Systems strengthening as the next gamechanger for sanitation

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  • lourdesv
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  • Arquitecta, trabajando en temas de agua, saneamiento y medio ambiente desde el año 2003, creo en estrategias de educación ambiental y cambio de comportamiento. En mi día a día trato de dejar un mundo mejor al prójimo.
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Re: Systems strengthening as the next gamechanger for sanitation

After reading the article I have some insights on the effectiveness of interventions to improve access to water, comparing systemic and decentralized approaches, especially in the context of developing countries and without looking for a single recipe.

Knowing the reality and conditions of my country, we have had the experience that decentralized interventions  can be more sustainable and appropriate in developing countries.

This approach has allowed us over the years to:

1. Local Innovation: Local communities know their needs and constraints better. A decentralized approach allows for innovative solutions tailored to specific contexts.
2. Adaptability: The ability to quickly adjust to local changes and challenges is crucial. Decentralized interventions can more easily adapt to changing conditions and emerging needs.
3. Community Participation: Involving communities in decision-making increases the acceptance and success of interventions. Decentralization fosters community participation and empowerment.
4. Reduced Bureaucracy: Decentralization can reduce bureaucracy and streamline project implementation, making the process more efficient.

On the other hand, systematic interventions have shown better results in developing countries that have a solid structure, adequate capacities and resources. I appreciate that the systemic approach allows:

1. Consistency and Uniformity: Projects can be implemented uniformly throughout the country, making it easier to evaluate and compare results.
2. Scalability: With sufficient resources and capacities, systematic interventions can be replicated on a large scale, benefiting more people.
3. Efficient Coordination: A centralized approach facilitates coordination between different levels of government and actors, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.
4. Efficient Resource: With centralized planning, resources can be allocated and used more efficiently, avoiding duplications and optimizing investments.In summary,

I believe that decentralized interventions may be more suitable for developing countries where the state often lacks factors that contribute to its strength such as: institutional capacity, governance and transparency, political stability, legitimacy and financial resources. In this case, a decentralized approach allows for innovation, adaptability and greater community participation, which is crucial in contexts where needs and conditions vary widely, which we have seen in many Latin American countries.

On the other hand, systematic interventions are more effective in countries that have a solid structure and sufficient resources. The consistency and ability to scale these programs make this approach ideal in contexts where the state has strong institutional capacity.The key is to assess the specific context and choose the approach that best suits local realities, combining, where possible, the best of both worlds to improve access to water in a sustainable and effective way.

Después de leer el articulo quisiera compartir algunas ideas sobre la eficacia de las intervenciones para mejorar el acceso al agua, comparando los enfoques sistemicos y descentralizados, especialmente en el contexto de los países en desarrollo y sin buscar una única receta.

Conociendo la realidad y condiciones de mi país, hemos tenido la experiencia que las intervenciones descentralizadas  pueden ser más sostenibles y adecuadas en los países en desarrollo. Este enfoque nos ha permitido a lo largo de los años:
  1. Innovación Local: Las comunidades locales conocen mejor sus necesidades y limitaciones. Un enfoque descentralizado permite soluciones innovadoras adaptadas a contextos específicos.
  2. Adaptabilidad: La capacidad de ajustarse rápidamente a los cambios y desafíos locales es crucial. Las intervenciones descentralizadas pueden adaptarse más fácilmente a las condiciones cambiantes y a las necesidades emergentes.
  3. Participación Comunitaria: Involucrar a las comunidades en la toma de decisiones aumenta la aceptación y el éxito de las intervenciones. La descentralización fomenta la participación y el empoderamiento comunitario.
  4. Reducción de Burocracia: La descentralización puede reducir la burocracia y agilizar la implementación de proyectos, haciendo el proceso más eficiente.

Por otro lado, las intervenciones sistemáticas han demostrado mejores resultados en países en desarrollo que poseen una estructura sólida, capacidades y recursos adecuados. Aprecio que el enfoque sistémico permite:
  1. Consistencia y Uniformidad: Los proyectos pueden implementarse de manera uniforme en todo el país, lo que facilita la evaluación y comparación de resultados.
  2. Escalabilidad: Con suficientes recursos y capacidades, las intervenciones sistemáticas pueden replicarse en gran escala, beneficiando a más personas.
  3. Coordinación Eficiente: Un enfoque centralizado facilita la coordinación entre diferentes niveles de gobierno y actores, asegurando que todos trabajen hacia los mismos objetivos.
  4. Recurso Eficiente: Con una planificación centralizada, los recursos pueden asignarse y utilizarse de manera más eficiente, evitando duplicidades y optimizando inversiones.

En resumen, creo que las intervenciones descentralizadas pueden ser más adecuadas para países en desarrollo donde el estado a menudo carece de factores que contribuyen a su fortaleza como: capacidadinstitucional, gobernanza y transparencia, estabilidad política, legitimidad y recursos financieros. En este caso un enfoque descentralizado permite innovación, adaptabilidad y una mayor participación comunitaria, lo cual es crucial en contextos donde las necesidades y condiciones varían ampliamente, lo cual hemos visto en muchos países de Latinoamérica.

Por otro lado, las intervenciones sistemáticas son más efectivas en países que poseen una estructura sólida y suficientes recursos. La consistencia y la capacidad de escalar estos programas hacen que este enfoque sea ideal en contextos donde el estado tiene una fuerte capacidad institucional.La clave está en evaluar el contexto específico y elegir el enfoque que mejor se adapte a las realidades locales, combinando, cuando sea posible, lo mejor de ambos mundos para mejorar el acceso al agua de manera sostenible y eficaz.
Lourdes Valenzuela
Regional SuSanA Coordinator (Latinoamérica)
Directora de comunicación AGUATUYA

Calle Nicolás Ortiz no. 33 (a media cuadra de la Av. Calampampa)
Tel (591) 4 424 2164
Casilla 6264
Cochabamba – Bolivia

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www.aguatuya.org
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  • paresh
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Re: Systems strengthening as the next gamechanger for sanitation

Sharing this related piece by Hannah Crichton-Smith, a senior advisor at Water Aid. The piece focuses on the organisation's work in strengthening systems, which can help understand the meaning of the term 'systems thinking', the use of which is very nebulous in my understanding.  The work the author highlights are 
  • Analysing barriers 
  • working in partnerships with local stakeholders 
  • demonstrating models that can be replicated 
  • Strengthening institutions 
  • empowering communities 
  • advocating and campaigning
  • Continuous learning and adaptation 
From the piece, I understand that "systems thinking" refers to a comprehensive understanding of the complexities involved in providing WASH services to everyone. Rather than viewing the issue in isolation or focusing solely on specific aspects like infrastructure, systems thinking involves considering the interconnected factors, including policy and governance, financial resources, infrastructure development, cultural norms, community involvement, and climate resilience influence the availability, accessibility, and sustainability of WASH services. 
It involves recognizing that the provision of WASH services consists of many components, including policy and governance, financial resources, infrastructure development, cultural norms, community involvement, and climate resilience. Systems thinking acknowledges that these components are interconnected and that changes in one area can affect the entire system. It also recognises the dynamic nature of the problem and solutions need to adapt to the changing circumstances. That is,  systems thinking involves understanding the entire ecosystem of factors that contribute to or hinder the provision of WASH services and working holistically to address them to achieve sustainable and universal access to services.

Please feel free to populate this thread with articles and/or your experience/ opinion that make the term 'systems' less nebulous.

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @Sparsh85
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  • ElaineMercer
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  • Communications and Networking Officer for the Sanitation Learning Hub, Institute of Development Studies, in the UK.
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Systems strengthening as the next gamechanger for sanitation

Hi all, 

Systems strengthening is essential to sanitation progress.

In her blog ' Systems strengthening as the next gamechanger for sanitation ', Ann Thomas (UNICEF) presents key areas to build on:

💡Innovative sanitation policy
📣Leveraging collective action
✍️Monitoring indirect results
🌦️Climate-resilient sanitation

Have a read and share your thoughts on the issue!

Many thanks
Elaine 
Elaine Mercer
Communications and Networking Officer
The Sanitation Learning Hub
The Institute of Development Studies
sanitationlearninghub.org/

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