Learning for Change
The complexity of the WASH sector calls for trial and error, systematic joint reflection and adaptation. A learning and adaptive sector has mechanisms and platforms throughout the sector to enable stakeholders to learn together. Continuous learning and the capacity of sector stakeholders to adjust (i.e., “adaptive capacity”) are critical elements of sustainable WASH services at scale.
Over the years, IRC has supported sector stakeholders to learn together and advocated for a learning and adaptive sector. Under the theme ‘learning for change’ IRC examines and consolidates experience and lessons learned on how multi-stakeholder learning can contribute to equitable and sustainable WASH service delivery.
Learning for Change has emerged from IRC’s work on a range of concepts and approaches to support learning, innovation, knowledge sharing and collaboration in the WASH sector. We draw upon work on ‘Learning Alliances’ and ‘Resource Centre Development’ to support capacity development and knowledge management towards a process of ‘Sector Learning’ .
The focus on decentralized learning (e.g. at district and sub-county levels) has been strong in Uganda since 2007 and is documented here.
by Carmen da Silva- Wells and Jeske Verhoeven, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre (2013)
A learning and adaptive sector engages in continual learning and reflection and is able to adapt to changing circumstances and demands. Building a learning sector with the capacity to continually innovate, evolve and adapt—based on evidence—is a must for delivering sustainable services.
Learning and adaptive management require information and knowledge flows throughout the sector, including sound monitoring data and documentation of local innovations, mechanisms and opportunities for joint reflection, sharing of experience and generation of new knowledge and up-to-date and accessible information repositories.
WASH resource centre networks are groups of WASH organisations that act as knowledge brokers and learning facilitators. Since the 1990s, IRC has built the capacities of resource centres to enhance their role as knowledge and information brokers and as facilitators of sector change.
This paper presents lessons learnt on improving learning in the WASH sector through resource centre networks in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Honduras, Nepal and Uganda between 2009 and 2012.
Providing WASH services that last entails change by different stakeholders. We need to learn why our existing approaches are not always fully effective, and we need to build on best practices to improve our implementation models. Learning what works and doesn’t and encouraging change for the better is crucial for achieving sustainable WASH service delivery. It can help to use scarce resources better, to improve the performance of WASH facilities for all and indefinitely.
IRC supports sector stakeholders at local, national and international levels to reflect on progress and failures, to learn from each other and convert these lessons into adapted policies, practices, models and tools. Under the theme ‘learning for change’ IRC focuses on consolidating experience and lessons and improving our understanding of how joint learning can contribute to equitable and sustainable WASH service delivery. This factsheet highlights some of the work that IRC is doing.
Learning for change factsheet.docx (430.8 kB)
This blog was set up by the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and is maintained by its staff, mainly Carmen DaSilva Wells. It is dedicated to learning for change. And it is focused on development cooperation, with special emphasis on the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.
The following concepts and initiatives are covered: Sector learning; Learning alliances; Resource centre networks;Sector-wide approaches and harmonisation; and Change management applied to complex sets of institutions.
IRC has developed a training package on improved governance for decentralised WASH and IWRM services. The package is called WASHIRIKA and is available online. Resources on learning and sharing and Frequently Asked Questions are available here
To provide WASH services for all, forever, sector stakeholders need to jointly monitor current practices and policies, analyse their own experience and that of other WASH interventions, reflect on the successes and failures, and design and implement adaptations that improve service delivery. This kind of learning is the key to better results and scaling up. Sector learning enables the sector to anticipate, respond actively to and influence a rapidly changing environment.
Many projects, programmes and developmental processes document outcomes and compile the positive impacts of an intervention for an external audience. By contrast, process documentation records and supports the process itself. In particular, it looks at the change process through the eyes of those involved in it, and reflects their diverging points of view.
Social change is a non‐linear and often unpredictable process. Documenting the change process, successes and challenges is vitally important for learning from and improving upon the work carried out in development initiatives.
Documentation can be in written form- such as case studies, fact sheets, blogs, policy briefs, but also time-lines, maps, drawings and comics, - as well as in audio-visual formats such as videos and photo stories.
The purpose of the study is to establish the efficiency and effectiveness of existing coordination platforms in the Uganda WASH Sector in facilitating learning and reflection processes in the sector and how this can be improved.
Monitoring, capacity development and learning for improvement are often addressed as separate processes. By linking monitoring with learning and capacity development, we can take action for improvement. There is a clear need to strengthen continuous collaborative monitoring processes and ensure that they contribute to building the capacities of sector stakeholders for providing sustainable water and sanitation services for everyone.
“The video raises many important governance issues, like partnerships and not to leave everything to communities, transparency in funds management, gender and equity for disadvantaged groups. It helps us see these issues more clearly.” “I have used it in several trainings here, to send the message”. These are two of the 11 comments made on the Seventh Video on Community Water Supply Management by eight participants of the WASH Governance Testing Workshop held in Morogoro, Tanzania, 17th and 18th November 2011.