive experience in training and monitoring. On a yearly basis they organize a modular training workshop for local well drillers and pump mechanics including a technical and a business module.
These entrepreneurs then sell their products (wells with a locally produced hand pump) to clients and report the location of these installations back to SHIPO, who in turn check on the quality and issue a certificate to the entrepreneur. So far, more than 100 artisans have been trained and more than 900 wells (each with a hand pump) have been certified, enabling thousands of people to improve their water services. This project is a joint initiative of ZH2O and Skat.
For further information, contact

Zimbabwe: Supported Self-supply through Community Health Clubs

In Zimbabwe Skat Foundation is working with the local organization AfricaAHEAD to improve water supply services of households in the Makoni disctrict. Based on a previous study financed by UNICEF, the concept of the project is based on the combination of Community Health Clubs as a platform for community engagement and the introduction of a low-cost, easy-to-repair hand pump (the Rope Pump). Experience showed that this technology is readily accepted and can be used on existing Upgraded Family Wells, which are very common in Zimbabwe. In this way families can draw more water more easily, and often these wells are used for productive purposes as well – given the current situation of economic downturn and frequent droughts this is a major relief and is a key incentive for people to make this significant investment. The project only provides training and facilitates community-based processes of problem solving, helping local entrepreneurs to deliver services which are demanded by the families. 2017 is the first year of this project and the project plans to construct 60 wells with hand pumps. If proven successful, this model can be replicated and scaled up further in the years to come.
For further information, contact

RWSN activities

Changes in the Rural Water Supply Network Secretariat leadership

After eight years at the helm of the RWSN Secretariat Kerstin Danert is handing over the tiller, to transition to more thematic work. Kerstin has reflected that it has been a great and incredibly rewarding experience, and Skat has benefited because RWSN was the main reason for Kerstin leaving Uganda and coming to St. Gallen in 2008. However the time is right for change. Sean Furey is now the Director of the RWSN Secretariat, supported by Meleesa Naughton.
Meleesa Naughton (Communications), Kerstin Danert (Sustainable Groundwater Development theme leader), Sean Furey (Director of RWSN)

Independent evaluation of the Rural Water Supply Network

During 2017 a new RWSN strategy has been in development for next 6 years (2018-2023) and given the dramatic changes and growth that the network has seen over the last 6 years it decided that the new strategy would benefit from an independent evaluation. Although RWSN was founded in 1992, it has been since 2012 that membership has grown dramatically from around 2,000 to nearly 10,000 members. The evaluators found that RWSN is a highly competent, advanced community-building network which connects people who would likely not have been connected before and disseminates valuable knowledge to its members, which can be applied to practice. The evaluation will be published in full on our website in autumn 2017 along with a management response from the RWSN Executive Steering Commitee.

Rural Water Supply Network Strategy Development (2018-2023)

The RWSN Strategy for 2018-2023 (with a mid-term review in 2020) is being developed over the next months on the basis of the evaluation as well as consultations led by thematic leaders and members of the Executive Steering Committee, in line with the following working groups dedicated to specific RWSN themes or cross-cutting topics. The development of the new strategy is intended to be an evolution of the existing 2015-17 strategy rather than a radical reinvention. However it is an opportunity to convene members – and other key stakeholders outside the current membership – to agree priorities for the next period and mobilise support and resources to carry them out. RWSN members were consulted through the RWSN member survey, and been asked to provide inputs to the evaluation and the new strategy via the DGroup online communities, the RWSN blog and by email. After presenting this to the Executive Steering Committee along with outputs from the Evaluation, there will then be a period of reflection before finalising the strategy and endorsement by the Executive Steering Committee.

Animated Short Films on Professional Drilling

Skat Foundation, in collaboration with UNICEF, WaterAid and the US National Groundwater Association have now released four animated films on groundwater.
The films bring technical issues to a non-technical audience.

Kerstin Danert wins Distinguished Associate Award

We would like to congratulate our colleague Kerstin Danert for receiving the Distinguished Associate Award 2017.
The International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Distinguished Associate Award is presented annually to a person who is not a groundwater professional but has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding, development, management and protection of groundwater resources internationally. This award is timely as Kerstin plans to concentrate her efforts and energy on her thematic work. She will continue to try to bring good groundwater resources management and groundwater development much closer to non-hydrogeologists. These are the practitioners in government and the private sector, as well as those that manage projects, political leaders and even the public. With this award, IAH, have given her an incredible boost for this challenging task. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours in her professional life within our team.

Publication: Professional Water Well Drilling: A UNICEF Guidance Note

Professional Water Well Drilling: A UNICEF Guidance Note Published
UNICEF and Skat Foundation have published a guidance note for professional drilling. It provides practical guidance for organisations and individuals that are trying to raise the professionalism of groundwater development in Africa. The guidance note is mainly concerned with rural and small towns’ water supplies but is mindful of the huge challenges faced by supplies in many growing African cities dealing with problems of groundwater quantity and quality.

New staff at Skat Consulting Ltd.

Skat Consulting Ltd. is pleased to welcome our new colleagues Meleesa Naughton as Communications Manager at RWSN secretariat hosted at Skat and Luc Patenaude as Economic Advisor in PROECCO in Burundi. Julie Smolnitchti worked in the ApaSan project implemented by Skat in Moldova and is now based at the headquater in St.Gallen.
Meleesa Naughton is a water resources management professional with experience in research and project management to improve rural and urban water supply and sanitation, and mapping and remote sensing for natural resources management. With her experience and knowledge of the water sector, working for international organization in various countries, she contributes to our expertise in the water and sanitation sector. Since the beginning of 2017 Meleesa is working as Communications Manager for the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) at Skat Consulting Ltd..
Luc Patenaude is newly based in our country office in Burundi to support the SDC project PROECCO as Economic Advisor. With his vast experience in business administration and market development he is a great candidate to support the business development efforts in the construction industry in the Great Lakes Region which leads to employment and improved building materials and access. Luc works together with our local PROECCO team based in Rwanda, Kigali. Contact:
Julie Smolnitchi is now based at our office in St.Gallen after she worked for four years as Assistant Project Coordinator in the ApaSan project in Moldova. She works at Skat as Water Governance Specialist, with expertise on International Water Law, Human Right to Water and Sanitation, project planning and monitoring, sustainability of rural water supply systems, survey design, and business models for household water treatment and storage.
Stephanie Theis is a development professional with experience in managing projects for marginalized people, with a strong focus on capacity building, knowledge management and intercultural communication. With her expertise in knowledge transfer, in designing and implementing knowledge sharing events and in facilitation of workshops, she supports Skat as Knowledge Management expert.

Skat on Social Media

Last but not least, we are happy to announce that Skat is on Facebook. We would like to get in touch with you and share information and knowledge products within a growing network.
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Skat Consulting Ltd.
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phone: +41 71 228 54 54
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