Cookie tracking notice
Are we allowed to crumble with cookies and anonymous tracking?

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site (so called session cookies), while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). We use the application Matomo and the external service etracker to analyze your behavior on our website anonymously. Because we value your privacy, we are here with asking your permission to use the following technologies. You can change your settings any time via this link or the menu item in footer menu. For more information visit our Data Policy

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

2008 - 2014 • IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre


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


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


- 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

Behaviour change Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation East Asia & Pacific 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


The Hague

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

view profile page

Uploaded by:
danijela milosevic (milli)

Share this page on    

Networks Circle


Latest SuSanA Blog Articles

SuSanA Blog »

SuSanA newsletter

Stay informed about the activities of SuSanA and its partners. The SuSanA newsletter is sent out around four times per year. It contains information about news, events, new partners, projects, discussions and publications of the SuSanA network.

Subscribe to newsletter »




Resources and publications

Our library has more than 3,000 publications, factsheets, presentations, drawings etc. from many different organisations. It continues to grow thanks to the contributions from our partners.

Add item to library »

The three links below take you to special groups of items in the library for more convenient access:


The project database contains nearly 400 sanitation projects of many different organizations dealing with research, implementation, advocacy, capacity development etc. Advanced filtering functions and a global map are also available. Information on how and why this database was created is here.

People working for SuSanA partners can add their own projects through their partner profile page. You might need your SuSanA login upgraded for this purpose. Please contact us if you would like to add a project.

Trainings, conference and events materials

Missed important conferences or courses? Catch up by using their materials for self study. These materials have been kindly provided by SuSanA partners.

Shit flow diagrams, excreta flow diagrams (309 SFDs worldwide)

Shit flow diagrams (SFDs) help to visualize excreta management in urban settings. Access SFDs and more through the SFD Portal.

Emersan eCompendium

Humanitarian Sanitation Hub

Sanitation Workers Knowledge and Learning Hub




Discussion forum

Share knowledge, exchange experiences, discuss challenges, make announcements, ask questions and more. Hint: Your discussion forum login is the same as your SuSanA login. More about the forum's philosophy »

Integrated content

We are hosting content from some other communities of practice and information-sharing portals. This section also provides a link to SuSanA's Sanitation Wikipedia initiative.

Suggest content to add »

SuSanA partners

Not yet a SuSanA partner? Show your organisation's support to SuSanA's vision and engage in  knowledge sharing by becoming partners.

Apply to become a partner »

Individual membership

Register as an individual member of SuSanA free of charge. As a member you can interact with thousands of sanitation enthusiasts on the discussion forum.  You can also get engaged in one of our 13 working groups and our regional chapters. Our FAQs explain the benefits further.

By getting a SuSanA login you can fully participate in the SuSanA community!

Register as a member


Forgot your password?
Forgot your username?