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Key activities

Stef is the head of IRC Consult and the acting director of Strategic Partnerships. He is also the coordinator of IRC's country programme in Honduras, and of IRC's other work in Latin America. As such, most of his work experience is in countries in that region, particularly Honduras, Colombia and Bolivia. In addition, he has most experience in Southern Africa (South Africa and Zimbabwe) and India. 

Thematically, he is mainly working on sustainability of rural water supplies and particularly on the institutional arrangements for supporting community-based service providers, and the costs of that. He has also been working on the linkages between WASH services provision and local-level IWRM. His particular attention goes out to multiple-use services, or the provision of water for both domestic and productive uses at household level. Amongst others, he is the secretary of the Multiple-Use Services Group (MUS Group In addition, he is an Executive Steering Committee member of the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN).


Stef Smits graduated as an Irrigation Engineer (MSc) from Wageningen University. He joined IRC in 2001 as part of the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) programme. In that programme he was based at IRC's partners Cinara (in Cali, Colombia) and The Mvula Trust (in Johannesburg, South Africa) for almost three years. Since 2004 he works from IRC's offices in the Hague, working on the above-mentioned themes and regional programme.

Stef es el coordinador del programa regional del IRC en América Latina. Mayor parte de su trabajo se encuentra en los países de esa región, en particular en Honduras, Colombia y Bolivia. Stef es experto en la sostenibilidad del abastecimiento de agua en zonas rurales y los vínculos entre los servicios de WASH y la gestion integrada de recursos hidricos a nivel local. Un tema de interés son los servicios de uso múltiple, o el suministro de agua para usos domésticos y productivos a nivel de hogares. Stef es el secretario del Multiple-Use Services (MUS) Group ( Además, es miembro del Comité de Dirección Ejecutiva de la Red de Abastecimiento de Agua Rural (RWSN).


Dutch, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish

Selected publications

  • Schouten, T. and S. Smits (eds.) 2015. From Infrastructure to Services; Trends in monitoring sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services. Practical Action Publishing UK
  • Van Koppen, B., Smits, S, Rumbaitis del Río, C and J. Thomas. 2014. Scaling Multiple Use Water Services: Accountability in public water sector performance for health and wealth. Practical Action Publishing UK.
  • Renault, D., Wahaj, R. and S. Smits. 2013. Multiple uses of water services in large irrigation systems; Auditing and planning modernization: The MASSMUS Approach. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 67. FAO, Rome, Italy
  • Smits, S., Uytewaal, E. and G. Sturzenegger. 2013. Institutionalizing monitoring of rural water services in Latin America. Lessons from El Salvador, Honduras and Paraguay. Technical Note IDBTN 526. Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC
  • Moriarty, P.; Smits, S.; Butterworth, J. and Franceys, R. 2013. Trends in rural water supply: Towards a service delivery approach. Water Alternatives 6(3): 329-349
  • Smits, S.; Rojas, J. and Tamayo, P. 2013. The impact of support to community-based rural water service providers: Evidence from Colombia. Water Alternatives 6(3): 384-404
  • Smits, S., Verhoeven, J., Moriarty, P., Fonseca, C. and H. Lockwood. 2011. Arrangements and cost of providing support to rural water service providers. WASHCost working paper 5. IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands 
  • H. Lockwood and S. Smits. 2011. Supporting Rural Water Supply: Moving towards a Service Delivery Approach. Practical Action Publishing, UK
  • Smits, S.; van Koppen, B.; Moriarty, P. and Butterworth, J. 2010. Multiple-use services as an alternative to rural water supply services: A characterisation of the approach. Water Alternatives 3(1): 102-121
  • Butterworth, J.; Warner., J.; Moriarty, P.; Smits, S. and Batchelor, C. 2010. Local approaches to Integrated Water Resources Management. Water Alternatives 3(1): 68-81
  • Van Koppen, B. and S. Smits. 2010. Multiple-use water services: climbing the water ladder. Waterlines 29 (1): 5-20
  • Smits, S., Mejía, T., Rodríguez, S. and D. Suazo. 2010. Effects of multiple-use of water on users' livelihoods and sustainability of rural water supply services in Honduras. Waterlines: 29 (1): 37-51
  • Smits, S. Batchelor, C. Schouten, T., Moriarty, P. and J. Butterworth. 2009. Effective WASH sector adaptation to climate change through improved governance. Waterlines 28 (3): 210-218
  • Van Koppen, B.; Smits, S.; Moriarty, P.; Penning de Vries, F.; Mikhail, M. and Boelee, E. 2009. Climbing the water ladder: Multiple-use water services for poverty reduction. Technical Paper Series 52. The Hague, The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and International Water Management Institute 
  • Smits, S.; Moriarty, P. and Sijbesma, C. (eds). 2007. Learning alliances: scaling up innovations in water, sanitation and hygiene. Delft, The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. (Technical paper series; no. 47)