Summing up the Fund Learning and Reflection Event

As the Fund Learning and Reflection Event (FLARE) wrapped up last week, there was an opportunity to acknowledge the work of CSOs and the collective impact as well as bring together the discussions of the week. In summarising the week, Bronwyn Powell, Fund Knowledge and Learning Manager, and Mark Ellery, WASH Facilitator, reiterated the challenge to practitioners to put the current WASH context and challenges within the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6. This means working towards not just quantity, but quality of WASH services. When working in rural WASH in particular, we questioned the extent we can rely on community-managed systems to deliver safely managed access.  

Fund-wide M&E analysis trends show that while there is diversity across the projects, the Fund can be broadly typified as a capacity building program focussed primarily on building the skills of sub-national governments for sanitation through training. The extent to which the impacts of CSO work are sustainable depends on a complex system of skills, resources, motivation, people and systems, and early signs are that impacts focused on change agents are broadly sustainable. In Knowledge and Learning, we saw that CSOs are prioritising the capture and sharing of their work and this has been important to influence change agents and share with the wider WASH sector.

CSOs also shared particular innovative highlights:

  • Making services and programming accessible to the poorest and most vulnerable such as smart subsidies with iDE and output-based aid with Thrive;
  • Engaging and leveraging the private sector to tackle safe faecal sludge management, such as Welthungerhilfe's mobile-desluding business development pilot;
  • Identifying behavioural determinants for important hygiene behaviours – such as nudges, environmental cues and testing nurturing and disgust messaging, to change hygiene behaviours in schools and communities which have been trialled by SNV and Thrive; and
  • Using accessibility tools to measure not just access but also quality of the services provided, such as the RapidWASH tool developed by WaterAid.

The fourth and final day of the CS WASH Fund Learning and Reflection Event in Brisbane this week took a focus on strengthening the enabling environment, mobilising resources, building on local strengths and limitations, and approaches to influence at scale. The day began with a plenary session on Fund-wide enabling environment data and trends from Paul Crawford (Monitoring, Evaluation and Review Panel) which highlighted that the strengths of CSOs are particularly in building the skills and knowledge of change agents, but less in successfully mobilising resources. Following the break participants spent the final afternoon reflecting on the week and spent time as teams brainstorming how what they had learnt would impact their current and future programs. Marcus Howard, Director, Sanitation and Hygiene Section, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Amanda Morgan, Fund Manager, Fund Management Facility presented their final reflections and remarks and closed the event.     

The Fund Management Facility is extremely thankful for all participants' contributions, energy and engagement across the week. As was reflected a number of times across the week, everyone is a part of something bigger than themselves, and while it is important to share knowledge and learning, reflect on where methods can be improved and identify what it is we don’t know or what we can learn from, it is also important to share and celebrate the collective efforts of everyone. As John Kelleher from Plan Australia noted in his highlight of the week, "The provision of sanitation to 3.6 million people is significant, and we are proud to be part of something that is bigger than our individual projects.' 

Highlights of the week

Outlined below are the highlights and key learnings from the week day-by-day.

On Day One the Fund Management Facility set the scene for the week contextualising the WASH challenges faced within the targets for Sustainable Development Goal 6 and reflecting on Fund-wide monitoring and evaluation and knowledge and learning trends, before we heard from Change Agents on working with Civil Society Organisations and spent the afternoon discussing Gender and WASH.    

Day Two of FLARE centered on the concept “nothing about us without us” as participants heard from representatives from Disability Peoples’ Organisations before breaking into parallel sessions to consider how best to achieve safe access for all.

The morning of Day Three focused on hygiene behaviour change, with the afternoon session exploring the outcomes and impacts of the Fund’s Innovations and Impact Grants before parallel sessions on disaster risk reduction (DRR)/climate change/water scarcity, WASH markets and WASH in schools.

Photo credit: CS WASH Fund Management Facility/Palladium