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In this podcast you hear how the systems approach came about, what the current evidence of its importance is and what the challenges are for its adaptation in the WASH sector..

TitleSystems thinking with Angela Huston and Harold Lockwood
Publication TypeAudiovisual
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHuston, A, Lockwood, H
Secondary TitleWASH Talk
Pagination21m 38s
Date Published01/2018
Place PublishedThe Hague, the Netherlands
Publication LanguageEnglish
Keywordssystems thinking

In this episode of WASH Talk, host Andy Narracott and guest speakers Angela Huston of IRC and Harold Lockwood of Aguaconsult talk about how the systems approach came about, current evidence of its importance and possible challenges for its adaptation in the WASH sector. 

A "WASH system" includes all the moving parts that are required to provide sustainable services, from infrastructure to user. A systems approach starts with becoming comfortable with this complexity. One of Angela's blogs explains the building blocks needed for a strong WASH system.

Harold Lockwood explains that the systems approach has already been successfully implemented in other sectors, such as urban transport and health. There are also examples of early adopters in previous WASH projects and initiatives, such as the Triple-S project in Ghana, the SWA Collaborative Behaviours initiative or USAID's Sustainable WASH Systems initiative. However, a sector shift towards a systems-based approach needs further convincing by policy makers and practitioners. In order to reach Sustainable Development Goal 6, the sector as a whole has to turn towards increased collaboration. It is clear that no one actor can do this alone. 

Limitations and possible risks for applying a systems approach include the challenge in getting NGOs to let go of organisational incentives or their potential failure in realising that they also are part of the system. Thinking about and understanding the whole system should help avoid the repetition of failures and anticipate different elements that prevent or promote sustainability.



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