Skip to main content

Published on: 28/03/2012

Nearly 60 representatives from 44 WASH organisations made commitments to put the service delivery approach into action. Delegates of the London Sustainable WASH learning event, which took place on 31 January 2012, identified actions for their respective organisations and how they can work together more effectively to bring lasting WASH services to communities predominantly across the global south. The day-long event centred on identifying changes for organisations in order to help influence the sector to move away from solely providing WASH infrastructure towards providing sustainable WASH services.

Attendees recognised that supporting this shift, known as the service delivery approach, requires changing the way they work and addressing barriers to change within their own organisations—moving beyond the ‘business as usual approach’. Professor Richard Carter, head of technical support for WaterAid, highlighted that the first step in making internal change, which can then translate into external influence, is to build organisation-wide understanding of the new framework for sustainable services.

Debates from the learning event unmasked several barriers to organisation-wide as well as sector-wide changes. These include: the absence of a clearly defined and agreed-upon sustainability standard, as well as weak communications within the WASH sector. Participants cited the need to share credible evidence and promote messages that improve people’s understanding and awareness of sustainable WASH services via sharpened communications and increased coordination of organisations. They also eagerly discussed ways donors and implementing partners can clarify and address strategic issues, such as: effective donor-client communication, mutual notions of successful and appropriate goals, as well as technologies and monitoring approaches.

Participants identified the need for a tool that explains ‘sustainability’ and builds upon the WASH Sustainability charter: guidelines for sustainable WASH programmes. They highlighted the value of a ‘sustainability dividend’ or benchmarking system to measure WASH programmes, or an ISO standard as potential frameworks for such a tool.

At the end of the learning event, participants reflected on how they can drive changes within their respective organisations and support a service delivery approach. Several participants committed to:

  • Improving “the sustainability of WASH interventions by redesigning programmes to prioritise components of a service [delivery] approach”;
  • Endorsing the WASH Sustainability charter;
  • Supporting measures of improving their communication and sector learning by sharing resources and experiences—including writing more about sustainability, and sharing what they learned during the day’s event with their WASH partners; and
  • Maintaining the networks created during the event in order to strengthen coordination and partnerships between organisations.  

The London Sustainable WASH learning event is the fourth of its kind to create space for discussing and learning about WASH sustainability. The event was co-organised by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Aguaconsult, Water For People, WaterAid, and Global Water Challenge; and hosted by Arup. Participants represented different organisation from across the WASH sector including: bilateral donors, foundations, large and small NGOs, consultancies, academics, and umbrella organisations.

Please see the link below to download the proceedings.

Back to
the top