Skip to main content

Published on: 04/08/2023

Since its inception in 2019, the WASH Systems Academy has become a learning hub for WASH sector professionals on all things systems strengthening. We have garnered 6000+ users as of 2023 and have partnered with several organisations while we continuously expand our courses on the Academy. Just like everything at IRC and in the WASH sector, the Academy is dynamic and constantly evolving to better meet the needs of the sector.

At the start of the year, I had this great opportunity to do research on how the WASH Systems Academy is doing. As an intern at IRC, I worked with the team that co-created the training content and materials. It was mainly a hands-on approach linked to the Academy's activities such as building, translating, and delivering the courses, to the promotion of them through the various channels. This process provided me with rich insights and lessons that I can use in my future career.

I would like to share some of the learnings that I gathered for IRC.

"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn."
― Phil Collins

WASH Systems Academy

Delivery of our online courses

IRC has structured our courses to suit different needs by blending e-learning and in-person training. The result is improved engagement and satisfaction of users.

A study that compared the cases demonstrated that overall, the three learning arrangements were based on the reactions of the users, with completion rates of 21, 65, and 100% for MOOC, MOOC with structured support, and MOOC with blended learning, respectively. The MOOC with a blended learning approach was the most effective in terms of performance. This approach allowed participants to have a better understanding of the content with extra face-to-face support while completing the course.


Content creation for the courses

To make the platform more interactive and engaging, each course provides a variety of media to learn in fun and creative ways. From podcasts, animations, forums, DIY presentations, and tools, there's something for everyone to enjoy. We share here an example of an animation from one of our many courses; the 'WASH Systems Strengthening: the Basics' course. Watch: It's about strengthening WASH systems


Customisation & partnerships

The WASH Systems Academy courses are tailored to specific audiences. IRC and partners are working hard to make them available in different languages. There are currently courses available in French, English, and Spanish. Other languages such as Amharic, Oromo, and Russian, are in development.

The course content is also customised to the regions, contexts, and organisations for which they are developed, and IRC is continuously scaling the impact by partnering with training institutions and organisations in different countries.

By subscribing to the biannual newsletter, current and former participants get the opportunity to reach out and stay in touch and updated on new courses as they are being developed and launched.

Work in progress

Throughout the years IRC has harnessed e-learning as a major tool for capacity development and it is continuing to evolve and improve the Academy as a key learning platform in the sector. Right now, IRC is reflecting on how to boost female participation and make the Academy more user-friendly for actors working at the district level.

In a nutshell

Developing an online course requires a deep understanding of how people learn and assimilate knowledge. Without the advantage of face-to-face instruction, IRC relies on user interface design and content creation to keep people engaged in the course. The courses are intentionally designed to stimulate different parts of the brain using audio-visual content. The real challenge is to have users take ownership of the systems strengthening approach in their own work, so IRC use case studies and examples from all over the world that users can relate to. The courses are therefore tailored to diverse audiences, and IRC is still learning how to bring more people to the table. If you're willing to become a systems leader and guarantee sustainable access to water and sanitation, the WASH Systems Academy is the best place to start.

Get started with the WASH Systems Academy

This blog was kindly reviewed by Vera van der Grift and Tettje van Daalen


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.

Back to
the top