Collaboration with relevant WASH stakeholders fosters enabling environment

United Purpose | Liv Sawyer from United Purpose, on 07/11/2017 00:34 AEST

Poor collaboration between various stakeholders (government, NGOs and civil society organisations) in Malawi’s WASH sector results too often in duplication of interventions, lost opportunities to adopt innovations and learnings, and wasted resources.

Central to United Purpose's (UP) approach is developing partnerships, including working with and through decentralised government structures to ensure sustainability of our impact. UP's WASH project in Phalombe has facilitated collaboration with other WASH stakeholders working in the district, including Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the District Council and the government extension workers.

This collaboration includes joint monitoring visits, joint planning with all stakeholders at district and area levels and the engagement of and support to extension workers. To ensure the government is able to support the target population and ensure the long-term benefits of the project after it has closed, the project has built the capacity of the local government, including the District Coordinating Team (DCT), Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) and local and community structures through training on various WASH approaches (such as CLTS, water quality testing) and beyond (such as tree management).

This approach to involving key stakeholders at all stages of the project lifecycle is recognised as best practice by the local government: “United Purpose has done a tremendous job on improving people’s lives through the WASH project they have in the district because they engage relevant stakeholders like us at the District Council”, said Mr Morson Magombo, the Director of Planning and Development at Phalombe District Council.

Furthermore, other development partners are now recognising the effective way in which UP works with the District. Two international NGOs with WASH programmes in Phalombe approached UP to learn more about how to better engage stakeholders. “We have learnt a lot from United Purpose; for example, conducting joint planning and monitoring visits together with relevant stakeholders has improved our WASH service delivery in the district”, narrated the project manager for one of the international NGOs WASH programmes in Phalombe.

“At first we did not use extension workers like Health Surveillance Assistants on the ground, which created a lot of problems as we did not understand the WASH needs and issues on the ground. But after learning and adopting the approach United Purpose of working with the extension workers, we are now able to understand the WASH issues and needs on the ground through the extension workers and chiefs,” narrated the project officer of another international NGO.