WASH Systems Academy


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We know what it takes to ensure services that last: holistic thinking and strong systems. Now, with the WASH Systems Academy, everyone can understand the basics of how to use system thinking to deliver resilient water and sanitation services.

The Academy is the first free online learning platform developed to empower professionals around the world with lasting solutions to end the cycle of infrastructure failure that prevents over 4.5 billion people from getting the basic services they need and the human rights they are entitled to. Join us in building strong WASH systems together!

The WASH Systems Academy is the first free online platform developed to empower professionals from around the world with the knowledge and tools they need to create strong systems that can deliver lasting water and sanitation services for all.

Project description

What problem are you trying to solve?
Access to water and sanitation forms the very foundation of a healthy and dignified life. It is essential to improved health, education and livelihoods. Yet around the world, 2.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 4.5 billion people are without safe sanitation. But why?

One-off projects and aid-based initiatives are eager to fund pumps and toilets, but little attention is given to the systems that keep those services running. As many as 40% of services do not function as they should, delivering insufficient or unsafe water supplies; costing time, money and lives.

What we need is a different approach, one which understands and considers the world and its inherent complexity and empowers professionals to flourish within an interdependent reality. Pipes, pumps and toilets cannot deliver a service—but a robust network of factors, actors, motivations and interactions can. It’s time to move beyond simple solutions and towards holistic thinking to lead to lasting change for all.

What is your solution to this problem?
Systems thinking is the only way to address the world’s most wicked challenges. It’s time to create a world where the cycle of learning never stops and where holistic thinking is applied to improve the lives and livelihoods of everyone, everywhere. And where best to start than at the very foundation of our needs—with the right to water and sanitation.

Thanks to the internet, learning is now free and open to all. Online self-paced courses allow people from all contexts to connect to state-of-the-art knowledge and new ideas.

We already know what it takes to drive the change needed to reach everyone with these vital services. The Academy is the first online platform which capitalises on existing tools and approaches and guides professionals from government, civil society, private sector and universities in applying them to overcome real challenges. There are no mysteries to solving this problem. It’s time to make these lessons universal and finally secure the right to water and sanitation.

What is your latest update on your innovation?
Beta testing of the WASH systems academy basic course is currently underway with over 80 individuals from around the globe. Feedback from testing highlights that it is a highly valued new resource. All testers recommend the course, came to new insights and found the platform easy to use.

The WASH Academy will officially launch in September 2019 with the basic course, followed by the specialist course on the building blocks of sustainable services in December. In 2020, two new specialist courses are expected on ‘Financing resilient WASH systems’ and ‘Driving change for strong WASH systems’ to be made available.

The WASH Systems Academy forms the starting point for a longer-term vision of a broader learning programme on WASH systems strengthening. It is connected to face-to-face training materials, to be used as part of workshops, face-to-face trainings and advisory services from September 2019.



Jeske Verhoeven

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