WSSCC and 3ie co-host Sanitation for All Conference in New Delhi


Sessions discussed the impact of quality research evidence on the WASH sector in India

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the international grant-making NGO, 3ie, co-hosted a conference in New Delhi, India on November 15th, centering around the impact of high quality research evidence on the sanitation and hygiene sector in India.

The conference which was held at the India Habitat Centre was part of the 2016 3ie Evidence Week 2016, aimed at promoting conversation on increasing production, synthesis and use of high quality evidence for informing policies and programmes that help improve poor people’s lives.

The key message that resounded in all presentations was that complex development problems require complex solutions to be addressed.

In his opening lecture, Michael Woolcock, lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, highlighted the need to be aware of the fact that complex intervention imposes obligation and that the type of evidence generated by research should match the type of problem to be addressed. His argument was that the task of research is to help implementation.

Dr. Woolcock also highlighted the importance of considering causal density, implementation capability, contextual compatibility and reasoned expectations when taking an intervention from one context to another or when scaling-up.

The role of evidence in accelerating access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all by 2030 was also extensively discussed. A research project carried out by Andres Hueso of WaterAid shows that the major knowledge gaps in the Water Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH ) sector are urban sanitation, behaviour change, working at scale, working cross-sector and reaching the poorest. The sector also needs to move from proving that sanitation is important to focusing on “how” to do it and adopt a more open, inclusive, and learning-oriented mindset.

Another highlight at the event was how evidence could be used to address gender and equity related challenges in WASH. In her remarks, Archana Patkar, Programme Manager at WSSCC, articulated that gender blind evidence perpetuates inequalities, highlighting the need for non-negotiable gender questions to be embedded in each research.

She quizzed participants as to why evidence for research shies away from addressing stigma and discrimination. She concluded that it is important to bring key nuggets in research in a shared dialogue to address changing mind sets with sanitation and hygiene as an entry point.

In the last session of the day entitled ‘Using behaviour change approaches to promote sustained latrine use’, Chris Williams the Executive Director of WSSCC discussed how behavioural change interventions can integrate equity. He gave examples of how WSSCC has integrated models of Menstrual Hygiene Management into CLTS to emphasize the importance of looking at behavioural change as an essential ingredient for equity.

Tweets from the Sanitation for All conference in New Delhi