IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Webinar

Webinar: Using Network Analysis to Understand and Strengthen WASH Systems

On February 21, 2018, the Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) conducted a webinar that provides an introduction to network analysis and early lessons learned from analyses conducted in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Cambodia. SWS is using such analyses to better understand the complex interactions and interdependencies of actors in a local WASH system, with the ultimate goal of increasing the sustainability of WASH services.

Fact Sheet

Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership Fact Sheet

Sustainable services remain a daunting challenge in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. Traditionally, national and local governments, WASH service providers, and development partners have focused on the construction of WASH facilities and the expansion of service coverage. Less emphasis has been placed on sustaining and maintaining existing WASH services. As a result, failure rates of water supply and sanitation systems continue to be high.

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Shouted at by water users and shouting for support

Ato Mantegabtot Negash, the manager of the Gazer Town Water Utility. Together with three mechanics and two bill collectors, he is responsible for providing water services to more than 5,000 people in Gazer town, the woreda (district) capital of South Ari woreda in Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State of Ethiopia. Meeting him in his office recently, he expressed his frustration with his job.

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Are Systems Approaches About Action or Distraction?

All of us who work on understanding and implementing development from a systems perspective can rattle off a litany of arguments as to why traditional approaches don’t work: linear results chains don’t reflect reality. People and their motivations and power dynamics matter. Unanticipated feedback loops can scuttle the best-planned activities. The list goes on, filled with jargon-laden concepts like “emergence,” “causal loops,” “dynamic modeling,” and “complex adaptation.”

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Using Network Analysis for a Local Sanitation Alliance

Rather than just collecting the data and publishing a report, LINC also worked closely with the local learning alliance facilitators to figure out which findings might be most relevant and useful to the local stakeholders in setting up the platform. During the recent learning alliance kick-off, LINC had the opportunity to present these findings back to the stakeholders and support the local facilitators in using the findings to guide the discussion of how best to structure the platform.

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Learning How to Fix the System and Not Just the Pump

As Ethiopia manages to develop more and more new rural water schemes – springs, wells or boreholes with hand-pumps or engines, piped water – keeping the existing infrastructure running well and safely is a challenge that gets bigger every day. And, despite some encouraging efforts, it's a challenge that the sector has not yet started to address at scale.

[This article was prepared by John Butterworth, IRC WASH lead for the USAID SWS Learning Partnership, and Scott Short, Chief of Party, AECOM/USAID Lowland WASH Activity]