When USAID’s Center for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene began planning its session for Stockholm World Water Week, it engaged the Global Waters CKM II team at EnCompass to help it design and deliver a session on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic response. The normally in-person conference was held this year as a full-scale digital event and drew 13,000 participants from 188 countries.

Session planning began months before the event, starting with helping USAID clarify its internal and external goals for the session. From the start, EnCompass helped shape the discussion, reviewing the session plan to ensure it included interactive components and gave appropriate time to each speaker. Based on the team’s recommendations, USAID opted to split a single session into two complementary panels. Our all-woman team was honored to support an all-woman panel that exceeded the conference’s “gold standard.”

The EnCompass team leveraged logistical support and thought partnership to make USAID’s involvement a success. USAID convened the Global Water Coordinator, policymakers, water utility leaders, and USAID program partners from around the world to speak at World Water Week. These speakers had not met before and came from different contexts. EnCompass hosted multiple practice sessions for the speakers and drafted talking points and moderator scripts to support each session; these steps were vital in ensuring discussants felt confident and prepared to engage fully. Drawing on deep experience in virtual production, EnCompass prepared producer guides and coordinated logistics and interactive elements for the virtual conference platform, Pathable.

A range of expertise was needed to support this effort. Chief of Party, Susan Davis, a WASH expert, shaped talking points for moderators and offered prompting questions during practice sessions. Senior Communications Specialist, Barbra Bearden, facilitated practice sessions, prepped speakers, and oversaw messaging and promotion on GlobalWaters.org. Knowledge Management and Content Strategist, Kristen Dayton, ran a complex yet seamless production on Zoom via Pathable for both sessions, including preparing and refining pre-recorded content for the sessions.

Going the extra mile makes a big difference. Planning for important public events requires flexibility, precognition, and occasional acts of heroism. The EnCompass team supported outreach, created back-up videos of each speaker in anticipation of possible connectivity issues, and woke up (or stayed up!) to produce a 2 a.m. Eastern Time session, scheduled to appeal to participants in Africa and Europe. These extra efforts produced results, helped USAID reach a broader audience, and positioned USAID as a thoughtful contributor to this global event. Our client was thrilled.


Watch part 1 and 2 of Applying WASH Lessons from COVID-19 to Future Resilience Challenges.