Published on: 30/08/2016
At the 6th Africa Water Week, IRC - International Water and Sanitation Centre, convened a session to discuss the importance of knowledge management and sector learning as essential components in strengthening national WASH sector systems, and make appropriate recommendations.
The adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) provides a new context for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. Achieving the Africa Water vision 2025, the Agenda 2065 and the SDG6 target of universal access require innovation and application of the best and proven methods and approaches. But what are the required methods, approaches, institutional arrangements, finances and tools? Who has the capacity to find and develop contextualized solutions?
In the recently concluded 6th Africa Water Week, IRC - International Water and Sanitation Centre, convened a session to discuss the importance of knowledge management and sector learning as essential components in strengthening national WASH sector systems.
The session was convened under the under the auspices of Africa Joint WASH Learning Initiative, which brings together a group of partners that are committed to coordinating learning activities for purposes of achieving SDGs. The session intended to generate recommendations on how knowledge management and sector learning can become an integrated part of the envisioned Africa roadmap to implement high level commitments towards achieving SDGS in the WASH sector.
Basing on three case studies, participants tried to find answers to three key questions:
The ensuing discussions raised key questions and proposals on how sector learning can be better coordinated and more effective to ensure that it contributes to the attainment of universal access to WASH.
Kitchinme Bawa Gotau of African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) posed the question: How relevant and effective are the knowledge management and sector learning activities? Who defines the WASH learning agenda? He called for a strategic framework for knowledge management and learning and better coordination of learning activities in Africa. He recommended that actors had to strike the right partnerships. He also stressed the need for the right political leadership and stronger involvement of African actors and institutions. "There is need to be led by a regionally rooted African institution and hope that AMCOW will take this role. The Africa joint WASH learning initiative is part of the effort to change the way we do things," Gotau said.
Sharing learning and KM experience of the African groundwater network, Mustafa Dienne of Université Cheikh Anta Diop noted that Africa had many groundwater sites across the continent but there are challenges about the knowledge surrounding them. Often times, there is no information available to users especially in terms of guidelines. Failures are not documented and groundwater maps are not available. There is a missing link between researchers and practitioners. He emphasized the need to share all information between individuals and institutions.
More issues arose from the presentation about learning on collective behavior change in sanitation, under the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF). The presentation highlighted the strengths of peer learning between countries, which have led to the adoption of good practices like Follow Up MANDONA in the GSF. Learning and Knowledge Management under the GSF has also led to the to the budding of a Francophone Learning network, taking into account the limited opportunities for Francophone countries to engage in international learning and exchange.
Some countries are already taking steps to plan strategically for KM and learning. Ousmane Ouedraogo from the Ministry of Water and Sanitation in Burkina Faso presented the country's strategic direction for KM and Learning. Called upon participants to reflect on how actors in Africa can align the knowledge management and sector learning agenda at continental and international levels with national issues and priorities for the realisation of SDG 6. He also called upon actors to develop strategies to ensure adequate and sustainable funding of Knowledge Management in the sector at national level.
At end of the session, participants agreed that to achieve SDG6, it is important to strengthen national level learning and knowledge management bearing in mind the following recommendations.