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Published on: 26/09/2019

WASH Systems Academy hub image

This is a huge recognition of the cutting-edge nature of the work IRC has prided itself on undertaking for the past five decades and demonstrates our commitment to continuing to use the most innovative and creative ways to share knowledge. The WASH Systems Academy has been nominated as a finalist for the Spindle Award because of the platform itself, the way it’s structured and the approach it shares. 

You might now be asking, what do we mean by systems?

IRC have been at the forefront of leading the systems approach within the WASH sector, taking lessons from Health and Education systems. Essentially it means looking beyond just one-off projects and aid-based initiatives that fund the construction of new pumps and toilets, and also consider the systems around the infrastructure that are needed to keep these services running. In Africa in particular, as many as 40% of water and sanitation services do not function as they should, delivering insufficient or unsafe water supplies, even breaking down completely, only a few short years after construction.

In short, pipes, pumps and toilets do not deliver a service. Only a strong system made up of sufficient finance, planning, regulations, water resources management and so on can deliver a safe, reliable service and ensure no one is left behind.

What is needed is a different approach, one which understands and considers the world and its complexity.

So, what's so special about the WASH Systems Academy? 

Well, it’s the first and only free online platform developed to empower professionals from around the world with the knowledge and tools to create strong systems that can deliver lasting water and sanitation services for all.

It is a collaborative platform with examples of the many (and increasing!) organisations involved in WASH systems strengthening. We all know that strong systems can only be built together in partnership.

Go to the WASH Systems Academy landing page

And why is it different from any other online course?

It’s designed to be fun, interactive, engaging and free! People can follow an intensive 16-hour self-guided basic course on ‘WASH Systems Strengthening’. But it is not full of boring long-winded texts. The sessions are made up of short podcasts, fun animations and quizzes. You can also connect with other participants in the forums, create your own materials and do much more.

Watch this short video to get a taste:


"After years of hearing and reading about WASH systems strengthening and working some of the concepts into our organisation's culture and activities, the WASH systems academy has given clear definition and valuable tools I need to better engage with the WASH sector in the Central African Republic. Going through the WASH Systems Academy is not just a good idea, I would say it is necessary." - David De Armey, Water for Good.

What exactly does it cover?

“WASH systems strengthening: the basics” is an introduction to everything you ever thought you needed to know but were afraid to ask about systems thinking and WASH. This foundational course consists of 9 interactive and engaging sessions dedicated to topics such as the origins and rationale for a systems strengthening approach, hygiene promotion, service ladders, how to leave no one behind—among many other topics. You will also learn about the building blocks of the WASH system; what they are and how they collectively create sustainable WASH systems.

Anything else?

Would you like to support the WASH Systems Academy? Be involved in designing some of our up and coming expert courses on sanitation, finance, fragile states and more? Then do get in touch via for a chat.


At IRC we have strong opinions and we value honest and frank discussion, so you won't be surprised to hear that not all the opinions on this site represent our official policy.

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