Collective Action in WASH: Lessons and Findings from 11 Collaborative Approaches

Photo credit: Tetra Tech

Collective action approaches are increasingly being used in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. Yet, these approaches and their effects are understudied and there is little evidence on the contextual conditions that facilitate collective action progress. This report analyzes Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) experiences in applying collective action approaches to the WASH sector and contributes to the evidence base on these approaches in real-world contexts, and provides recommendations to better support their use in programming.

From 2016 to 2021, SWS implemented collective action approaches in nine WASH contexts in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Environmental Incentives worked with teams to collect and analyze data on these approaches with research focused on: (1) defining collective action approaches, (2) investigating the factors and contexts that drive progress, and (3) identifying resource requirements.