Sustainable Service at Scale (S3): a multi-country learning project to improve rural water service delivery

2008 - 2014 • IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Purpose

To deliver change in the paradigm by which rural water services are delivered: from hardware to services that last

Activities

Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) was a six-year, multi-country learning initiative aimed at contributing to addressing the challenge of sustainability of rural water supply. Triple-S pursued a vision of “sustainable rural water services at scale” where all rural people can easily and reliably access water that is of good quality and sufficient quantity, from a source that is reliable and easily accessible. Triple-S sought to contribute to this vision by catalysing a “whole system change” in the WASH sector.

At the heart of this change process is a shift in mission for the sector: away from the provision of new infra-structure and towards the provision of service. The service delivery approach championed through the Triple-S project focuses on long-term provision of water services at scale, as opposed to the implementation of one-off projects at the community level. Sustainable water services require on-going support for service providers and governments in charge of planning and sector coordination as well as a radical shift in the way the main stakeholders, and specifically external aid agencies, operate in the rural water supply sector.

Countries of activity

Location of main activity

Objectives

- The “What”: relating to “what” the rural water sector needs to do in order to move away from an almost exclusive focus on new investments (putting pipes in the ground to increase coverage) to one that is focused on sustainable services at scale. Triple-S sought to articulate what the elements of such a Service Delivery Approach (SDA) are and communicate about those in a clear and accessible manner;
- The “How”: this relates to “how” such a change in approach can be influenced in the context of a “complex system” such as the rural water sector. Triple-S sought to demonstrate that a “whole systems change” approach can work to deliver lasting change, i.e. by influencing the different actors whose actions need to be aligned in order to deliver sustainable services. It also develops a vision whereby a “backbone organisation” (embodied by IRC in this context) supports and promotes a shift in culture, to emphasise learning and experimentation and foster change at sector level.

Further information

Research or implementation partners:
Partners included AguaConsult, UK. In Ghana the Community Water and Sanitation Agency. In Uganda the Ministry of Water and Environment , Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS) , Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation Uganda .

Filter tags

Asia & Pacific Behaviour change Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Enabling environment and institutional strengthening International NGO Operation, maintenance and sustainable services Practitioners Public awareness, advocacy and civil society engagement Rural Rural areas Specific to one or several countries

Links

IRC
The Hague
Netherlands


Established in 1968, IRC is an international think-and-do tank that works with governments, NGOs, entrepreneurs and people around the world to find long-term solutions to the global crisis in water, sanitation and hygiene services. For more information please visit www.ircwash.org

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