By Hanifah Kasule, Programme Officer WASH SDG sub-programme in Uganda
Back in 2017, when the WASH SDG programme was starting in Uganda, the two in-country sub-programmes committed to collaborating on learning and experience sharing: the Uganda WASH Alliance (UWA) and Plan International Uganda (PIU). In this article Hanifah Kasule, Programme & Communications Officer for Simavi in Uganda shares how these two sub-programmes take the opportunity to conduct joint learning and knowledge exchange.
Although the two sub-programmes are implemented in different regions in Uganda with a slightly different focus, several circumstances seemed to overlap at programme inception. For instance, in both areas, there was no WASH market and participation of women, girls and socially excluded groups was limited. In addition, there was inadequate enforcement and/or understanding of the WASH sector policies and guidelines at the local level. Against this background, the two sub-programmes agreed to deliberately create peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange opportunities.
More emphasis on collaboration after the first phase
During the first phase of implementation (2018 -2020), there was limited collaboration between the two sub-programmes. This was highlighted in the findings of the mid-term review and a recommendation was made to put more emphasis on collaboration moving forward. Following this, the two sub-programmes took steps to collaborate on activities with the aim of joint learning and experience sharing. So far, the sub-programmes have jointly held a writeshop, a bi-annual review workshop, and a national-level dissemination of sustainability check findings.
From the 26th to the 28th of April 2022, participants from the two sub-programmes held a writeshop in Agago district where they shared stories from their respective areas of implementation. Participants from Plan International Uganda and from the Uganda WASH Alliance developed and shared stories. Uganda WASH Alliance participants shared experiences on, among others:
- how they have revamped a previously abandoned public toilet using a public private partnerships (PPP) approach;
- how Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) improve sustainability;
- improving success rates of open defecation free (ODF) status attainment through learning caravans;
- women involvement in WASH entrepreneurship;
- and WASH data management. Stories from Plan International Uganda profiled women involvement in WASH entrepreneurship and improving Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in schools through provision of water. All the stories developed were jointly peer-reviewed and critiqued, hence fostering learning, experience, and knowledge sharing. Following this successful joint writeshop, both sub-programmes jointly organised a national-level dissemination of sustainability check findings.
During the inception phase, a sustainability compact analysis was undertaken. The analysis looked at the factors influencing compliance with the sustainability clause of the contract between DGIS and the WASH SDG consortium. At midline, a sustainability check was conducted, and a report of the findings was compiled. Plan International Uganda and the Uganda WASH Alliance are members of the national sanitation working group. During one of their meetings, they shared about the sustainability check leading to them being asked to organise a national-level dissemination for the benefit of a broader WASH stakeholder audience. Against this background, the sub-programmes organised a national-level half-day workshop at which they shared the detailed findings of the sustainability check.
Flyer for National level dissemination of sustainability check report findings.
About the workshop
During the workshop, SNV (a WASH SDG consortium partner based in the Netherlands) and USHA (a USAID-funded project) also shared their experiences on sustainability of their closed projects. USHA shared on how they had integrated the FIETS approach, that stands for Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technical and Social sustainability and it is a strategy for the sustainability of development programmes interventions. On their part, SNV shared about a 2014 – 2018 project for which a post project survey was conducted between November 2019 and March 2020 to assess sustenance of access to basic sanitation. Their sharing at the workshop was intended to trigger a conversation on sustenance of sanitation achievements after project completion.
Cognisant of the fact that the official programme endline is close (2023), the sub-programmes held a joint three-day bi-annual review workshop to reflect on progress made in the past four years, pick lessons from the MTR to inform the endline and external evaluation processes, discuss plans for the budget neutral extension , and to jointly brainstorm on what a potential second phase of the programme might look like.
Samuel Kiiza (Plan International Uganda) during the bi-annual review workshop.
Collaboration initiatives continue
The two sub-programmes will keep collaborating. Uganda WASH Alliance and Plan International Uganda will jointly conduct a sanitation marketing learning journey to help partners appreciate basic concepts of sanitation marketing, apply these concepts to Community-Led Total Sanitation (efforts, learn from existing sanmark initiatives, and get insights into the application of sanmark value chain platforms. This learning journey is scheduled to take place before end of October 2022. Other upcoming joint activities include a learning caravan to foster sub-programme cross learning and a joint endline programme evaluation.
For a programme that is as complex as the WASH SDG programme, it would be a missed opportunity if the constituent sub-programmes did not deliberately conduct joint learning and knowledge exchange. Whereas the two sub-programmes in Uganda did not put emphasis on these aspects before the midline, the feedback from the midline prompted them to take active steps towards ensuring that there is continuous cross learning, knowledge exchange, and experience sharing during the remaining part of the WASH SDG programme implementation in the country.