From the 29th of September until the 4th of October 2013 the Country Coordinator Week (CC Week) took place. During this annual event all those working for the WASH Alliance in the Netherlands and abroad united for a week of reflection, learning, and planning for the future. Country Coordinators from Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Nepal had come over to be part of this week.
The week started on Sunday with a fun activity. Akvo FLOW, a tool developed by alliance member Akvo to monitor and evaluate development projects, was put to the test in the inner city of Leiden. This was an opportunity to get acquainted with FLOW, for those who had never had an opportunity to work with it. The rest of the week mainly took place in ‘Nieuwe Energie’ (New Energy), a former textile factory in the heart of Leiden, which proved to be the perfect place for a CC Week. The week was full of presentations, workshops, group discussions, role plays and other opportunities to share experiences and ideas.
Monday was mainly spent on reflecting on preliminary findings of the Mid-Term Evaluation, which had been conducted last summer. Preliminary findings of this evaluation were promising, and confirmed to many that the WASH Alliance is on track in creating changes for the better. It also presented some food for discussion as challenges came to the fore too.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the main focus was on creating a collective understanding on how the WASH Alliance can achieve more scale through a systems approach. The challenge is to take the FIETS approach one step further, and focus on reaching systems change through up scaling (FIETS3: The 3 stands for acceleration and expansion – to the third, but also for 3Ss (Social, Scale, Systems)). In order to make the somewhat abstract principle of FIETS3 more concrete, the diamond approach was introduced. This model connects major actors in society (people and communities, private sector, government and financial institutions), which are to cooperate in order to create market circumstances in which WASH services are provided on a large scale. Discussions arose about how to use the insights in specific countries. Through role plays, strategies for involving new stakeholders into WASH activities came to life. A scenario planning exercise was also done to get clearer ideas of possible future scenarios with either high or low donor funding, and either high or low private sector involvement in the WASH sector. On Wednesday at noon, it was time to recharge and relax when taking lunch at a boat, while touring through the canals of Leiden.
On Thursday, time was spent on reflecting on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Parts of reports were reflected upon, and ideas for improving reports were shared. The new planning and reporting cycle for 2014 was presented and discussed. During the day, country teams held meetings to discuss specific country issues. At the end of the day it was time for relaxation. At the ‘Hof der Muzen’, a small restaurant/bar in The Hague, delicious food and a great atmosphere awaited. Time to have a drink and dance!
Friday was the closing day. Pilots of putting the Sustainability Monitoring Framework into practice were presented, and it was time to reflect some more upon the learning trajectory. Questions and answers were dealt with, and the whole week was reflected upon. Somewhat tired yet satisfied, we all went our separate ways, yet with a strong sense of a common goal, and full of new ideas for continuing and improving our work for bettering the living conditions of many.
Thank you all for your contributions and great energy!
Ineke Bergsma, Dutch WASH Alliance Intern