With the increasing awareness of learning and sharing as an integral part of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services sustainability, there is the gradual attempt by sector players to ensure its uptake across Ghana.
WASH stakeholders in the Volta Region launched its first Regional Level Learning Alliance Platform (RLLAP) on 13th March, 2013. The Deputy Regional Director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) who chaired the event gave the opening address. He stressed on the need to share information, stating that loads of information have been gathered by past and present initiatives but little sharing has been done. He indicated that this is the time to form partnerships and encourage multi stakeholder dialogues to enable us learn from our experiences. He stated that, that will enable us develop capacities to meet future WASH challenges. He called on all to take the platform seriously and appreciate the great opportunity it offers. He also stated that the platform will furthermore open the door to more interaction and networking among sector stakeholders within the region and beyond. On that score he declared the first meeting officially opened on behalf of the Director who he stood in for.
Mr Abu Wumbei of the RCN gave the main presentation on the topic, Knowledge Management (KM) in perspective: improving regional level KM through LAs. He took participates through various aspects of KM, the need to use KM and its associated benefits. Mr. Wumbei also shared a presentation onthe Learning Alliance Approach: improving regional level KM through LAs. Mr Wumbei stressed on the importance of learning as an integral component in the development of the region and the sector in general. He also advised that in order to ensure sustainability, smooth coordination and proper running of the platform, there was the need for an agreed framework on the host institution; core group and secretary/coordinator; frequency of meeting; documentation processes and funding modalities among others.
Participants were divided into three groups of six to brainstorm on the level of learning currently in the region, their short and long term visions for the platform and the way forward. The following are some outcomes of the group work.
In a group work to brainstorm on their shared vision and the way forward, participants identified their strengths as, i) the willingness of members to engage, ii) availability of communication channels for sharing information; iii) availability of varied technical expertise within the platform; and iv) availability of lots of information (experiences and lessons) for sharing. The weaknesses identified included, i)Lack of dedicated budget for platform activities; ii) organizational bureaucracies; iii) weak documentation culture; iv) inadequate technical and human resources for knowledge management; and v) lack of commitment to changing organizational attitudes and practices. On the way forward, participants agreed on the need to get a hosting organization, budget for learning; sensitize organizations on the need for sharing and learning, and set rules and regulations for running the platform.
The platform made some key decisions at the end, including the selection of ten (10) organizations to form the core group of the platform. It was also agreed that CWSA should be the host and coordinator of the core group/platform. The core group was charged with the responsibility organizing future platform meeting and sorting out the issue of funding among others. The selected institutions included, CWSA, Plan Ghana, Edsam Consult, School of Hygiene, Regional SHEP/GES, School of Public Health – University of Health and Allied Science, World Vision and the Triple-S project.
In his closing remarks, the Deputy Regional Director of CWSA, accepted the responsibility reposed on CWSA and pledged the willingness of his Director and institution to support the process. He thanked all participants and appealed to the core group to immediately get to work. The well attended first meeting was supported and facilitated by IRC Ghana participants, ranging from government institutions, agencies, academic institutions, none governmental organizations, project based organizations and private sector practitioners, were impressed with proceedings and the opportunity created for learning and sharing.