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Published on: 20/12/2022

On Thursday December 1, 2022, in Tamale, the first hybrid IRC WASH Systems Academy training workshop ended with high impressions from participants and the leadership of the coalition of NGOs in water and sanitation (CONIWAS). The three-day blended training workshop benefitted 30 participants drawn from 18 local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) - members of CONIWAS operating in the northern part of Ghana.

Participants of the training session

Using the hybrid approach, the CSO trainees followed the online tailor-made WASH Systems Academy course for Ghana preceded by summary presentations, facilitated discussions, and series of group work. Through a mix of in-person and online engagements, an IRC team of experts - Veronica Ayi-Bonte, Abubakari Wumbei and Harriet Botchway, supported by Jeske Verhoeven and Vera van der Grift facilitated the workshop using the WASH Systems Strengthening - The Basics course and the Building Blocks of Sustainable WASH Systems course of the WASH Systems Academy.

Executive Secretary of CONIWAS (on the right) with some participants after the training session
Executive Secretary of CONIWAS (on the right) with some participants after the training session

Basilia Nanbigne, the Executive Secretary of CONIWAS explained that the tailor-made course introduces participants to ways that demonstrate how to deliver positive change towards water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery, and the need for a systems-wide approach.

"The course explores how we can move from broken pumps to lasting systems, what WASH systems is all about, sanitation systems strengthening, hygiene promotion for systems strengthening, showing the roadmap to sustainable WASH services, and ensuring that no one is left behind… and more," she said. The Executive Secretary lauded IRC for the strategic partnership and the capacity building opportunity offered using the WASH Academy courses.

Iterations and clarifications during the group sessions: Modoc (APDO) with Veronica (IRC)

At the end of the final session on day three, Mr. A.Y.O. Modoc, Executive Director of Afram Plains Development Organisation (APDO) and member of CONIWAS Council of elders said, “I fully agree with the positive comments and high impressions expressed by fellow participants – indeed, this has been insightful and provides an opportunity for us, as WASH practitioners and experts to be more systems conscious. We are excited to be learning more about WASH systems strengthening and hope to apply what we have learnt through this course, into our WASH programming in our districts and beyond.”

Participants of the training session in a group discussion

The CSO participants, in small groups of seven were tasked to build their case for WASH systems strengthening. The groups described and analysed their case areas, discussed key insights and reported back on the third day. They were to complete each session of the online course after the mix of presentations, group exercises and discussions. At the close of the three-day workshop, the majority of participants were not able to complete the six Ghana specific sessions within the given time.

One reason for this was the need to do extensive unpacking of the key concepts as some were either new to the sector or new to the subject matter of systems approach in the Ghanaian context, which sometimes left little time for the online session. Contextualized explanation during the summary presentations and discussions helped address this challenge.

Participants engrossed in hearty group discussions

The trainees found the online audios (podcast) and animations very helpful and called for more of that and less text. They also suggested an extension of time for in-person training in subsequent engagements. Furthermore, they recommended the localisation of the training materials to the Ghanaian context by showcasing more case studies and videos from Ghana, creating links to key national sector documents, and incorporating additional examples and experiences from Ghana.

The purpose of the training was to enable members of CONIWAS to know the basics of how to deliver resilient water and sanitation services and be part of the change needed to leave no one behind. Indeed, the training provided general understanding on the WASH systems strengthening approach, its importance and the entry points for applying systems strengthening within the Ghanaian context for improved advocacy targeting towards sustainable WASH service delivery.

Group presentation at the training session

Participants included institutional members of CONIWAS – a mix of young and well experienced staff from different local and international NGOs, including Pronet North, APDO, WaterAid Ghana, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and a host of others.

Courtesy call of the Northern Regional Minister (middle in smock)

The workshop ended with a call on the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Shani Alhassan Saibu by the leadership of CONIWAS and IRC Ghana to brief him on the training session and to call on him to join in the pursuit of using and adapting systems approaches for real impact in his jurisdiction.

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