Collective action towards WASH systems strengthening

People seated around multiple tables in conference hall

by Alec Shannon

What does it take to keep water, sanitation and hygiene services going? Strong systems. Simply put, systems strengthening involves supporting actors and factors. Actors include national and local government authorities, service providers, service users, and private sector entities.  Factors include financing, regulation, technology and much more.  In recent years, several organizations and collaborations have been working collectively to strengthen national and local WASH systems.

One such organization is Agenda for Change, a collaboration of like-minded organizations that have adopted a set of common principles and approaches to support national and local governments in strengthening the systems required to deliver universal and sustained access to WASH services. At the global level, Agenda for Change members and other organizations have collaborated in the following ways:

Hosting discussions on systems funding challenges. A funder gathering, co-convened by Agenda for Change and Millennium Water Alliance at World Water Week, brought together 20 representatives from multilateral organizations, institutional development agencies, private and corporate foundations, and charitable organizations to discuss their challenges in funding systems strengthening efforts. Highlights from the group conversations are available here.

Sharing evidence of stronger systems:  Agenda for Change hosted its fifth annual breakfast to kick off Stockholm World Water Week. Agenda for Change members are strengthening WASH systems in more than 20 countries. Speakers highlighted evidence of stronger systems in San Pedro, Bolivia, Kampala, Uganda, Madagascar, and Nicaragua. Read more about the event here.

Building the community of practice. In support of the growing community of practice on WASH systems strengthening, Agenda for Change, Millennium Water Alliance, and WaterAid co-convened an event during Stockholm World Water Week called “Deep Dive into WASH Systems Strengthening”. The event brought together 80 people for lively discussions on six systems strengthening themes. You can learn more about the event here.

Fostering further collaboration. Agenda for Change, Millennium Water Alliance, Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), and the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), among others, are discussing ways to make the WASH systems community of practice more purposeful and inclusive. We hope to enable wider engagement across the sector by using existing platforms, such as RWSN’s D-groups or the SuSanA forum. We are actively seeking additional collaboration and welcome those who would like to contribute, or who have resources to share.

Expanding engagement and collaboration. Thanks to WASHfunders, the community of practice recently inherited the @WASHfunders Twitter handle, which had 11,000 followers from around the world. We changed it to @WASHstrong and plan to use it as a tool for sharing resources and continuing the WASH systems conversation. Currently, it is managed by Agenda for Change, but we are eager for others working on WASH systems strengthening to do Twitter takeovers.

This blog was written by Alec Shannon, Content Strategist at Agenda for Change