2013 was an important year for the Bangladesh WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health) Alliance in Bangladesh. For the first time all WASH partners measured their outcomes in terms of numbers of households that now use safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and hygienic practices. This outcome measurement that took place in November-December 2013 was the basis for this reflection and planning workshop. Ben Haagsma, FSAS was requested to facilitate this 4 days’ workshop, as he had already been involved in previous steps with the Bangladesh WASH alliance.
- assessed the Theory of Change (TOC) that has been made in November 2012
- updated the TOC based on the 2013 outcomes: intended and unintended!
- agreed on the broad outlines for the 2014 planning
The workshop was very stimulating and productive for a stronger understanding of the TOC as learning and planning tool. Actively using and discussing the 2013 outcomes the 5 small working groups produced surprising results: all TOCs were reviewed, updated and corrected. This process covered all key components of the TOC: the pathway of change, assumptions and activities.
All pathways of change were updated; new pathways of change were added where the programme decided to involve a new actor; the lobby oriented pathway of change was completely overhauled and became more illustrative for the complex character of policy change at national levels. All changes or outcomes are now formulated by specifying the WHO and the WHAT!
The relation between WASH activities and ‘pathway of change’ became clearer. Some WASH activities are simply initial activities; other WASH activities depend on the extent to which outcomes emerge. This understanding made the relation between WASH activities and outcomes more realistic and less mechanistic. Monitoring – and learning about – the emerging outcomes by WASH partners has become a key activity, because this determines the (re)planning of WASH activities.
The assumptions have also been discussed and assessed. Which assumptions still hold? Which can be deleted? Which need to be added? Some assumptions led to additional activities in order to manage these assumptions.
As for the activities the main focus was on joint activities. Within the TOC concept the joint activities are those activities that the Alliance has to implement in order to get an optimal contribution to the achievement of overall pathway of change. The proper balance between joint and individual activities is therefore a key concern and question. Some pathways of change require a high proportion of joint activities, others a lower relative weight of joint activities.
After this workshop the partners will now start elaborating their individual work plans inspired by the updated TOCs. They also have a clearer idea on which partner has most added value for specific pathways of change.