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  • Star Report:  Zambia Compact
  • May 2020

Innovation Grant Program

As the final component of the Institutional Strengthening Activity, the compact made $6 million of competitive grant funding available through the Innovation Grant Program (IGP). The grants program sought to promote new and more effective ways to strengthen and expand water supply networks, create sanitation programs and infrastructure, improve drainage and solid waste management, and provide employment opportunities for the urban poor, women, and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Lusaka. The competitive grant application process also afforded the opportunity to solicit and identify partners that would enhance the sustainability of the compact’s overall investments.

MCC and the GOZ saw a unique opportunity to include the grants component as part of the compact design. A grants program provided flexibility and the ability to test creative approaches to the development of the water and sanitation sector that could then be replicated by the GOZ or private actors. The smaller size and independent nature of individual grants allowed the compact to address issues relating to water, sanitation, and solid waste management provision that could not be solved with large-scale infrastructure alone. Finally, small grants allowed MCA to support local business and NGOs that proposed locally developed solutions and had both the expertise and networks within the community to execute them successfully. The program also provided support to these organizations to help them to effectively manage and execute the grant. 

In total, the program launched two calls for grant proposals and ultimately financed 14 grants: two related to water supply ($2.4 million), five related to sanitation ($1.6 million), and seven related to solid waste ($1.9 million). MCC’s grant selection criteria included factors like the innovation and relevance of the proposal; expected benefits for poor/vulnerable populations and women; cost; risks; potential for sustainability beyond the end of the grant funding period; and potential for scalability. Grant funding also came with a requirement that grantees contribute certain percentages of funding (approximately 15-25 percent of the total grant amount). Cost benefit factors were included in the evaluation criteria, although a formal Economic Rate of Return calculation was not conducted prior to compact closure. The reason for this was the small size of the grants as well as the likelihood that, given the innovative nature of some of the approaches, evidence ex-ante was likely to be limited. Significant resources were put into ex-post monitoring and evaluation of the IGP overall as well as of several of the individual grants, and MCC is working to include the activities of the Jack Compound water supply grant in the closeout ERR given that it was the largest grant, totaling about $2.3 million.

Examples of grantees included:

  • The non-profit organization Peoples’ Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia (PPHPZ) linked to the compact’s SCAP objective of supporting household connections to the sanitation network in Mtendere. The grant of $1 million supported (i) community mobilization and sensitization; (ii) the training of construction teams from the community; (iii) the planning, design, and construction of toilets with LWSC engagement; and (iv) the establishment of a revolving sanitation loan fund issued to households in the form of constructed toilets and paid back over time.
  • The Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA), citing poor sanitation conditions that affect students’ education, installed bio-latrines[[Bio-latrines are latrines connected to a biogas digester. The design minimizes blockage risks and the challenges of emptying the pit under the latrine, while providing primary treatment for sanitary waste and producing biogas that can be sold to nearby street vendors and businesses.]] that utilize biodigestion technology to process organic waste at ten schools in Lusaka. WASAZA was awarded two grants totaling $355,000 and their work included community engagement, construction of water supply systems, health and hygiene education, and business development training for community biogas entrepreneurs.
  • Through a total of $2.3 million of grant financing across the two rounds of grant selection, private sector company MECB Consulting Limited aimed to improve access to water in the Jack Compound neighborhood of Lusaka by drilling two boreholes, equipping them with energy-saving hybrid solar water pumps, installing a water transmission pipe and water tank, and constructing 30 water kiosks. The project also involved a shared management and operations approach between MECB and LWSC after the completion of construction. This project also tested the viability of a private sector water entity to engage in provision of public services at a community level.

Key output and outcome indicators (from the Indicator Tracking Table)

Institutional Strengthening Activity
Key Performance Indicators Baseline End of Compact Target Closeout Value Percent Compact Target Satisfied
Number of people trained in non-revenue water 0 80 11 14%
Operating cost coverage*[[Total annual operational revenues divided by total annual operating costs. This indicator helps assess the financial health and stability of the utility.]] (%) 107 115 109 33%
Collection Efficiency* (%) 91 100 71.4 71%
Number of beneficiary individuals through the Innovation Grants Program 0 50,000 91,682 183%
Number of people trained in Social Inclusion and Gender Mainstreaming 0 210 320 152%

Explanation of Results

Gender and social mainstreaming work at both LWSC and LCC included development of Gender and Social Inclusion policies, and training of staff to operationalize those practices. The Number of people trained in Social Inclusion and Gender Mainstreaming was tracked as an indicator. The project team originally planned to train only headquarters staff at the implementing entities, and the target was set accordingly. However, it became clear during implementation that community mobilizers and officers in the peri-urban branches were critical to sustainability, so they were also included in the trainings, resulting in a completion rate of 152 percent.

The Innovation Grants Program reached more beneficiaries than expected, 183 percent of the original target, largely due to the fact that it was necessary to estimate the target well before any of the grants projects had been identified. Ultimately, the specific projects selected resulted in more beneficiares than originally anticipated.