We believe that the failure to provide adequate and indefinite water and sanitation services is not a failure of technology or management models at the point of delivery, nor even necessarily a lack of financing. It is a systems failure. Achieving sustained improvements in services will ultimately only come about by strengthening the local and national systems that support the delivery of such services. Systems thinking is the essential foundation for addressing the scale and ambition of the SDGs and improving the health, well-being and overall life experiences of the world’s people.
At Aguaconsult, we place an explicit focus on the WASH sector as a complex system delivering WASH as a public service. We are one of the four founding members of Agenda for Change, a collaboration of like-minded organisations working in WASH that support government-led processes, with systems strengthening as a key means to achieve more sustainable outcomes. In March 2019, we co-authored the background paper for a major global symposium on systems strengthening for the WASH sector. This shift recognises the global evidence about what works, drawing on examples from a global evidence base from countries at varying stages of their development.
Our systems strengthening work spans a diverse set of services. It includes:
- Applying tools and approaches to assess the strength of systems and identify key weaknesses to be addressed.
- Supporting the design of WASH programmes that take a systems-based approach.
- Developing and operationalising strategies for systems strengthening, including district-wide planning processes, asset infrastructure management and monitoring frameworks.
- Providing systems-based analysis for the development of improved sector policy and regulatory approaches.
- Applying systems strengthening approaches in fragile and humanitarian contexts.
- Working with development partner organisations to strengthen their own internal processes and capacities to be more ‘systems-aware’, including training programmes and developing resources and toolkits for their staff to use.
To find out more about our systems strengthening work, contact our specialists Bill Twyman and Harold Lockwood.