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Action research is either research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. [Source: Wikipedia - Action research]

 

Building blocks can be used as a tool to analyse a WASH system in a country or a district. A quick and easy tool has been developed to assess the status of each building block at national or district level. 

How does it work?

This Excel tool can be used to assess the status of the building blocks to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene services or WASH services away from home (i.e. at schools or health care facilities). You can also use the tool to assess the functioning of the building blocks for a specific Service Delivery Model.

Systems strengthening means making sure that all the main building blocks of a strong WASH system are in place and functioning to a minimum level. Putting these building blocks in place isn't a one-off activity. It's a never-ending process of strengthening and adaptation. By assessing the status of each building block and the linkages between them, WASH practitioners can identify weak points and target their interventions for greater effect.

Building block scoring makes it easier to provide quick overviews and comparisons of relative change within a country and a district when repeated over time.

The tool

Each building block is assessed by scoring statements with a score of 1–5, where 1 stands for non-existent/ very weak and 5 means fully compliant/ very strong (or N/A if the statement is not applicable). Next to a score per statement (1–5 or N/A), you are asked to provide a short explanation for the score and include sources or references which can support the reasoning behind the score. The building blocks for the hygiene and WASH away from home sectors are scored with a single statement and therefore no average score is produced per building block.

Ideally, the scoring of the building blocks is done in a participatory manner together with key sector stakeholders. Based on the analysis, stakeholders together then participate in the creation of a roadmap to start to strengthen one or multiple blocks.

Image. Screenshot of Excel tool to analyse the building blocks

A snapshot

Together the statements produce an average score for each building block that is visualised with a traffic light score (from red to dark green). This provides a snapshot of the building blocks that are weak (or strong) in your context. The snapshot shows the entry points to start strengthening the system, and will help to start a discussion with other stakeholders on the status of the system, and how to coordinate, align and target interventions for greater effect.

Context dependent

Statements change depending on the context. There are different statements per:

  • level: statements change depending on whether the building block is being scored at national or district level
  • sector: statements are different for water, sanitation and hygiene, and scoring WASH away from home.

Multi-functional tool

The tool can also be used in a workshop setting, where scoring is done by a group of stakeholders to asses the system (i.e. the nine building blocks) for a specific context. Note that the scoring and assessment do not compare the relative strength of the building blocks of the WASH systems between districts or countries. This is mainly because the assessments are of a subjective nature, without clear definitions of assigned scores (between 1 and 5). This is left to the judgement of the people who have carried out the assessments.

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