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Published on: 07/03/2013

Stakeholders in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in the Northern Region of Ghana have met to form a learning platform, the Regional Level Learning Alliance (RLLAP), in Tamale. It is to promote the sharing of ideas, knowledge and synchronise project activities and initiatives for efficient service delivery.

A sector that requires change needs to bring together people with a stake in the outcome of an activity and engage them in joint learning, planning and action.  It is against this background that the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and other sector organisations in the region, considered the idea of the regional level learning alliance platform to help improve and promote sector learning and experience sharing. Partner organisations for the inaugural edition include Triple-S Ghana Project, WASH Alliance and SNV.

Country Coordinator of WASH Alliance-Ghana, Mr Eric Chimsi, speaking on behalf of his organisation, said the Dutch WASH Alliance (which the WASH Alliance Ghana is part) is committed to promoting learning in the sector. He said the sector needs to do things differently to get different results and “To bring change in the sector requires stakeholders leveraging on each other to cross fertilise ideas and create synergies".

Mr Chimsi said the uncoordinated manner in which sector organisations undertook their individual initiatives resulted in a duplication of functions. He called on them to work together on the platform to ensure collaboration in project implementation.

Rita Ambadire, WASH Adviser for SNV, a Dutch Development organisation, on behalf of her organisation stated that the establishment of the platform in the Northern Region was long overdue. This was because the region has benefited from a number of WASH related projects with a lot of knowledge generated “But these are sitting with individuals and organisations, not being brought together, synchronised and shared among stakeholders”. This needs to change so experiences could be shared to help organisations perform better to meet the WASH needs and expectations of the people they serve.

She said knowledge sharing forms part of the critical pillars of SNV’s activities and so is committed to the establishment and sustainability of the learning alliance platform in the Northern region.

Mr. Jerry Atengdem, Triple-S Regional Learning Facilitator for Northern Region, stated that the CWSA in collaboration with Triple S project in 2011 undertook an environmental scan in the region. The scan identified the unavailability or weak systems and structures for sharing experiences and best practices within the WASH sector as a factor for poor information sharing. It also found that much of the information on the sector had not been captured nor shared, and the little available was held at individual and organisational levels making accessibility to the public difficult.

He said his organisation is committed to sustainability of facilities and hopes the platform will offer opportunity to share with stakeholders on the need for a paradigm shift that will move from the over-emphasis on the provision of infrastructure to the delivery of sustainable services.

Alhaji Ahmed Ewura, Regional Engineer for  CWSA - Northern Region, who spoke on behalf of his Regional Director, stated that partners {in the sector} over the years have worked in the fields and gathered a lot of information that might be ‘rotting’ on shelves. This information is not shared with other partners to help them improve on their activities.

 “At this point it has become necessary to come together in this region to see how we can work together as a unit to create a platform to share with each other on our experiences and activities, with the sole objective of improving the services that we deliver to our communities”.

Alhaji Ahmed said CWSA will work with its stakeholders in the region to provide improved and sustainable WASH services to people in the region. He said over the years, much emphasis has been on the delivery of facilities to the detriment of sustainable services to the people. But now, with the paradigm shift to service provision he hopes the platform will also be used to raise awareness to stakeholders on the need to think of service delivery and not facility delivery.

Alhaji Ahmed charged the meeting to constitute a core group that will organise activities of the platform to make it a success and funding mechanisms to support the activities of the platform to make it sustainable.

He said ‘If we are able to organise the platform successfully at the regional level, then we could upscale at district level for the benefit of the stakeholders there’.

Partners pledged their commitment and support to the formation and sustainability of the platform. The meeting agreed on some modalities for the platform including number of times to meet in a year, constituted the core group membership and the hosting of the platform.

 It is the expectation that the process will help bridge the gap between people on the ground, organisations at districts or community level with responsibility for service provision and support and national policy makers. Decisions and conclusions made at these levels will feed into the general policy making at the national level.

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