The challenges faced in sanitation and hygiene programmes are numerous and complex. Failures are inevitable. From our experience of working on rapid action learning and research in this sector we have found that when mistakes are shared they are usually those which were uncontrollable and unanticipated i.e. somebody else’s fault.
In this perspectives piece, Jamie Myers and Naomi Vernon from the Sanitation Learning Hub propose a typology of failure alongside criteria for research and learning processes that prioritises timeliness, relevance and actionability. They argue that these can be used together to identify and reflect on failures (and successes) quickly. They provide some practical suggestion for different stakeholders to support a shift towards a more open and reflexive sector, where all types of failures can be shared broadly.
Over the past few years, the Sanitation Learning Hub, in collaboration with the Government of India, Praxis, WSSCC and WaterAid India, have been developing Rapid Action Learning approaches. Multiple approaches have been trialled, with flexible formats, but the essential criteria is that learning is timely, relevant and actionable.
These learning approaches are the focus of the latest edition of the Frontiers of Sanitation series. This Frontiers explains the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches trialled and sets out a challenge to those working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to:
- Reflect on what, for you, constitutes rigour.
- Adopt and adapt approaches to fit your context and needs.
- Develop your own approaches.
- Record your experiences and lessons learnt.
- Take the time to share your experiences with us. (Email the Hub on SLH@ids.ac.uk)
To commemorate and reflect on the publication, the Hub sat down with colleagues and partners WaterAid India and WSSCC to discuss lessons learned and the future of Rapid Action Learning. You can watch these five short videos in the playlist below.
How do you think we learn best? What barriers do you see and experience that make it more difficult for us to learn? And what steps should we be taking to reduce the barriers and improve how we learn more effectively?
This Sanitation Learning Hub Learning Paper summarises the key learning from a rapid topic exploration on ‘Learning in the Sanitation and Hygiene Sector’.
The study looked at how people in the WASH sector learn, the processes utilised and what works best, as well as the barriers and challenges to learning. It looks at learning from communities and peer-to-peer and how the learning gets translated into action at scale.
This paper shares the lessons from sector and associated actors working in low- and middle-income contexts around the world and makes recommendation on how to strengthen learning and sharing processes, as well as building capacities and confidence for learning, with the ultimate aim of turning that learning into action at scale. A shorter learning brief accompanies this paper.
With PhotoVoice research participants can express themselves in a visual medium instead of using words, which is beneficial for those who can’t communicate their WASH needs as easily or find it difficult to speak about taboo issues.
This Sanitation Learning Hub Learning Paper explores the potential of an innovative participatory visual method known as PhotoVoice to help to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030. The paper outlines what PhotoVoice is, and shares learning relating to its use in the WASH sector around the world for research, programming and advocacy.
It draws on lessons learned from these experiences to show how PhotoVoice can be used for learning in WASH, how it can be used with other methodologies to explore topics which are neglected or taboo, and the benefits and drawbacks of PhotoVoice to consider. It includes practical recommendations for using PhotoVoice in WASH and the ethical considerations to make when it is used. The paper reflects on how PhotoVoice is important for exploring new frontiers in WASH, and can help us gain a deeper understanding into how people experience, interpret and respond to their realities.
Opening the Doors to the Hidden WASH Needs of Women from the Onset of the Perimenopause in Urban Ghana
Recent debates on ensuring equity and inclusion in sanitation and hygiene provision in the Global South have begun to explore the needs of excluded groups of individuals. Yet, the sanitation and hygiene needs of perimenopausal (PM) women, who are making the transition to menopause, are neglected.
This study explores this new field of research and aims to provide recommendations to meet the sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women. Opening the doors to these needs warrants the use of adaptive, participative, feminist methodologies, placing PM women at the centre of the study to enable them to share their experiences. This research uses a six-stage case study methodology: a literature review, a phenomenological review, research design, case study selection, data collection, and data analysis.
This research identified several sanitation and hygiene needs as crucial to PM women’s health. This research concludes that the hidden sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women require participatory techniques to reveal them. Relationships with certain people allow PM women to discuss and meet the sanitation and hygiene needs to a degree. PM symptoms vary in nature, between women and day to day. This research demonstrates that the sanitation and hygiene sector needs to become more attentive to bathing and laundry issues overall, learning from the needs of PM women.
Support Mechanisms to Strengthen Equality and Non-Discrimination (EQND) in Rural Sanitation (Part 2 of 2)
Looking at 50 programmes that used support mechanisms, this rapid review emphasises the importance of monitoring, evaluating and knowledge-sharing processes in building an evidence base for facilitating equitable rural sanitation outcomes.
The benefits of conventional rural sanitation programming and service delivery are often not spread equally, and risk leaving disadvantaged groups behind. Greater attention needs to be paid to these groups to achieve adequate and equitable access to sanitation for all, and an end to open defecation.
This issue of the Sanitation Learning Hub's Frontiers of Sanitation (the second in a two-part series) examines support mechanisms designed to help disadvantaged groups access and use hygienic toilets as part of efforts to drive more equitable rural sanitation outcomes. It covers the latest thinking on the opportunities and challenges of support mechanisms, and explores what works remains to be done.
The issue uses a broad definition of ‘support’ for creating equitable outcomes. Although financial and physical subsidies often come to mind, a broader practical understanding of support needs to encompass both ‘hardware’ mechanisms and ‘software’ approaches, as well as various combinations of the two.
This resource includes six examples of where slippage has occurred and what has been done to reverse it. It aims to lay the groundwork for more systematic learning among practitioners.
There is widespread recognition that slippage of open defecation free (ODF) status is a challenge to sustainability across many programmes and contexts. Much has been written about how Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and other sanitation programmes can be set up for sustainability in order to prevent slippage from happening but there is little documented evidence on how slippage can be reversed.
This edition of the Sanitation Learning Hub Frontiers of Sanitation examines what can be done if slippage has already happened. This resource has two parts – the first looks at how slippage is defined, presents a framework for identifying slippage patterns, and revisits the factors known to contribute to slippage. The second section provides six case examples of field experience of slippage and the actions taken to reverse it. It is hoped that this review lays the groundwork for more systematic learning and sharing on slippage to inform current and future programming and practice.
This practitioner research, carried out by women’s empowerment organisation FAMM Indonesia, brings the voices of young women – a group consistently excluded from decision-making spaces about the allocation of local government resources – into the conversation about social accountability. Barriers to young (especially unmarried) women’s participation in public spaces include the prevailing view that doing so violates social norms, young women’s often low level of education, and family expectations. Many young women have internalised their marginalisation and lack the confidence to participate in community forums.
This paper describes participatory action research carried out in partnership with eight grassroots Indonesian women’s NGOs. Preliminary focus group discussions laid the foundation for a series of movement-building initiative workshops to strengthen rural young women’s leadership capacity, encourage critical awareness and develop their roles as community organisers. Young women’s social engagement can generate criticism and backlash, which may lead to their losing interest in public forums. As well as empowering participation in formal meetings, the research suggests that young women can overcome closed spaces through building on informal relationships and collaborations. And young women’s involvement in producing creative content (print, audio and multimedia) for use in community organising is used to strengthen their self-esteem and abilities.
The paper ends with a reflective conversation between Niken Lestari of FAMM and Francesca Feruglio of MAVC. They discuss the kind of capacity-building needed to enable young women to overcome barriers to their engagement in local governance spaces, and thus fulfil their own declared potential to contribute much more to the development of their communities.
As a sector, we want to be better at reaching the unreached and not only ensure that the rights of people who may be disadvantaged are met, but also make better use of their skills, knowledge and contributions as part of sanitation programmes globally.
A well-facilitated Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme that proactively considers and involves disadvantaged people has been shown to have many benefits. Absence of such programmes can often have negative impacts and make it difficult to sustain open defecation free status.
This issue of the Sanitation Learning Hub's Frontiers of Sanitation looks at who should be considered potentially disadvantaged, how they can effectively participate, and how to address diverse needs in order to make processes and outcomes sustainable and inclusive. Using a range of examples from Global Sanitation Fund programmes that were part of a recent study on equality and non-discrimination, it explores the challenges that may occur and concludes with suggested good practices that can strengthen processes to the benefit of all.
Can participation 'fix' inequality? unpacking the relationship between the economic and political citizenship
This paper, based on a lecture given at the University of Sussex, UK, takes on the issue of growing inequality. Arguing that we know more about how economic inequality affects political participation than we do about how participation and voice affect economic inequality, the author describes ongoing work to identify participatory practices that offer some precedents for linking strategies for narrowing political and economic gaps from below. These combinations in turn contribute to challenging these intersecting inequalities and hold promise for transformative solutions across the global North and South.
This note summarises the potentials and limitations of using a CLTS approach in peri-urban and urban environments. It identifies the actions needed to take the approach to scale. It is one output from a workshop convened by the CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies, and Plan International Ethiopia in Addis Abba between June 13th-15th 2016. A more detailed report can be found on the CLTS Knowledge Hub website.
Time to Listen: A Discussion Guide was developed to stimulate discussion and reflection among practitioners working in international, national and local aid organizations, governments and donors. For those already familiar with Time to Listen, this guide serves as a useful review and as a means to introduce colleagues and partners to the voices and ideas presented in the book on how to improve the effectiveness of international aid efforts. For readers with no prior exposure to the Listening Project or Time to Listen, the Discussion Guide aims to spark an interest in and a desire to further explore the findings of the Listening Project and the implications for their work.
The format of the guide closely follows the structure of Time to Listen, briefly summarizing each chapter and presenting the reader with a series of thought-provoking discussion questions. These questions are intentionally open-ended, allowing users to tailor the discussion to fit their organizational needs. For practitioners, the questions can be used to encourage reflection on their personal approaches and practices. Supervisors can use the questions to encourage reflection and inspire changes among their team members. The questions can also be used in a class setting, allowing educators and students to discuss the implications for future policies and practices.
Meaningful accountability can shift power imbalances that prevent sustainable development for people living in poverty and marginalisation. Accountability consists of both the rights of citizens to make claims and demand a response, and the involvement of citizens in ensuring that related action is taken.
However, for the poorest and most marginalised people accountability is often unattainable. This briefing draws on research by the Participate initiative to highlight the key components necessary for processes of accountability to be meaningful for all.
Using Participatory Process Evaluation to Understand the Dynamics of Change in a Nutrition Education Programme
With roots in approaches to popular education and participatory action research that place the learner and the ‘beneficiary’ of development at the centre of enquiry and action, the participatory visualisation methods associated with Participatory Rural Appraisal have been widely used as tools for learning and accountability. In this article, the author reflects on lessons learnt from using these methods in a participatory process evaluation of an educational programme aimed at addressing chronic malnutrition in an East African country. Building on this experience, she explores the educative and empowering dimensions of participatory visualisation methods, and considers the contribution that these methods can make to effective evaluation.