Tetra Tech is developing and demonstrating systems-based approaches to improving the sustainability of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services around the world.

The Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) is a global U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cooperative agreement led by the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) and a consortium of eight partners—Environmental Incentives, IRC, LINC, Tetra Tech, University of Oxford, UNICEF Kenya, WaterSHED, and Whave.

As part of the SWS consortium, Tetra Tech aims to develop, demonstrate, learn, and share findings related to systems-based approaches to improve the sustainability of WASH service delivery. A systems-based approach seeks to engage the entire system that sustains WASH services by mapping and understanding the stakeholders and factors that comprise the system; analyzing the system to identify leverage points and opportunities for impact; and incorporating this analysis into future programming.

This is a learning activity focused on developing and sharing lessons to provide guidance to USAID and inform future sector activities and interventions. It brings new ideas, approaches, and tools necessary for achieving the sector’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and explores opportunities for improving sustainability at different entry points (national dialogue, district-level support, and community system strengthening). Through coordinated monitoring and learning activities, Tetra Tech and the SWS consortium will develop key questions, test hypotheses, identify needed course corrections, and document and share lessons learned.

SWS will target two primary outcomes: Improve the effectiveness of USAID WASH programming and catalyze national and international uptake of successful systems-based approaches, as assessed through SWS. To achieve this, the SWS consortium will concurrently test four concepts, as well as undertake systematic and rigorous evidenced-based learning at the concept, country, and consortium levels.

As part of the SWS consortium, Tetra Tech, in partnership with LINC and IRC, is implementing concept one of the project—Improving Decentralized Water Supply and Sanitation Service Delivery by Understanding and Influencing Local Systems in Ethiopia and Uganda. Under concept one, the consortium is developing and testing an approach to engaging, understanding, and strengthening decentralized district-level systems for water and sanitation service delivery. We are applying systems mapping and analysis tools—including organizational network analysis and factor mapping and analysis—using stakeholders involved in delivering services in rural areas and small towns. Through this process, we are aiming to produce actionable insights into relationships, interactions, leverage points, and material flows across the service delivery system.

Tetra Tech leads work focused on small-town sanitation in Woliso (Oromia Region) and Debre Birhan (Amhara Region), Ethiopia. The goal of the small-town sanitation component is to improve quality and sustainability of sanitation services in these contexts by strengthening local systems responsible for service delivery to operate more effectively and efficiently, which allows for greater access to sanitation services and reduced risk for disease or water-borne illness. Following the Collective Impact Principles of Practice and based on the findings of the systems analyses, Tetra Tech has established learning alliances consisting of relevant local stakeholders to develop and implement short- and medium-term action research plans to improve sanitation service quality and sustainability.

At the end of the project, the SWS consortium will have produced a suite of learning materials based on years of research throughout Africa and parts of Asia. The ultimate goal is to provide USAID with a comprehensive assessment of water and sanitation needs and recommendations on how to achieve WASH solutions in future programs.