Frequently asked questions

1.    What is the Watershed – empowering citizens programme?
The Watershed – empowering citizens programme is a strategic partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IRC, Simavi, Wetlands International and Akvo.  It aims to build the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) in six countries: Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Ghana, Bangladesh, India and also at international level and in The Netherlands, for evidence-based lobbying and advocacy on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) issues. This five-year partnership contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal for universal access to water and sanitation services and water security (SDG6) by making the voices of citizens heard and strengthening governance and accountability.

2.    What does Watershed stand for?
Watershed: It is a one word only. The word is unambiguous and used everywhere in the world. It has two meanings i) an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas; an area or region drained by a river, river system, or other body of water AND ii) an event or period marking a turning point in a situation (from Wikipedia).
Both are about what the programme is trying to achieve. It is also about water and sanitation and IWRM too. This name is used in combination with a strapline “empowering citizens”.

3.    Who are the partners in the initiative?
The lead partners in Watershed – empowering citizens are the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in particular the Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) Department, Social Development Department (DSO) and relevant embassies) and IRC, Simavi, Wetlands International and Akvo. In each of the programme countries local civil society organisation (CSO) partners will be identified.

4.    What is each partner responsible for?
The programme is organised as a consortium, with a Board composed of the CEOs of the four organisations and the Project Director. All five partners (including DGIS) are responsible for the success of Watershed. All work packages (below) include most of the four organisations, and one of them leads each for the work package and it’s ultimately responsible for its outcomes and impact.

  • Management and coordination: IRC
  • Monitoring and Learning: Akvo
  • Kenya: Simavi
  • Uganda: IRC
  • Mali: Wetlands International
  • Ghana: IRC
  • Bangladesh: Simavi
  • India: Wetlands International
  • Netherlands: Simavi
  • International: IRC

Fund raising and creating leverage: Simavi

5.    Why does Watershed focus on building the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)?
CSOs are the voice of citizens at local, national and international level and can make governments more accountable and increase their legitimacy. At the local level, CSOs have a role in mobilising communities in claiming their water and sanitation rights and participating in decision-making. They can work with local government and local private sector to ensure their needs are met. At the national level, CSOs can advocate for changes in WASH policies, practices and discourse to represent voices and perspectives of citizens. They can make available critical evidence and mobilise engagement with stakeholders. At the international level, CSOs and their coalitions can advocate for WASH investments that promote the Sustainable Development Goal for universal access to water and sanitation services and water security (SDG6). They can engage with and lobby national governments to uphold the human right to water and sanitation.

6.    How will Watershed build the capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)?
Watershed will use formal training, mentoring and coaching to build CSO capacities. CSO partners and their networks will be coached on stakeholder mapping and the development and implementation of lobby and advocacy strategies.  The programme will also develop jointly with CSOs the evidence required for lobby and advocacy.

7.    What will the outcome of Watershed be?
In the countries where Watershed works, competent Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and their networks lobby effectively for realising the human right to water and sanitation and reducing inequalities in access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) issues. In the global WASH and IWRM arena, global civil society effectively demands fulfillment of the human right to water and sanitation and equitable and sustainable allocation of water resources.

8.    What’s the roadmap for the coming years?
The Watershed programme includes a 9 month inception phase focusing on the context analysis at the local, national and international levels and the creation of a baseline for interventions.  It will result in the selection of strategic partners and identification of their capacity-strengthening needs, the identification of at least two policy issues (per country, and internationally), and outlines for evidence-based strategies for lobbying and advocacy.

Next, the consortium partners will develop a cycle of yearly action planning and assessment. Action plans will prioritise new or ongoing areas for lobbying and advocacy and development of CSO capacity. Programme monitoring, evaluation and learning will track progress on all outcomes and feed back into the annual action planning process.

Within the first annual action plan, Watershed partners will identify what is needed for the capacity-building strategy, such as training modules, toolkits and coaching trajectories for the different levels (local, national and international) of individual CSOs, including consortium partners, and other structures (networks, platforms, working groups). Part of this work will include a comparison between findings in different countries so a cohesive approach is developed whilst allowing for different needs in different contexts.

9.    What’s the Theory of Change?
The Watershed Theory of Change holds that lobbying and advocacy efforts must be locally relevant and emerge from an inclusive process of sector mapping with civil society local partners. Based on the partners’ knowledge of the focus countries, likely areas for initial lobbying and advocacy efforts can be identified.

10.    Where does Watershed get its funding?
The Watershed programme is funded until the end of 2020 by a grant of €16,352,500 from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Watershed is one of 25 “Dialogue and Dissent” strategic partnerships for ‘lobby and advocacy’. Since the MFA grant only covers full country programming in Kenya and Uganda, extra funding will be sought to fully develop the programmes in India, Bangladesh, Mali and Ghana. In addition fundraising will be needed to ensure programme continuity beyond 2020.

11.    In which countries does Watershed work?
Watershed will initially run fully developed country programmes in Kenya and Uganda. In four other countries - India, Bangladesh, Mali and Ghana – extra funding will be sought to expand the programme scope beyond sub-regions and/or the minimum two policy issues. The Netherlands programme aims to develop CSO capacities in lobbying and advocacy towards the Dutch government to actively support the achievement of the human right to water and sanitation, and compliance with aid effectiveness principles.

12.    How can I support Watershed’s existing or new country programmes now and beyond 2020?
Please contact the Fund raising and creating leverage Work Package leader at Simavi , Nanneke Nix

13.    I am from an international Civil Society Organisation? How can Watershed help me?
Please contact the International Lobbying and Advocacy Work Package leader at IRC, Elynn Walter

14.    I am from a Civil Society Organisation based in a Watershed programme country. How can Watershed help me?
Please contact the following colleagues:

  • Kenya: Sandra van Soelen (
  • Ghana: William Frimpong (
  • Mali: Seriba Konaré (
  • Uganda: Jane Nabunnya Mulumba (
  • Bangladesh: Sara Ahrari (
  • India: "Ritesh Kumar (" (
  • Netherlands:  Roel Blesgraaf (
  • International: Elynn Walter (

15.    I am from the media, whom do I contact to know more about Watershed?
Please contact:

  • Vera van der Grift grift [at] (IRC)
  • Paul Brotherton Paul.Brotherton [at]  (Wetlands International)
  • Klaartje Vest  Klaartje.vest [at] (Simavi)
  • Alvaro de Salvo alvaro [at] (Akvo)