WASH and the Systems Approach

Increasing Interest in the Agenda for Change and Investments in the Systems ApproachIRC WASH, December 2016. IRC’s CEO Patrick Moriarty discusses key takeaways from the 2016 UNC Water and Health Conference and the growing number of individuals and organizations becoming aware of the necessity of strengthening national WASH systems—and of adopting a systems-based approach. It represents an important step forward that so many in the WASH sector are moving toward strengthening systems rather than just providing hardware.

Systems Thinking: Unlocking the Sustainable Development GoalsEco-Business, October 2016. The world has made some good progress toward advancing the SDGs, but a key piece is missing from these efforts, says Forum for the Future Deputy Chief Executive Stephanie Draper. That is: systems thinking.

Systems Strengthening Thematic Keynote at the UNC Water and Health Conference 2016. (PowerPoint presentation). Heather Skilling, DAI, October 2016. In this presentation, Ms. Skilling discusses her WASH experiences and states that several characteristics of a systems-based approach are: a shift away from fixed, long-term planning to more iterative and adaptive planning based on learning and experimentation; a focus on multi-stakeholder approaches and co-creation with local stakeholders; and a movement away from piecemeal project-by-project progress and toward sector change.

Can Agent-Based Simulation Models Help Us to Improve Services in Complex WASH Systems? IRC WASH, December 2016. In this blog the author discusses the use of a complementary modeling tool to understand and analyze complex social interactions in WASH: an agent-based modeling (ABM) tool. ABM can help practitioners to: diagnose the system; explore the effects of policy interventions; and discuss with partners and clients how the theory of complex systems affects them.

Towards ‘Sustainable’ Sanitation: Challenges and Opportunities in Urban Areas.Sustainability, December 2016. Sustainable sanitation is not a single technology or specific limited sanitation system design, but rather an approach where a broad set of criteria needs to be taken into consideration to achieve universal and equitable access to services over the long-term in a particular context.

Improving Health in Cities Through Systems Approaches for Urban Water ManagementEnvironmental Health, March 2016. This paper reviews links between water and health in cities and describes how the application of four main elements of systems approaches—analytic methods to deal with complexity, interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and multi-scale thinking—can yield benefits for health in the urban water management context.

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