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Testing the WASH Systems Academy’s blended learning approach in Ethiopia

Published on: 01/06/2021

Participants completing the online course as part of the training

IRC WASH Ethiopia gave a nine-day Training of Trainers (ToT) to the Ethiopian Water Technology Institute (EWTI) on WASH systems strengthening.

The training was conducted from April 26 to May 8, 2021 in Bishoftu town, 50km outside Addis Ababa. The training was sponsored by the USAID Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS). The objective of the training is for EWTI to offer ongoing training in WASH systems strengthening in Ethiopia using a mix of channels including self-paced and guided online courses, live online training sessions, mixed with workshops.

EWTI is a centre of excellence in capacity building and technology transfer in Ethiopia’s water sector. The institute strives to realise nationwide rapid development in the water sector through capacity building, research, and study of technology transfer to improve the sector’s overall implementation capacity.

Participants of the training were staff from different departments of the institute, including water supply, electro-mechanical, groundwater exploration, drilling, laboratory, irrigation, and communication. In addition, there were two trainees from technical and vocational colleges. Of the 25 participants, all are trainers except the two departments heads in attendance.

The training was provided using four courses of the WASH Systems Academy: WASH systems strengthening: the basics, Building blocks of sustainable WASH systems, Finance for sustainable WASH systems, and Driving change for strong WASH systems. The training used a blended approach where trainees follow an online course in the WASH Systems Academy followed by a summary presentation, facilitated discussions, and group work.

Participants in a circle during group discussion
Participants completing group work during the training

The purpose of the ToT approach was to enable EWTI trainers to understand the WASH systems strengthening approach and cascade this to WASH actors in Ethiopia by including it in its training packages.

During the closing session of the training, EWTI director Dr. Tamene Hailu discussed the content of the training, the methodology of the training provision, and the applicability of the training to the Ethiopian water sector with the participants. Feedback on the courses was positive, but some suggestions for further contextualising the courses were made. Zewdu Assefa, the training coordinator from EWTI, said, “The materials are well-structured, easy to understand, provided us with different perspectives, and helped us to understand WASH in its broader sense.” He suggested contextualisation of the content by adding more case studies from the Ethiopian WASH sector and developing an offline version as internet connectivity is a challenge. Genet Megersa said, “Without the facilitator, we might be able to complete the modules but will not have a good understanding of many of the technical terms and the overall concept and applicability to our context.” In his concluding remark, the director said EWTI will offer WASH systems strengthening: the basics as a compulsory course in all its training packages soon. 

Group discussion during the trainingEWTI director leading the discussion with the trainees

As part of the ToT training package, IRC WASH has procured and donated four mobile Wi-Fi modems to EWTI to strengthen the existing internet connectivity. Each modem can support up to 10 connections at a time. Additionally, in the short term, EWTI and IRC agreed to work together to contextualise the course content by including more case studies from the Ethiopian WASH sector and deliver the training to regions. In the long run, translation into the major local languages and development of an offline version of the WASH Systems Academy was proposed. Dr. John Butterworth, Director of IRC’s Global Hub, and Jeske Verhoeven, Programme officer at IRC, joined the closing ceremony virtually and expressed IRC’s commitment to support EWTI in cascading the training.

See the WASH Systems Academy landing page