What role does SuSanA play in your work? - Innovation system formation in international development cooperation: The role of intermediaries in urban sanitation

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  • marajohanna
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  • Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi everybody,

My name is Mara van Welie and I am a PhD student at Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology). My research focusses on innovation development in sustainable sanitation. I am interested in SuSanA`s role in fostering innovations in the field of sustainable sanitation.

Therefore, I would like to ask the participants of this forum what role does SuSanA play in your work/project/organization?
And if so, how does SuSanA benefit your work?

Your experiences and views on what SuSanA means for you and your work are very useful for my research, thank you for sharing them!
Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Dear Mara,

This will be an interesting piece of research and I wish you good luck with it!
I wonder if you have seen this previous forum thread where we asked a very similar question before:
forum.susana.org/10-announcements-regard...stories-and-examples
"How has SuSanA impacted your work? Please provide testimonials, stories and examples"

We did get some very interesting responses there but not as many as we would have liked to. I think people might be shy or too busy to write in such a thread. We sometimes do get nice feedback about SuSanA's work via e-mails or other forum posts but it is sporadic and ad-hoc (and we haven't been collecting or analysing it).

If you are using this for research then I think some forum posts might give you some initial impressions but probably not enough for actual "research". For that you probably need to do structured interviews with key informants (which you have done already, right?). And how about setting up a survey with Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and asking some multiple choice questions about how SuSanA or its working groups have been useful for people? At least that way you might get in the order of say 200 responses which might be a bit more representative than just 5 people who reply on the forum.

With regards to the working groups (your other post: forum.susana.org/69-relevant-for-all-wor...ps-play-in-your-work ) again, I would set up a survey with one of those survey tools and then send it to one or two working group mailing lists. (I probably wouldn't send it to all working group mailing lists because many people are subscribed in several groups and would get the same e-mail multiple times then).

If you wonder how many people are in the working groups mailing lists, see here:



The total number of SuSanA members at present is 9300 people.

This map shows where our members are (the darker the more members per country):



Looking forward to hearing more about your research, and helping in any way I can - I am also curious what role SuSanA and the WGs play in people's work.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • marajohanna
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  • Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Dear Elisabeth,

Thank you so much for your elaborate reply. Thanks for linking me to the other forum thread, which has interesting inputs on a similar question indeed! I understand that people are very busy to write in this type of threat, but it was worth a try, especially to reach people that I would maybe not reach in any other way.
In my research I use qualitative methods and therefore I indeed conduct expert interviews. I am after stories, anecdotes, personal views, etc. so a survey is not really the right method to collect such data, but using the WG mailing lists might be a good idea in the next steps.

I still hope that people are interested in sharing their views in this threat :)!

Mara
Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi Mara,

A year has passed - are you able to share some results from your research about "what role does SuSanA play in your work"? That would be great.

The reason why I am asking today is because I am still pondering over the question that Neil recently asked here: "Has SuSanA been able to demonstrate impact on sanitation?" forum.susana.org/10-announcements-regard...impact-on-sanitation . Is your PhD research able to provide some answers?

Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • marajohanna
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  • Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi Elisabeth,

Thank you, I finished my PhD indeed. However, I am still working on a research paper for publication on SuSanA, which is not finished yet. I will share a link as soon as it is. I hope it will an interesting read.
Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi Mara,
Congratulations on finishing your PhD! Is it publicly available for viewing?

I'll be honest with you: I always feel quite frustrated when I ask someone for results and they say, "I have a peer reviewed paper coming out; once that is published, you can read everything in there". The frustration comes from the fact that the paper publishing process can be lengthy (6-18 months is normal) and the paper might be behind a paywall. I understand that academics worry that their results should not be published elsewhere before the paper comes out. I get that.

But in this case, is there nothing that you could share already now on this forum? Some sentences from the conclusions? A powerpoint presentation that you have given somewhere? That would be great.

Or maybe I mistunderstood when you said "a research paper for publication on SuSanA" - perhaps you did not mean a peer-reviewed journal paper and hence the timelines would be shorter.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 3066
  • Karma: 54
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Mara sent me the following information by e-mail:

Link to her publications on Google Scholar: scholar.google.com/citations?user=NrHQz-sAAAAJ&hl=nl

Mara said: The paper about SuSanA in the thesis is an OLD VERSION, so it has been updated a lot since the thesis had to be handed in. I recommend you to wait for the final version. I will share the paper with you as soon as it is out, as well as with the other people who contributed to the work on SuSanA.

Information about her PhD thesis (there is an embargo on it which means it will be 6 months before it is publicly available, so probably by January 2020):

Link: www.narcis.nl/publication/RecordID/oai:d....uu.nl:1874%2F380446

Title Transition pathways of splintered regimes : Addressing sanitation provision challenges in informal settlements
Author van Welie, Mara Johanna
Thesis advisor Truffer, Bernhard, Boon, Wouter
Degree grantor University Utrecht
Date issued 2019-06-14
Access Embargoed Access
Reference(s) transition pathways, splintered regimes, socio-technical systems, sustainability transitions, innovation systems, informal settlements, sanitation, kenya
Language English
Type Doctoral thesis
Publisher Utrecht University

Abstract: (paragraph breaks added by me for easier reading online)

The world`s rapid urbanization leads to a multitude of problems in the provision of urban basic services such as transport, water, sanitation, electricity in cities in low-income countries, especially in informal settlements. Sanitation is a particular challenging urban basic service: 60% of the global population still lacks safely managed sanitation. This leads to sustainability issues, such as environmental contamination and hinders a healthy and productive life in cities.

The aim of the thesis is to analyse how innovations can contribute to fundamental changes towards sustainability in urban basic service sectors in low-income countries. To that end, insights from the field of sustainability transitions research are mobilized to analyse the interrelated factors that lead to obduracies in these sectors, as well as to identify challenges that innovators face when addressing the problems, and how their activities lead to potential transition pathways.

The thesis focusses on the case of sanitation provisioning in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. A city that is characterized by large inequalities between neighbourhoods in terms of sanitation provisioning. Especially the problems in informal settlements are severe. The findings provide insights in the provision and use of sanitation services in different neighbourhoods in Nairobi. The daily practices of users and providers are associated with particular well-established configurations of technologies, organizational forms, and user/provider routines, which are called “service regimes”.

Five service regimes exist in Nairobi’s sanitation sector based on domestic sewer, shared on-site, public, and container-based services and coping strategies. This large variety of service regimes has developed over the years to cater for the different contextual characteristics in the city. Especially in informal settlements, a complex variety of service regimes is found. The sector is weakly planned and the different service regimes are not coordinated. This means that many services do not function optimally and effectively for users and providers: waste is not well-managed and users do not have 24/7 access to well-functioning hygienic services. The service regimes thus form a splintered regime at the sectoral level. Several actors in Nairobi pursue innovation strategies to improve this situation. The public utility recently started to extend its operations into informal settlements, after having neglected these areas for decades.

Another innovation strategy is pursued by social enterprises and NGOs, which try to develop new on-site “sanitation value chains” in informal settlements. Sanitation chains consist of various interlinked activities that lead to the production of faecal sludge based products, while at the same time providing sanitation services. Not all resources for innovative activities can be mobilized at the local level. At the global level, several actors and networks in international development cooperation aim to establish a globally accepted paradigm of safely managed non-grid sanitation. As a result of these innovation strategies, Nairobi’s splintered regime will develop over time. The often aspired transition to a “monolithic regime” based on a centralized sewerage system seems unrealistic in the coming years, because it is difficult to expand the domestic sewer regime into informal settlements, and various other service regimes are well-established. Instead, a much broader set of possible end-points of transition pathways towards sustainability can be identified.

All in all, the thesis provides conceptual and empirical insights in transition processes in basic service sectors in cities in-low income countries. It elaborates how sustainability transitions research can take into account a multiplicity of service regimes in which diverse innovation activities take place, which leads to the identification of a variety of possible end-points of transitions, other than a dominant monolithic regime. These conceptual extensions are also of relevance for transition research beyond the context of cities in low-income countries.

Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • dorothee.spuhler
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Re: new paper about SuSanA contributing to the innovation system for safely managed non-grid sanitation solutions

Dear all

Some colleagues here at Eawag just published an scientific article about SuSanA and its contributing to the innovation system for safely managed non-grid sanitation solutions.
Some of you might also find this interesting. some of the conclusions might also contribute to the current change management process we are going through....

Innovation system formation in international development cooperation: The role of intermediaries in urban sanitation
Mara J van Welie, Wouter P C Boon, Bernhard Truffer
Science and Public Policy, scaa015, doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scaa015 , 19 February 2020
academic.oup.com/spp/advance-article/doi...ipol/scaa015/5740778

Abstract: "The transformation of urban basic service sectors towards more sustainability is one of the ‘grand challenges’ for public policy, globally. A particular urgent problem is the provision of sanitation in cities in low-income countries. The globally dominant centralised sewerage approach has proven incapable to reach many of the urban poor. Recently, an increasing number of actors in international development cooperation has started to develop alternative safely managed non-grid approaches. We approach their efforts as an emerging ‘global innovation system’ and investigate how its development can be supported by systemic intermediaries. We analyse the activities of the ‘Sustainable Sanitation Alliance’, an international network that coordinates activities in the sanitation sector and thereby supports this innovation system. The findings show how demand ing it is to fulfil an intermediary role in a global innovation system, because of the need to consider system processes at different scales, in each phase of system building."
WG1 Co-lead
Working with Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management (SSWM): www.sswm.info
Currently doing research on generating sanitation system options for urban planners and quantifying mass flows for a broad range of options considering novel technologies as an input into decision-making: www.tinyurl.com/eawag-grasp
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  • marajohanna
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  • Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi all,

Finally, the article I wrote about innovation system formation in international development cooperation, with SuSanA featuring as a case, is published (open access :)). You can find it here: academic.oup.com/spp/advance-article/doi...ipol/scaa015/5740778
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Best regards,
Mara
Mara J. van Welie, PhD student at Eawag (Department of Environmental Social Sciences)
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 3066
  • Karma: 54
  • Likes received: 837

Re: What role does SuSanA play in your work?

Hi,

Thanks for this. SuSanA is not mentioned in the title but is the focus of this paper, and mentioned 93 times in the paper.

It's interesting to see our work subjected to a theoretical analysis. I like in particular how the authors have identified these three phases for SuSanA's history:

- Phase 1 (2007–09): Alignment and articulation
- Phase 2 (2010–16): Supporting learning processes
- Phase 3 (from 2017 onwards): Directionality and global reach

I have pulled the three phases and a few statements from the paper and integrated them into the Wikipedia article about SuSanA:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Sanitation_Alliance

Namely these ones:

SuSanA fulfills an "intermediary role" in a global innovation system. It was found to be a "prime mover" in in the development of "safely managed non-grid sanitation".[14]

The activities of SuSanA so far have a tendency to take place and be driven by actors in the Global North, especially by European actors.[14] To overcome this to some extent, SuSaA set-up local "chapters" in India in 2016, West Asia and North Africa (WANA) in 2017, and Latin America in 2018.[14]


Let me know if anything else stands out for you that we should ponder over or include in the Wikipedia article.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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