A “rapid action learning and sharing workshop” organised by the Government of India, WSSCC and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has highlighted a number of best practices and innovations aimed at accelerating India’s Swachh Bharat Gramin campaign for universal sanitation coverage by 2019 – the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth.
Nearly 100 participants, including senior policy-makers from India’s Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and state governments, practitioners, “champions” and representatives from 19 development partners came together for the two-day workshop in Bhopal last month (August 18-19) with a fourfold agenda:
According to the organisers, Getting to Swachh Bharat Gramin Faster Through Rapid Action Learning and Sharing was, “conceived against a backdrop of enormous scale, diversity, complexity, obstinacy and urgency of the problem of rural sanitation and poor hygiene behaviour, and the failures of earlier programmes”.
The workshop included brainstorming sessions, presentations of case studies, group learning on methods, approaches and innovations, a demonstration of triggering for collective behaviour change, knowledge sharing by Natural Leaders, presentations by seven innovating champion District Collector/Magistrate/ZP CEOs and contributions via various group activities from a range of civil society representatives, federal and state government agencies and development partners, including UNICEF, WSP, World Bank, Plan-international, WaterAid, Save the Children, FANSA and the CLTS Foundation.
Designed to be participatory, the workshop was an informative, lively and constructive response to emerging priorities and opportunities. Thanks to the participants’ input, several factors were identified as essential to achieving an open defecation free (ODF) India:
Likewise, the participants identified a number of key challenges India faces in its quest for sustainable ODF, namely:
By the end of the workshop, eight key themes emerged with the consensus being they must serve as priorities for development:
In a pedagogic sense, the workshop was also an education in the art of rapid action workshops.
Four priorities for future proactive action learning, innovation and documentation stood out from the event, namely: capacity building and how to inspire, multiply, support and ensure continuity of champions at all levels; finding, developing and spreading more approaches and methods to take to scale beyond the “islands of success” represented at the workshop; recruiting and capacity building for committed and competent knowledge management staff to support and promote action learning and sharing; and Rapid Action Learning Units (RALUs) as an option for states and Districts to take rapid action learning into their own hands
Giving their feedback, almost all participants said that they had learnt new ideas and innovations from the workshop and planned to share these. They also reported that many other innovations are being tried and tested across India, which were not all mentioned or represented in the workshop but need to be identified, documented and shared. Rapid action learning and sharing on a much wider scale will thus form part of the on-going follow up.
A full report capturing the workshop’s processes, discussions and consolidated outputs (innovation and learning), and inputs from several development partners, is available at: www.communityledtotalsanitation.org/sites/communityledtotalsanitation.org/files/Full_Report_Rapid_Action_Learning_Sharing_Workshop.pdf
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