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Municipal WASH Communities of Practice: Why MuniWASH Relies On Umbrella Associations

Wednesday, 12 May 2021
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The Municipal Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (MuniWASH) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Tetra Tech in Benin and in Côte d'Ivoire in collaboration with the African Water Association (AfWA) is supporting the Association Nationale des Communes du Bénin (ANCB) and the Union des Villes et Communes de Côte d'Ivoire  (UVICOCI) to create and organize communities of practice focused on the management of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for local municipalities.

The proposed communities of practice will bring together mayors and those in charge of technical or operational services in the municipalities to share knowledge and build on successful methods of managing water and sanitation services. ANCB in Benin and UVICOCI in Côte d'Ivoire represent all municipalities in each country, which makes them ideal partners to identify needs and support collaboration between municipalities and the project. MuniWASH relies on the experience of these umbrella organizations to develop a culture of exchange and promote sharing of good practices in management and extension of water and sanitation services.

The primary vision of the community of practice is to share between municipalities good practices in  water and sanitation services delivery.  The deconcentrated services in charge of water and sanitation management at the local level will participate to community of practice meetings according to themes requiring their expertise and intervention. Also, MuniWASH will provide the community of practice with a pool of experts to share their knowledge for the benefit of members of the municipal community of practice according to the targeted themes.

Implemented in 16 municipalities in Benin and Côte d'Ivoire (eight in each country), the MuniWASH project started in September 2019 and aims to facilitate coordination between public and      private actors and target municipalities to improve urban populations' access to better water and sanitation services by targeting poor and underserved populations in particular. The project is contributing to improving urban WASH service delivery by facilitating private investment, technical and operational capacity building, good governance, and learning and knowledge sharing.

UVICOCI, through its Secretary General Mrs. Harlette N'Guessan, welcomed the establishment of this community of practice stating: "it is a good initiative that will allow municipalities to be in permanent contact but also to learn from each other."In Benin, Mr. Sègla Lihoussou, Executive Director of ANCB, and Ms. Alladatin Emenique, ANCB Technical Assistant for WASH, supported the initiative and encouraged the MuniWASH team to do everything possible to ensure that this community of practice engages municipalities for continued collaboration. Mr. Lihoussou requested that MuniWASH "develop attractive themes [to keep the communes ]  interested in this community of practice.” These could include good practices in strategic planning and resource mobilization for financing the water and sanitation sector by municipalities, technological innovations in tools and equipment for municipal management of water and sanitation services, and successful models for strengthening the regulatory framework for the WASH sector.

To be useful to participants, the communities of practice must understand needs and communicate information effectively. MuniWASH breaks this work down into several phases: identification, documentation, dissemination and sharing to leverage experiences for learning. During its implementation, MuniWASH is producing learning notes developed from the experiences of the project, which are being disseminated through digital platforms and during WASH events to different audiences of professionals and public actors. MuniWASH is also working with ANCB and UVICOCI communities of practice members’ to promote bilateral experience sharing and to use their website to publish its learning notes on a virtual library. During its implementation MuniWASH will develop 90 learning notes that will be disseminated through electronic channels such as the African Water Association's knowledge sharing platform. MuniWASH will use the opportunities of the quarterly AfWA meetings to share the learning and knowledge of the project with all participants in order to increase the opportunities of dissemination of the learning products that will be produced.