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Sustainable WASH Systems (SWS) Learning Partnership

The Sustainable WASH Systems (SWS) learning partnership is a collaborative activity funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop, test, and document high-potential "systems approaches" for local water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) service delivery. The five year  project (2016-2021) in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda aims to provide concrete improvements to service delivery while placing a significant emphasis on building knowledge and providing evidence to USAID and the global WASH sector on how systems approaches can be applied, adapted, and scaled in different contexts.

WASH systems building

Sustainable service delivery remains a huge challenge in the WASH sector. Sustainable WASH service delivery can be achieved when service providers, authorities, and local management committees take ownership of the service and have the resources and capacity to maintain and adapt it. As a sector we have learned some key system components that must be in place, and we have also developed tools for supporting and strengthening these components. What is less clear is how to systematise and scale processes for building local systems. IRC did a lot of work on this during the Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) project from 2009-2014 and is excited to be a part of the SWS Initiative that aims to answer key questions about WASH systems building. 

Consortium partners

The SWS learning partnership is a consortium led by the University of Colorado Boulder Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities (MCEDC) in collaboration with learning partner Environmental Incentives. It is comprised of four separate streams of work (see below), each led by a different partner to provide room for different insights and WASH systems experience from different contexts. IRC is leading on Concept 1: Improving decentralised WASH service delivery by understanding and influencing local systems. In two woredas in Ethiopia (South Ari and Afar) and one district in Uganda, IRC will work with researchers from MCEDC and with consortium partner TetraTech to address both rural water and small town sanitation. Through the establishment and support of Learning Alliances. IRC will mobilise and engage stakeholders to conduct action-research initiatives, or experiments to address the needs identified in each district/woreda.

SWS Concept Teams

Concept 1: IRC, LINC, TetraTech
Improve decentralized WASH service delivery by understanding and influencing local systems

Concept 2: WaterSHED Asia, LINC
Develop a locally-led infrastructure to coordinate WASH sector (particularly donor-financed) activities in the implementation of national strategies and action plans; and

Concept 3 & 4: Whave, UNICEF/Kenya & Oxford
Test, revise, and scale up public-private partnership models that improve WASH service delivery.

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