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Dissemination meeting on SWS learning partnership in Afar Region

Published on: 07/10/2021

USAID Sustainable WASH Systems learning partnership project (SWS) conducted a document dissemination event in Afar region.

For the past five years (2017 – 2021) the SWS project has been working with Afar Region Water, Irrigation and Energy Bureau and Mille Woreda government and other actors to ensure effective WASH services access to everyone in the woreda. The project has been facilitating learning alliances as an entry point for collective action and to understand WASH service delivery systems, strengthening water infrastructure asset management systems and maintenance arrangement and develop a master plan which is targeted to deliver sustainable and improved WASH services to everyone by 2030.

SWS has been collaborating with USAID Lowland WASH activities during the implementation in Afar region.

In the event conducted on September 20, 2021, in the capital of Afar region, Semera, the discussants iterated that to create a robust and sustainable WASH system, all WASH sector actors from the woreda up to the region should be responsible and they should use the learnings and documents developed in the learning partnership so far. It is also suggested to expand the Mille Woreda's experience to other woredas of the region.

The dissemination event discussed the outcomes and learnings, and the documents developed during the project period are disseminated to the woreda WASH sector offices and the regional bureaus. The project published 11 learning alliance meeting reports, the Mille Woreda Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) WASH master plan, a briefing note on real – time monitoring for improved water services in the Ethiopian lowlands, a learning paper on Afar asset management system uptake and use, a research report on a local systems analysis for rural water service delivery in South Ari (SNNPR) and Mile (Afar), and a resource mobilisation and implementation strategy for the woreda’s SDG WASH master plan.

Major activities and the way forward

In its journey, the project has been supporting and strengthening Mille Woreda WASH monitoring systems, the establishment and facilitation of learning alliances, asset management and maintenance, long-term planning (district WASH master plan), institutional and human capacity building, and the knowledge management and documentation process.

In supporting the WASH monitoring system, the project has been developing and working on customisation of a WASH monitoring system, updating the system, and supplying computers and smart phones for monitoring.

To leverage maintenance and infrastructure management, the partnership has been promoting innovations in this field. The project also capacitated the woreda to develop a long-term plan, the SDG master plan, and to implement a financial plan and resource mobilisation strategy.

Institutional capacity building support was focused on training regional and woreda staff on monitoring, specifically on data collection, use and updating the system. Training on water scheme management and maintenance, WASH long-term planning (with coaching), and trainings and follow-up support on rural water supply for woredas, WASHCOs and caretakers were also major activities.

Regarding knowledge management, the main activities were capturing quarterly learning alliance meetings in reports, and documentation of practices such as monitoring, maintenance and long-term planning.

To sustain the progress so far, the discussion suggested continuing to utilise a regional asset management system, encouraging all WASH development partners working in the region to support and use the asset management system, continuing to implement Mille Woreda’s WASH SDG master plan, with the support of development partners, and persisting in facilitating the learning alliance meetings of the woreda.