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Sustainable services remain a daunting challenge in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector. While significant funding has flowed to the construction and expansion of services such as water pumps and latrines in rural areas, less emphasis has been placed on sustaining and maintaining these services to ensure long-term operation and delivery. With varying financial, political, and social factors influencing how systems operate in each local context, standardized approaches have resulted in prematurely failing systems and investment losses.
To improve future effectiveness of WASH programs, the Sustainable WASH Systems (SWS) Learning Partnership is testing new ideas, approaches, and tools to overcome barriers for improving WASH service sustainability. A global U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cooperative agreement led by the University of Colorado Boulder and a consortium of eight partners, SWS will address a variety of sectoral challenges and factors that influence WASH service delivery.
In its role as the learning partner, Environmental Incentives supports consortium members to test system-strengthening actions aimed at:
By providing technical input and guidance, we’re building competencies in monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes critical to understanding progress and enabling adaptive management. We also coordinate consortium-wide opportunities for learning, such as an annual “pause and reflect” meeting, guiding the consortium to review progress against the SWS theory of change and learning agenda, while providing opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange, and stock-taking of new evidence and changing contexts. As the lead for communications and knowledge management, we develop the messages and pathways to share learning effectively and convey our findings in an actionable and inspiring way.
Lessons from SWS research and activities will be captured and shared within knowledge products, designed to inform and influence key audiences in the WASH sector. The initiative seeks to improve ongoing and future investments by USAID in WASH programs, as well as catalyze national and international uptake of successful systems change approaches that will improve sustainability of the sector overall.
As the learning partner on the Sustainable WASH Systems project, Environmental Incentives supported us to develop a robust monitoring, evaluation, and learning system that we expect to inform our decision-making processes and generate evidence for both the consortium and the larger Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene sector.”
Eddy Perez, Former Chief of Party, USAID Sustainable WASH Systems project, University of Colorado Boulder