Published on: 18/10/2022
IRC WASH, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Water Technology Institute (EWTI), hosted a three-day blended training on WASH systems strengthening using the WASH Systems Academy’s customised Basics course for Ethiopia. Nineteen participants from local universities and national and sub-national WASH sector institutions took part in the training.
Mr. Lemessa Mekonta, IRC WASH Ethiopia’s Country Director, addressed two major problems of the WASH sector in Ethiopia in his welcoming speech. He stated that there is a lack of fairness in WASH coverage across different geographies and sustainability challenges are the major issues. He added as a pioneer on systems thinking, IRC WASH developed the WASH Systems Academy in collaboration with other organisations to contribute to solving the sustainability challenges by looking at the WASH sector more holistically. According to Lemessa, the objectives of the training were to reach sector professionals with the concepts of systems thinking, exchanging views on what needs to be done differently to address the sustainability challenges, and get feedback to improve the course.
Welcome speech by IRC Ethiopia Country Director Lemessa Mekonta
Mr. Tamiru Fekadu, EWTI’s Deputy Director General, in his message to the participants said that EWTI has four key roles that include action research and technology transfer, specialised laboratory services, sector support, and training. As part of its training role, EWTI signed an MoU with IRC WASH in 2019 to provide WASH systems strengthening training. Following the signing of the MoU, IRC WASH trained EWTI’s trainers. Since then, EWTI has promoted the WASH Systems Academy to its trainees, and many have completed different courses of the academy. The partnership also provided blended training to Arba Minch University. He emphasised the need to implement the learnings from training and the persistent commitment of EWTI in follow-up and ongoing support.
The trainees had a minimum level of education of a first degree and were dominantly male, although two female participants from university attended. Eight trainees completed online training prior to this training.
Previous online training
Water sector (national & sub-national)
In the blended training approach, trainees complete the course online and then the facilitator leads discussions to enhance better understanding. Training facilitators and participants shared their practical experience using issues on the ground. Mohammed Nurye from Woliday University said he previously did the course alone but did not gain a good understanding of the concepts. But the discussions during the blended training helped him to understand the concepts better. Mohammed said, ‘’The blended approach is much more productive than self-paced learning.”
Tilik Tena Wondim from Bahir Dar University said, “The materials are good as a beginner, but the discussions were more important.” He added the training helped trainees know where the sector is in terms of service delivery and what needs to be done differently. He also added "the platform is different from other online platforms because it utilises multiple methods of delivering information through text, audio, and video, and the training methodology requires sharing experience face to face". He suggested participation of sector leadership on similar trainings to enforce implementation. He also suggested group discussions be a part of the training to make it more participatory. He advised participants to read again and again to foster better understanding to deliver the training to co-workers and apply it in their day-to-day work.
Mamo Yalew, the Amhara Region Scheme Management Director said, “Participants need to mainstream the concepts during plan revision as this fiscal year’s planning is already due”. He also requested follow-up from EWTI and IRC WASH to make sure participants start applying the concepts and cascade the training to their co-workers.
Dr. Mesfin Benti from Adama University said, “…I believe the number of female trainees is low because the number of females in the sector in general is small’’. As an example, he mentioned that the number of female graduates in the field of engineering from Adama University is less than 25% of the total number of students.
Upon completion of the training, participants worked out action plans on what they will do next. Their plans focused on cascading the training to their colleagues and fellow students, working to identify gaps in their local WASH system, better coordinating with local stakeholders, and begin piloting changes and tracking progress in their implementation.