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Although most people acknowledge the importance of learning for improving performance in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, in practice key information and knowledge are too often not (or only partly) used for the planning and implementation of interventions.

The UNICEF-IRC partnership for Knowledge Management and Sector Learning (KMSL) aimed to raise awareness of the importance of learning in 11 West and Central African (WCAR) countries and the region and to explore possibilities for how these learning processes can be better supported. The partnership project used the findings of interviews with more than 100 professionals from government, civil society and academia in nine different countries. In addition, a survey was held among 30 professionals from regional platforms, networks and organisations, involved in learning activities in WASH in the WCAR and African region. A central role in the partnership was played by the UNICEF country offices, carrying out the surveys and discussing approaches and priorities. The UNICEF regional office and IRC played a supporting role, providing conceptual and methodological guidance.

The partnership also explored possibilities to strengthen the organisational capacity of in-country learning at regional level and to facilitate inter-country and regional knowledge and information exchange on WASH in the WCAR. The countries included in the partnership programme are Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Niger and Nigeria. The UNICEF–IRC for KMSL partnership is part of the broader acceleration of the Sanitation and Water for All programme and is funded by DGIS, DfID, UNICEF and IRC.

After the assessments of current learning and sharing practices in the WASH sector in nine countries, seven countries started to develop KMSL action plans, which focus broadly on one or more of the following themes:

  • access to information;
  • exchange of ideas and practices;
  • capacity to create knowledge; and
  • contribute to sector coordination and review.

The latter reflects the common concern of how to make KMSL operational and directly contribute to sector performance. The regional survey showed that capacity to support knowledge development and learning in the region is available in both institutions and platforms, but is fragmented and often guided by a global (rather than regional) learning agenda. Anchoring learning in the region with African leadership can provide coordination and ensure that the agenda addresses more specific needs from the region.

A number of publications and reports related to the KMSL UNICEF-IRC partnership can be found here:

Resources