WaterAid’s sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene programme, or SusWASH, is a five-year initiative aimed at addressing the long-term challenges of service sustainability and behaviour sustainability, as well as ensuring WASH services can be provided to all groups in society. The SusWASH programme is funded by the H&M Foundation.
At WaterAid we support direct service provision to demonstrate good practice. But crucially, we also strengthen the systems within which these WASH services and behaviours function to ensure they last long after our interventions end.
The SusWASH Programme (implemented in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Pakistan) aims to ensure that WASH access is both inclusive and sustainable. We're doing this by combining cross-sector integration with efforts that empower citizens and strengthen government, civil society, local private sector leadership and institutional processes.
In practical terms, this means working across all levels to improve WASH governance, coordination, planning, monitoring, financing, accountability and water resource management.
Why is systems strengthening important? Watch our short film...
The diagram below illustrates the focus of the SusWASH programme. Download to view full screen >
The aim is to ensure that behaviours and inclusive services have a greater chance of lasting.
Lessons and evidence generated from the programme will inform our future work and be used more broadly to advocate for changes in policy and practice at national and global levels. SusWASH aims to lay the foundations for improved inclusive WASH sustainability, ultimately contributing towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 – water and sanitation for all.
UN-DESA has recognised the systems strengthening approach used in the SusWASH Programme as good practice to reach the SDGs. Find out more.
Weyonje – Grassroots campaigning for sustainable solutions
Kamwokya II in the centre of Kampala, Uganda, is home to more than 6,000 people in less than half a square kilometre of land. Here, Christopher Tumwine leads a community action group – Weyonje – supported by WaterAid and Kampala Capital City Authority.
Weyonje campaigns for a sustainable solution to protect the community’s health, safety and dignity from overflowing sewers, filthy water and disease. They go house to house, talking to people about how to use toilets properly and dispose of the waste safely. During the COVID-19 pandemic, worried that projects to protect people from COVID-19 were leaving behind informal settlements, Weyonje began to also teach people about the importance of hygiene and handwashing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In 2019, before the pandemic, we followed Weyonje and Chris to witness an exciting moment for Kamwokya. Watch the film below, supported by H&M Foundation, to see what the team achieved.
Participatory programme design process
SusWASH is based on a participatory programme design process which helps to identify barriers to WASH sustainability and activities required to address them. Issues of gender, equity and inclusion, and corruption are also considered.
The SusWASH programme looks different in each country because it has been adapted to respond to challenges specific to the local context. The identification and prioritisation process is carried out in consultation with government, the local private sector, civil society and citizens, and takes into account whether other initiatives are under way in a specific area, and what meaningful outcomes the programme can achieve.
Click on the titles below to find out what we're doing in the four countries.
We are working predominantly with provincial and local governments to support their increased responsibilities in WASH service provision, as part of the ongoing decentralisation process in Cambodia.
More specifically this involves supporting the provincial government in Kampong Chhnang to assume new roles and responsibilities for operation and maintenance of water supply services and sanitation promotion. Together with provincial and district officials, WaterAid is working to strengthen their capacity and leadership and to address a number of key gaps, including:
- Improving provincial and district level WASH coordination mechanisms;
- Integrating SDG indicators into the existing monitoring and planning systems and strengthening the national Monitoring Information System
- Introducing the principles of life-cycle costing for district investment planning;
- Supporting the development of the new national Hygiene Behaviour Change Communication campaign;
- Assessing the market for safely-managed water supply options and making recommendations for their scale-up;
- Strengthening the market for sanitation and hygiene products; and
- Establishing systems to operate, maintain and rehabilitate existing water supply infrastructure using the local private sector.
We are also working with health care centres in Kampong Chhnang to upgrade their WASH facilities. Marginalised groups are being supported to identify barriers to their WASH access and opportunities to share their experience with authorities are being explored.
At the national level, WaterAid is supporting a review of the Ministry of Rural Development’s National Action Plan for Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene.
In Ethiopia we are working with the government to implement the One WASH National Plan (OWNP) at district level in Gololcha woreda (equivalent to a district), Oromia Province by:
- Improving sector coordination, planning and monitoring of WASH services;
- Mentoring the newly-established woreda WASH teams to fulfil their roles and responsibilities
- Assessing the status of infrastructure and WASH service levels with the aim of generating accurate data for targeting of investments;
- Supporting the enhancement of district level plans and budgets to include provision for post implementation support, not just the costs of providing first time access;
- Using improved district plans to advocate for the increased finance required to sustain WASH services and behaviours;
- Working with civil society to strengthen citizen representation and voice through establishment of community platforms;
- Advocating for integration of citizen voice platforms into the existing OWNP.
A management model is being devised for piped water supply services established in the district. In parallel, we will be conducting research into barriers to achieving and sustaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, applying the national school WASH strategy and reviewing the national government’s current hygiene behaviour change strategy. We will capture the lessons of this work and feed them into national government’s plans, strategies and campaigns, such as the second phase of the OWNP.
We are working with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to:
- Strengthen sector coordination, monitoring, planning and budgeting;
- Support KCCA directorates for Health, Education and Strategic Planning to include elements that strengthen the sustainability of WASH services within their current plans;
- Assess the effectiveness of existing citizen feedback and accountability mechanisms, with the aim of making recommendations on how they can be strengthened;
- Promoting the value of strong leadership and good governance with elected political representatives;
- Demonstrating WASH service and behavior change models in schools and healthcare facilities across the five divisions of Kampala;
- Supporting the integration of SDG 6 indicators into the existing national level sector performance measurement framework;
- Advocating for long-term institutional commitment to finance the full cost of sustaining WASH services and behaviours.
We will use the learning and evidence generated from the SusWASH programme in Uganda to support the Urban WASH reform process (led by the Ministry of Water and Environment) and to inform on-going sector research into regulation and capacity development initiatives.
We are working with local, district and provincial government in Sindh to:
- Strengthen coordination and planning processes via the District WASH Forum for improved resource allocation;
- Build capacity in WASH service level monitoring and mapping of government-installed WASH facilities for coordinated planning and budget allocation at district and provincial levels;
- Integrate additional sustainability indicators into the Sindh Education Monitoring Information System (SEMIS) to improve WASH performance monitoring in schools;
- Assess suitable management arrangements for government-installed piped water supply schemes, and gain buy-in for an assessment of their full life cycle costs;
- Assess the causes of poor functionality and abandonment of communal hand pumps;
- Implement a community-managed plus model for communal flood-resilient hand pumps;
- Train relevant government staff on an improved community-led total sanitation (CLTS/PATS) approach and support its roll-out in Thatta district;
- Understand the potential for establishing a follow-up mechanism to monitor ODF status over time;
- Develop a provincial-wide behaviour change communication strategy;
- Assess the effectiveness of existing citizen feedback mechanisms and the feasibility of using the District WASH Forum as an accountability platform;
- Assess the effectiveness and support the application of the Sindh Sanitation and Drinking Water policies at local levels.
Publications and resources
Understand our approach to sustainability.
See what WaterAid's sustainability experts have to say.
One of our key partners is the H&M Foundation.