Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

Hi Dean
Website improvements will be carried out following the UX (user experience study) which will be repeated following these changes to determine the positive impacts. Those two activities are relatively small investments totaling about 5% of the budget. The content work is much more time consuming and this is where the real improvements will be made. Moving residues of knowledge from the Forum to Wikipedia is a good model as you described. But I think the real strength of SuSanA will be to make better use of the 13 Working Groups and their Thematic Areas. Here we pull together active members together to update state of the art fact sheets, collaborate on publications and combine forces to further develop the KM agenda for specific topics. Thematic discussions with webinars and Forum exchanges linked to the WGs with active moderation will help stimulate this further.

Central to this will be studying the stakeholder market to find out what their KM and networking needs are, creating then a communications strategy and implementation plan to engage a larger percentage of the continuously membership which will mean content geared around this plan.

The third activity will be an assessment of organisational and funding alternatives to ensure that SuSanA retains a sustainable future.

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Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

Arno, could you please tell us what percentage of the $2.7 million is to be set aside for web platform development?

Ease of access is important, I have no issues with that, it is low cost.

Yes, having the skills to pull out the gems from discussions and present them succinctly and topically would mean resourcing better than mediocre curator(s). Suggesting that this is unlikely might be seen as a "glass half full" attitude. I fully agree that the forum serves as a communications platform with minds getting together to solve issues. I often see cutting edge solutions coming from this forum, but yet these solutions are not then extracted to become a cited reference in an article on the subject. These gems produced through collaboration get lost to the forum because staff are not resourced to do so. I'm not suggesting using the dysfunctional susana-akvo wiki, but resourcing WikiProject Sanitation to keep Wikipedia updated, as resources get added to the library and forum discussions are concluded.

Using "Urine as a fertiliser" example again, the relevant wikipedia page would currently be "Reuse of excreta". Because that page doesn't even state what NPK content is in urine, we get uninformed discussion in the forum like here resulting in misleading statements like "more than 60% of excreta phosphorous is supposed to be in the urine." and "Urine is a complete fertiliser and rich in P". Because wikipedia is not yet a complete reference, we can turn to the Susana library and search for what we want, but really the issue is that sanitation articles in wikipedia do not yet reflect the knowledge available in the library and forum. Gems like "urine is very high in nitrogen (can be over 10% in a high protein diet), low in phosphorus (1%), and moderate in potassium (2-3%)" and "nitrogen content in urine is related to quantity of protein in the diet".

WikiProject Sanitation hasn't been resourced sufficiently to date. Wikipedia is an ever-evolving resource of referenced information and content should reflect our full and current knowledge on sanitation. A curator would extract that knowledge from the forum and library and make it available in Wikipedia.

cheers
Dean
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

goeco wrote: A global knowledge platform doesn't require constantly updating to the latest software with more and more bells and whistles. What is required are the human resources to cajole participants into action. Complacency is the biggest issue, this is not addressed by software. The current forum is working for those who actively participate, and the latest model won't improve participation. What I have experienced is that 99% of my technical questions go unanswered. They are either not getting to the right people, or those people can't be bothered answering. Unless the participation bar is raised beyond those regulars who sometimes end up sounding like a cracked record, then progress will not be made.

I've said this before, a forum just gives the opportunity for people to put their views forward. The next (and most important) step is to condense those views into knowledge within a relational database such as a wiki. The Susana wiki is an abject failure and it is obvious why. Elisabeth works tirelessly on this forum and on wikipedia, to improve knowledge and make information resources available to all. That kind of approach is what needs to be resourced, not expensive web developers that instill security fears in the client (hey this is just a forum!) while offering the latest and greatest that will need updating next year. The focus needs to be on the users, not the software service providers.

Dean


Ease of access, especially also through easy use of mobile clients does increase the chance of the right person seeing your question though. Of course it will not magically solve all the issues your are mentioning, but its part of the way. Relatively speaking these software improvements are also not that expensive.

Concerning the need for curation and condensing information... well yes, but for that you basically need paid staff and the results usually end up rather medicore. In theory such a wiki sounds great and the Wikipedia is useful to some extend in its limited fashion, but I think the strength of SuSanA is rather that of a communication platform. Instead of offering limited condensed information it is rather about discussions and utilizing the 'hive mind', i.e. ask a question and together you might come up with a good solution. But I agree we are not fully there yet...
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

I came to sanitation as a second career, and was looking for a way of getting to know the field without having to earn another degree. Not possible on SuSanA (yet). I've come to appreciate the importance of scientific accuracy, but I long for SuSanA to come to appreciate the importance of communicating information in a more succinct way. More readable and accessible.

I say this to echo what several others have called for--good, reliable information that takes less time to (a) find and (b) read.
Diane M. Kellogg
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Private Sector Specialist, BMGF grant to SuSanA
Marketing Consultant, PRISTO (RVO-funded grant)
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

To use Marijn's comments to emphasise my point:

A web library is a collection of information resources, but to the surfer who has limited time to become informed, such resources are only useful as cited references. If I want to know about "urine as a fertiliser", I don't want to read The 5th International Dry Toilet Conference 2015, or Terra Preta Sanitation Volume 1. Then, there are gems of knowledge available in the forum on "urine as a fertiliser", but sifting these from the floc is tedious. On the other hand, a good wiki has had the sifting already done, and offers the information along with cross references to related information, while also citing the library articles and forum posts that support the information provided. The reader can delve deeper with one click, and choose the browse route, or alternatively perform a search.
According to wikipedia, a curator is a content specialist. Its one thing archiving content, but one needs a good understanding of the content to curate it and mould it into a form accessible to users. Skilled human curators require resourcing.

cheers
Dean
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

Dean's post is interesting. I'm expecting Elisabeth's comments on the post.
Marijn's point is also valid. Library is almost in the background - not visible.
I think, the resources available in the library should be made more visible.

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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

Great to hear the is continued support for the platform!

Personally, I would not change too much about the forum. But then again, I don't own a smartphone or tablet, so web 1.0 is fine for me :P .

My personal favorite for improvement would be the library, or at least its interface. I sort of accidentally discovered the "filter" function, which is very powerful. How many people know about, and how to use it? For me, the forum probably is Susana's main claim to fame fore now, and I really like it. Can we make our library just as good? Parts are there, but is not an easy and intuitively navigable collection. How can we make the library more visible, more accessible and a more "curated" collection? Some sort of a graphical interface menu that lets you find your way from key-word to key word until you find the document you are after?

Regards

Marijn
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

A global knowledge platform doesn't require constantly updating to the latest software with more and more bells and whistles. What is required are the human resources to cajole participants into action. Complacency is the biggest issue, this is not addressed by software. The current forum is working for those who actively participate, and the latest model won't improve participation. What I have experienced is that 99% of my technical questions go unanswered. They are either not getting to the right people, or those people can't be bothered answering. Unless the participation bar is raised beyond those regulars who sometimes end up sounding like a cracked record, then progress will not be made.

I've said this before, a forum just gives the opportunity for people to put their views forward. The next (and most important) step is to condense those views into knowledge within a relational database such as a wiki. The Susana wiki is an abject failure and it is obvious why. Elisabeth works tirelessly on this forum and on wikipedia, to improve knowledge and make information resources available to all. That kind of approach is what needs to be resourced, not expensive web developers that instill security fears in the client (hey this is just a forum!) while offering the latest and greatest that will need updating next year. The focus needs to be on the users, not the software service providers.

Dean
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Re: Phase 3: Supporting sustainable sanitation through knowledge management and collaborative action within SuSanA

Thank you. We are very happy about this grant! :-)

Actually this grant is very "internet and virtual world" focused. Most of the work will be achieved by improving the SuSanA platform and tools, such as Forum, Website, Wikipedia, working group leads support, knowledge management, project database, support of practitioners at country level using Oxfam and Wateraid staff as a starting point, webinars etc. There is also money to do studies on SuSanA itself, i.e. user experience study, communications and marketing study, organizational study. All this will be coordinated via e-mail.

With regards to workshops this is pretty much beyond the scope of this grant, sorry (apart form some things that WaterAid and Oxfam might organise in certain focus countries; this list of focus countries is currently being finalised - I will share it once I have it but I think Pakistan is not on it).

But keep an eye on all the events announced here: forum.susana.org/component/kunena/21-eve...education-programmes

Some conferences offer sponsorships for people from low-income countries.

Any chance you could get yourself to Chennai in India in February?
This should be an excellent conference, the FSM4 conference & SuSanA meeting in India:
forum.susana.org/component/kunena/156-co...egistration-now-open

Regards,
Elisabeth
(working on this grant with Arno and a group of people from the grant consortium)
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Re: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance receives grant of $2.7 million to further develop its global knowledge platform

Reminder/repeat of the official project announcement:

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance: Grant of $2.7 million to supercharge sustainable sanitation knowledge platform

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) through the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has received a US $2.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the continued growth and development of SuSanA’s online knowledge-management and collaboration services.

“With this generous grant we will be able to enrich SuSanA’s services with the needs not only of our current active users but also potentially huge new user groups in the Global South and in the private sector as well – stakeholders who can play a pivotal role in scaling up sustainable sanitation access,” says Arno Rosemarin (SEI), project leader of this grant.

The project will be led by Stockholm Environment Institute and implemented by a consortium that includes Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), WaterAid and Oxfam, as well as specialized additional consultants.

Founded in 2007, SuSanA is an open international alliance, with a network of over 7300 individual members and 282 partners. Since its beginning, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is supporting the SuSanA Secretariat that is hosted by GIZ. SuSanA’s mission is to promote innovation and best practices in sanitation policy, programming, implementation and scaling up, by linking on-the-ground experience with an engaged community of practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and academics. In particular, SuSanA promotes a systems approach to sanitation that takes into account all related aspects of sustainability across the sanitation value chain.

SuSanA has been supported by the Gates Foundation with two smaller grants since 2012. This new three-year grant will cover a third phase of development, highlighting the foundation’s continuing prioritization of knowledge management in the WASH sector

The project will have three key outcomes: 1) Improved use of SuSanA Platform by identified target groups, through a clear communications plan and platform improvements; 2) Demonstrable improvements in the impact that use of the SuSanA Platform has on members’ work in sanitation; 3) Strengthened governance and institutional sustainability of SuSanA as reflected in an operational plan that includes a plan for funding the budget needed to assure the future of SuSanA.

Central to the project will be three studies, the results of which will inform decisions about improved planning and implementation of SuSanA.

One study will look at how online user experiences can be enhanced for SuSanA’s online knowledge-management resource (www.susana.org) and already lively discussion forum (www.forum.susana.org). The second study will be a marketing study to better understand the knowledge and networking needs of the global WASH community, particularly those parts of the community that could play a bigger role in SuSanA. One key outcome of this study will be the development of a major new communications strategy and implementation plan for SuSanA. The third study will look at how to ensure SuSanA’s long-term organizational sustainability.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Quick facts

The grant
Donor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Value of the grant: USD $2,735,000
Official grant title: “Supporting SuSanA and the broader Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Community of Practice through an online platform”
Dates: 3 years from 3 October 2016

Consortium: Stockholm Environment Institute, WaterAid, Oxfam and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, the German International Development Cooperation Agency, which hosts the SuSanA Secretariat), consultants: Ostella, Kellogg and Dotwerkstatt plus additional consultants to be tendered.

SuSanA
Current membership: 7500 individual network members and 282 partner organizations Local NGOs, International NGOs, Private sector, Education / Research, Governmental / State-owned organisations, Multilateral organisations, Networks / Associations.
Mission: to promote innovation and best practices in sanitation policy, programming, implementation and scaling up, by linking on-the-ground experience with an engaged community of practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and academics.

Key current SuSanA services which will be strengthened by the project:
1. SuSanA discussion forum: forum.susana.org/
2. SFD Portal: Excreta Flow Diagrams portal where information and resources at a city level can be found: sfd.susana.org/
3. A project database providing details for sanitation projects worldwide: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects xxx
4. The SuSanA library, containing over 2000 publications: www.susana.org/en/resources/library
5. SuSanA working groups: www.susana.org/en/working-groups/overview
6. Updates to Wikipedia articles dealing with sanitation topics; for example en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_defecation
7. Regular webinars run by the SuSanA Secretariat. SuSanA also offers a platform for Thematic Discussion Series: www.susana.org/en/resources/thematic-discussion-series
8. SuSanA Working Group Wikis which offer a platform for collaborative efforts to create website pages relevant to sustainable sanitation topics using “Wiki technology”: www.susana.org/en/susana-wiki?site=Swg1:Capacity_development

To learn more about this project and SuSanA, visit www.susana.org or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also ask questions about the new grant here in this thread.
Arno Rosemarin PhD
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Re: Re : [Wg1] SuSanA receives grant from Gates Foundation for its further development

Dear Arno,

Thanks for this great news for improving WASH and our Network SuSaN where we are partner.
Our organization is based in DR Congo where we are working on advocacy and sensitization of stakeholders to consume safe water. I would like to know how SuSaN partners will benefit from this fund to community projects regarding WASH?
Best wishes

Aaron
National Focal Point Sanitation and Water for All-OSC
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Re: Phase 3: Supporting sustainable sanitation through knowledge management and collaborative action within SuSanA

Thanks for your initial comments Violaa, Anthony and Aida.This message goes for all SuSanA members:

Over the next year as part of the Gates project, we will be performing a global market and users survey and this will then contribute to a comprehensive communications strategy and implementation plan. As part of this, we will be reaching out to the over 7500 SuSanA members to canvas their knowledge and network interests and needs. Some of the more dedicated individuals and organisations will be able to contribute directly to the study as country or even regional nodes in order to provide network contacts and priority areas of content. We plan to set up a task group within the SuSanA membership that will allow us to concentrate these efforts. There will be opportunity for remunerated assignments within this group as well eg provision of mailing lists and writing summaries reflecting priorities in your region or country of work. Looking forward to setting this up with you over the next several months.
Regards
--Arno
Arno Rosemarin PhD
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