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Engage partners from diverse sectors to build solutions that address complementary social environmental and economic issues


Engage partners from diverse sectors to build solutions that address complementary social environmental and economic issues

Engage partners from diverse sectors to build solutions that address complementary social environmental and economic issues

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: Anheuser-Busch InBev
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Scale & Exit
Last Updated May 22, 2024


Social and economic issues are often connected to environmental challenges. To engage the right partners, funding sources, and project strategy, understand the potential broad impacts of your project before designing any partnership. Win support from key stakeholders by framing water challenges as connected to economic, social, and environmental issues. Consider partners working outside the typical water realm: partners that interface with water, such as public health institutions that work with local communities or urban planning departments that authorise building permits, may be just as important as service delivery partners or water management authorities. Ultimately, a well-designed and balanced partnership will provide a perspective that helps keep water security a priority within the community, public, and private sectors.


Although bringing different perspectives into a partnership may slow progress, diverse viewpoints can provide new solutions, as well as different and much needed expertise. When partnerships tackle a more holistic goal – e.g. public behaviour change versus engineering solutions – they provide lasting solutions to water-related challenges while preventing the duplication of efforts and waste of resources.


  • Perform due diligence on local water challenges to understand the organizations currently involved and examine how local water issues connect to other environmental, social, and economic issues.
  • Locate an entry point for each prospective partner that speaks to their strategy for water security, public health, job creation, or other approach.
  • Discuss combined objectives in bilateral meetings to explore how multi-issue goals may contribute to the overall outcome of any prospective partnership. No one size fits all – there may need to be some trade-offs.


The LuWSI partnership has conducted projects that empowered the local communities in Lusaka, Zambia. Working with Lusaka City Council, LuWSI used a strong bottom-up approach in parallel with the development of the Lusaka Water Security Action and Investment Plan (WSAIP), working through connected partners with communities at high risk from water-borne diseases including cholera. They trained and empowered community facilitators to create Local Area  Plans, broadening decision-making from the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection (MWSDEP), who oversees water sector in Zambia, to include the local community stakeholders. The Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) also gained a stronger voice through LuWSI, while the partners have managed to open communication between the ministry and regulators regarding connected water issues. Through this communication, partners and regulators made the decision to protect Lusaka groundwater resources through building and business activity control and groundwater protection policy.

Projects that have validated this Lesson

To strengthen multi-stakeholder collaboration to safeguard Lusaka's water resources while enhancing the sustainable and timely access to water and sanitation for all." Cooperation is crucial if the complex issue of water security is to be addressed sustainably. Water security is … Learn More

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.