Skip to main content

Building blocks for strong and healthy WASH systems

Published on: 17/09/2018

IRC working paper describes what's needed to improve and strengthen service delivery.

Nine essential building blocks of the WASH system, as defined by IRC

Over the past decade, IRC has developed and refined its understanding of systems thinking as it applies to WASH. We have adopted building blocks as a way of understanding and tackling the complexities of the WASH system. Strengthening the WASH system is integral to delivering safe and sustainable WASH services.

Our new working paper "Understanding the WASH system and its building blocks" presents a set of nine building blocks of WASH systems intended to reduce complexity to a manageable level, enabling and supporting action whilst neither oversimplifying reality nor losing sight of the entirety of the broader WASH system.

By assessing the condition of each of the building blocks – institutions, policy and legislation, finance, regulation and accountability, monitoring, planning, infrastructure, water resource management, and learning and adaptation – and of the linkages between them, WASH practitioners can identify weak points and target their interventions for greater effect.

This working paper is the first in a new IRC WASH systems series. Two more are on their way: one focusing on the ‘how’ of systems strengthening and the second on how to monitor and measure the strength of WASH systems.

Also relevant is the Agenda for Change district roadmap to universal access to sustainable services that provides a more applied approach to strengthening the WASH system and its building blocks at the district level.

You can download the new building blocks working paper and the Agenda for Change roadmap in the Resources section below.