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Why sector learning has a vital role in WASH service delivery challenges

Published on: 28/03/2014

A report from the launch of the Regional Level Learning Alliance Platform for Ghana's Brong Ahafo region.

The Brong Ahafo regional director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr Emmanuel Forster Boateng, has stated that there is a need for sector learning to help address challenges facing the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana.

CWSA is the government agency responsible for facilitating the provision of water and related sanitation services in rural and small town communities. It is also the host institution of the Triple-S project in Ghana.

'The Learning Alliance approach will help address a number of development challenges in the sector, including the uptake of research findings and bringing innovation to scale.'

Mr Boateng's remark was at the launch and initial meeting of the Regional Level Learning Alliance Platform for the Brong Ahafo region in Sunyani.

The regional learning alliance platform exists to provide opportunity for WASH sector practitioners and stakeholders to meet, share ideas, plan and harmonise the execution of WASH-related projects in the region. It will also help avoid duplication of project implementation and contribute to sharing of best practices.

The establishment of the platform at regional levels, and soon at the district level, will allow horizontal communication between different institutions operating at these levels, and encourage vertical communication between field experience and the highest levels of policy making. This is the third in the series of regional learning platforms being launched after that of Tamale (Northern Region) and Ho (Volta Region).

Mr Boateng stated: "The Learning Alliance approach will help address a number of development challenges in the sector, including the uptake of research findings and bringing innovation to scale. Under this approach, stakeholders will be organised into platforms and facilitated in working together on WASH thematic areas."

The value of a Learning Alliance

"As the country works towards meeting the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on universal water coverage by 2025, steps ought to be taken to address challenges of fragmentation of approaches to water service delivery; weak coordination of project implementation; gap between policy and practice; and barriers to the uptake of innovative practices among actors which have plagued the sector," he added.

Mr Boateng said he hoped the platform will help bring stakeholders on board to learn and share ideas to improve WASH service delivery in the Brong Ahafo Region, and gave the commitment of CWSA in the region to the sustainability of the platform in the region.

He concluded by expressing his appreciation to the various institutions who contributed in the formation and organisation of the platform and the maiden meeting.

Constitution of the new platform

Participants for the first learning session were drawn from academia, governmental departments and agencies and non-government organisations.

Mr Abu Wumbei, the National Coordinator of the Resource Centre Network (RCN), the organisation responsible for the National Level learning Alliance, and Veronica Ayi-Bonte of IRC Ghana facilitated the maiden edition of the platform. Mr Wumbei also made presentations on Knowledge Management (KM) and the Learning Alliance under the theme, Improving Regional KM system through the Learning Alliance Approach. Participants were divided into three groups during the group work session. They were asked to deliberate and come up with a draft shared vision and also factors they considered as the strengths, weaknesses and way-forward for the platform in the region.

A framework for the operation of the regional learning platform was agreed. A Core Group of eight member organisations was constituted to steer the activities of the platform with a secretariat to be hosted by CWSA. The core group comprised institutions/organisations drawn from governmental, non-governmental, academia and media. They include, the CWSA/Triple-S, Centre for Sustainable Development, Regional Environmental Health Department, Global Media Foundation, Sunyani Polytechnic, GWCL and 2-local NGOs (SODIA and MIHOSO).

The Core Group will be responsible for the running of the platform and the host institution/secretariat will be responsible for coordinating core group and platform meetings/activities. The core group agreed to meet on Thursday July 11, 2013 to discuss and agree on some of the outstanding pertinent issues, such as the frequency of meetings, funding mechanisms, facilitation and documentation. Already, CWSA has committed the use of its conference hall and other facilities for the hosting of the platform. It is expected that when the outstanding issues are discussed and agreed on, a memorandum of understanding will be developed and signed by the core group members to keep the commitments in focus.

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