allocation, community evaluation can provide workable knowledge for future projects and create a better sense of community ownership. In the end, Jennie Ward Robinson of the Institute for Public Health and Water Research noted that community-centered approaches coupled with intervention strategies are necessary if the global community is going to reach the Millennium Development Goals for water. She asserted that current evaluation strategies are not aligned with the goals and misguide program allocations.
Currently, some participants noted that there is a gap between research on sustainability and policy for implementing sustainable water services. The lack of evaluation and evidence-based science was identified as one of the main challenges in bridging the gap between research and policy. Nathan noted that the lack of evaluation fails to provide the facts, data, and evidence needed to further future policy, and, if there is not a commitment to remedy this situation, the policies developed will not be strategic. However, some participants noted that policy should be also community and population driven. Policy makers are ultimately moved by their constituents’ needs and demands. Ward Robinson asserted that policy actions also need to be tied to evidence-based education of the policy makers. Furthermore, any policy development needs to incorporate a three-pronged approach (research, education, and community engagement) if effective policies are to be formulated. For water services, she noted that these three approaches need to happen in parallel so that water services plans are appropriate for the community, fiscally sound, and sustainable.
A third barrier identified by members of the group was the absence of leadership at the national level. Currently, researchers and agencies are not in a position to share lessons learned and best practices in a coordinated effort owing to a lack of a national clearinghouse for water practices. A national organization could synthesize the science and create an accessible database for all agencies and nongovernmental organizations, noted some participants. With a national database, future agencies and organizations can investigate what technologies are currently working and under what conditions. This will make better use of the funds and prevent overlap (continuation) of research. Ward Robinson further suggested that the clearinghouse would also serve to coordinate the efforts of donors. Ideally, she suggested, this clearinghouse would allow for policy makers, potential donors, and experts in the field to elicit information on current interventions under way, as well as who is working in particular research areas and geographical regions. Accessing this information, she noted, will allow for