With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, R4D founded the WASH Impact Network in April 2015 with the support of our regional partners, Dasra in India, and Millennium Water Alliance in East Africa. The WASH Impact Network comprises 120 WASH not-for-profit, hybrid and for-profit organizations in India and East Africa that are implementing programs in a wide range of WASH subsectors. More can be learned about each of the programs by browsing their profiles here. Our work with the network combines peer learning with a research agenda focusing on how innovative WASH ideas spread, get taken up, and are scaled (or not).
The WASH Impact Network rests on the belief that the best WASH innovations come from the community level, not outside technocrats. Our goal is to understand the barriers facing communities in accessing WASH services, connect local innovators to each other for peer learning, and leverage learning opportunities to help them increase their reach.
To do this, we first identified barriers to innovation through a needs assessment that identified organizational gaps preventing grassroots organizations in the WASH sector from implementing new ideas successfully. The top three needs identified were operational financing, peer networks, and technical expertise.
The next step was to gather insights on the learning and innovation process currently embraced by organizations in the Network, focusing on how they attempt to overcome the barriers that prevent them from implementing new ideas, and the “active ingredients” that lead to their success.
Building on those insights, our goals are to share solutions with the members of the Network and the broader international development sector. We connect Network programs to resources and learning opportunities, and in so doing test methods for how organizations learn, feeding those lessons back to international development stakeholders interested in supporting knowledge sharing in the WASH sector and beyond.
Finally, we track progress within the Network to evaluate the extent to which the customized content and innovative delivery methods of learning led to greater uptake of innovative ideas among organizations in the Network.