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Published on: 20/09/2023

Covers of 2 new Agenda for Change publications on systems strengthening and systems change

This news item is largely based on two blog posts published on the Agenda for Change News and Updates page.

Established in May 2015, Agenda for Change is a collaboration of 14 like-minded organisations that have adopted a set of common principles and approaches. Its members work collectively to advocate for, and support national and local governments in, strengthening their water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems. Agenda for Change recently added two new resources to its systems library. Both are available in English, French and Spanish.

Priority conditions for institutionalising systems strengthening

Institutionalising water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems strengthening is a long-term process that varies between organisations based on the scale of their operations as well as their priorities, funding, and focus areas. A new think piece distils learnings from Agenda for Change members' ongoing processes. It details six priority conditions organisations should focus on creating when institutionalising the approach and highlights common milestones. These six conditions are: (i) organisation-wide buy-in and support; (ii) tailored approaches; (iii) supporting and leveraging partnerships; (iv) upskilling and training; (v) modifying monitoring and learning processes; and (vi) securing sufficient unearmarked and long-term funding.

Stories of systems change

Achieving national level systems change is usually the result of years of collaborative engagement and advocacy by like-minded people and organisations, using a variety of tactics and soft skills and putting in time and effort to bring it about. A second Agenda for Change paper documents five stories of change from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Malawi, and Uganda based on interviews with a change maker from each country.

Each story provides a personal account of what happened, challenges encountered along the way, and the tactics, soft skills and resourcing that helped to achieve it.

Three of the five national-level systems changes achieved are about developing and implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) policy documents: a climate-resilient finance strategy in Malawi, revising the national sector plan for achieving universal access to WASH by 2030 in Honduras, and harmonising data collection for WASH in Uganda. The other two changes refer first and foremost to a shift in mindsets, namely a clear sector commitment to achieving Open Defecation Free provinces in Cambodia and to popularising systems change concepts in partnership with a national sector training institute in Ethiopia.

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