WCAD Scale-up Programme
In-Country Exposure Visit Organised
Under the collaborative effort of InM and Water.org, a two-day in-country exposure visit was organised during 4-5 October 2023, at CHRD in Modhupur, Tangail. The location is one of the focal points for the WaterCredit Adoption (WCAD) programme of BURO Bangladesh, a long-term partner of Water.org. The primary objective of the visit was to offer participants a hands-on understanding of how microfinance has been effectively integrated into water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives. BURO Bangladesh, a successful WaterCredit programme partner, shared their valuable experiences with other organisations. The programme aimed to share these valuable practical experiences with other partner organisations to catalyse positive changes.
The participant partner organisations included IDF, BASA, PMUK, SFDW, DISA, SDC, GUK, and SDS, with each sending two senior staff members to participate in this enlightening exposure visit. InM played a pivotal facilitating role in organising the visit, fostering opportunities for mutual learning and collaboration among the WCAD partner microfinance institutions (MFIs). The visit created a platform where these organisations could exchange ideas and share their experiences, particularly concerning the challenges faced in implementing the WCAD programme effectively.
The objectives of the visit were multi-faceted. Firstly, it aimed to provide a deep insight into BURO Bangladesh’s WaterCredit Adoption Programme and its integrated approach towards improving access to safe drinking water and enhanced sanitation through microfinance mechanisms. Secondly, it sought to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the functioning, objectives, and impact of the WaterCredit Adoption Programme on marginalised communities. Additionally, the visit aimed to identify best practices and innovative strategies for combining microfinance and WASH interventions with a focus on achieving positive outcomes. Lastly, it aimed to explore the collaborative efforts between InM, MFIs, and BURO Bangladesh in implementing water credit initiatives and fostering sustainable development.
The visit comprised of various activities, including an orientation session where BURO Bangladesh introduced their WaterCredit Adoption Programme, field visits to project sites and communities and roundtable discussions where participants shared insights and strategies to overcome challenges. They also visited BURO Craft to learn about the socioeconomic impact of BURO Bangladesh’s initiatives. Participants provided valuable insights, noting the unique nature of WCAD’s integration of microfinance, the importance of top management support, capacity development for staff, rigorous research, programme structure, monitoring and evaluation, demand creation by loan officers and the necessity of local entrepreneur linkage. PMUK’s commitment to continuing WASH activities beyond the WCAD programme was highlighted and IDF emphasised the need for strong motivation to overcome challenges.
During the discussion, various challenges were also identified, including economic hardships faced by targeted marginalised communities, difficulty in loan collection, convincing potential borrowers due to interest rates, monsoon season hindering construction, employee turnover affecting project objectives and initial challenges faced by new partners which were subsequently addressed.
The exposure visit provided valuable insights and learning, showcasing the effectiveness of microfinance integration into WASH initiatives and the importance of collaboration and support from top management. It highlighted the need for staff capacity development, ongoing research, structured programme outlines and strong monitoring and evaluation. The challenges of economic conditions, loan collection, and convincing borrowers were acknowledged, emphasising the importance of motivation and determination to overcome such obstacles. Overall, the visit underscored the innovative and transformative nature of the WCAD programme and its potential to make a lasting impact on marginalised communities.