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 tested 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 addressed a variety of sectoral challenges and factors that influence WASH service delivery.
In its role as the learning partner, Environmental Incentives supported consortium members to test system-strengthening actions aimed at:
- Improving the way in which the network actors involved in WASH services interact, and
- Addressing the factors that affect the likelihood that WASH services will be sustained.
By providing technical input and guidance, we built competencies in monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes critical to understanding progress and enabling adaptive management. We also coordinated 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 developed the messages and pathways to share learning effectively and conveyed our findings in an actionable and inspiring way.
SWS research and activities were captured in a series of flagship knowledge products, designed to inform and influence key audiences in the WASH sector. It is hoped that as USAID, other development institutions, and key local and global actors apply this learning, global WASH programming will be improved, leading to greater at scale sustainability of WASH services.
SUSTAINABLE WASH SYSTEMS END OF PROJECT REPORT
CLOSEOUT EVENT AND LEARNING SERIES
COLLECTIVE ACTION IN WASH: LESSONS AND FINDINGS FROM 11 COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES