System approaches to ensure lasting water and sanitation services for generations were the highlight of this year’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sustainability symposium, part of the WASH Sustainability forums taking place in Kampala, Uganda this year, from June 20 to 23.
The objective of the symposium was to provide a platform for stakeholders in WASH to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of WASH interventions to ensure sustainable access and use of the services as well as to examine how to engage various stakeholders in the system chain to ensure that services last over time.
It also aims to look beyond the conventional notion of “projects” to discuss how WASH stakeholders can and should work together within the wider complex systems that deliver services.
Opening remarks highlighted the importance of having learning and exchange platforms over the years across the sectors to improve the impact of WASH services across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Urban sanitation was noted as a critical thing that the sector must look at keenly now and a special focus on inequalities was also highlighted in addition to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) as a contributor to the wellbeing of the girl child and women in general.
The symposium was divided into two tracks, water and sanitation, where detailed discussions ensued.
The sanitation discussions were led by the International Resource Centre for WASH supported by AGUAConsult over the four days of the forum, considering the whole systems approach, looking back and focusing ahead in relation to the SDGs. There were various expositions on how whole systems approach work effectively by different stakeholders – governments, private sector, academia and Civil Society Organizations.
Some of the highlights were; adopting a whole system approach for sanitation, calling for considering sanitation as an entire chain of activities involving people, money, technology and institutions. This also defines the envisioned result of the work and ensuring every steps of the sanitation chain are well managed and globally supported.
Elizabeth Wamera, WSSCC’s Civil Society and National Engagement Officer who was attending the event explained that what was interesting to note this year was the fact that the WASH sector is beginning to think about the whole systems approach, as a way of ensuring sustainability, which is very complex.
“But it guarantees sustainability of what we do, it is urging us to get out of our comfort zones and do more to reach each and every individual in an effective way with lasting guaranteed results,” she said.
This year’s forum was organized by the WASH Sustainability organisation, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SUSANA), The International Resource Centre for WASH (IRC) -Netherlands and the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment, with an attendance of 210 people from 30 countries.
This was the first Sustainability Forum among the series to be held in Africa.The WASH sustainability forums attract a diverse number of professionals in WASH from various sectors worldwide to discuss aspects of ensuring WASH services are effective and lasting. The last forum was held in the Netherlands in 2014.
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