About Us

Our Mission

By 2030, we want to ensure that strong water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems are in place everywhere, and that future populations have access to WASH services forever.

Who we are

Established in May 2015, Agenda for Change is a collaboration of like-minded organizations (“Members”) that have adopted a set of common principles and approaches. We work collectively to advocate for, and support national and local governments in, strengthening the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems required to deliver universal, sustained access as outlined under Sustainable Development Goal 6.

Our main activities include supporting, amplifying, and promoting WASH systems strengthening across our membership.

We support Member’s collaborative systems strengthening efforts across various countries;

We amplify evidence of Member’s WASH systems strengthening activities at national and local levels;

We promote learning amongst Members, through lesson sharing across the collaboration, and with external systems actors.

The Global Hub

Agenda for Change has a Global Hub comprising a Steering Committee, Executive Committee, Membership Committee, Secretariat, and Working Groups (see Figure). These constituent parts govern, operate, and provide support for the collaboration.

The Global Secretariat consists of a Global Coordinator and a Content Strategist, both staff hired by the hosting member, IRC. The three standing Working Groups (Advocacy, Knowledge Management and Communications, and Technical Advisory) are comprised of representatives from Agenda for Change members.

Our Approach

By working together,
we can achieve a greater impact.

Our members promote harmonized district-level work to ensure everyone in the districts, municipalities, or cities where they work has adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene services. They also ensure that national-level systems are in place to enable all districts to reach everyone, and that systems are in place forever.

Aguaconsult is committed to improving WASH services across the world and recognises that sustainable and effective service delivery can only happen when systemic weaknesses are addressed. Aguaconsult has experience of working with a wide spectrum of sector actors including governments, donors, utilities and NGOs to strengthen permanent institutions that are responsible for service delivery. Examples range from working with the government of Vietnam on national maintenance strategies for piped water to leading an organisational review of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency in Ghana, to developing instruments to support district-level planning in Rwanda, Uganda and Nepal.

CARE works to strengthen the leadership and capacity of governments, at national and sub-national levels, to ensure water and sanitation services for all.  CARE recognizes the vital role of the government, communities and the private sector in providing sustainable services. Their work includes supporting government agencies to develop partnerships with the private sector, co-collecting data and improving quality to inform government, advocating for government-run water and sanitation offices, integrating gender and equity into WASH approaches and working closely with government to institutionalize and operationalize policies.

The Center for Water Security and Cooperation (CWSC) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is building the foundation for systems strengthening in water and sanitation law and policy at both national and local levels. CWSC critically examines water laws including legislation, regulations, policies, plans, strategies and court decisions across essential nexuses (agriculture, drinking water, health and hygiene, national security, peace and conflict, and others) to comprehensively understand how laws govern and impact water security. CWSC also facilitates evidence-based law and policy drafting, revision, implementation, enforcement, monitoring, and review.

In 2016, Concern Worldwide’s WASH Programme adopted a Service Delivery Approach which takes a demand-led approach and is concerned with system strengthening. One such experience in WASH systems strengthening took place in the DRC. The DRC WASH Consortium, which ran from 2013-2019, was a £30 million GBP project, with Concern Worldwide as the lead agency. The WASH Consortium developed an innovative economic approach based on the life-cycle cost analysis tool. Business plans were developed for sustaining the short, medium and long-term functioning of the new water services established and to set up revenue streams to cover these costs. Concern is also working on various methods of WASH systems strengthening in a number of other fragile contexts.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) deploys a systems lens to contribute to achievement of universal water security, including analyzing watershed and landscape health; engaging, planning, and responding through national and sub-national policies, actors, and partners; and, by strengthening existing public and private systems. CRS advocates for improved regulations and policies, and supports networks (e.g., civil society, the private sector, and government) to enhance the results they achieve. CRS’ water security programs engage various government ministries with responsibilities in water and other cross-cutting areas (health, gender, education, environment, agriculture, and others), as well as national civil institutions working in water governance.

Helvetas is progressing systemic change in small-scale agriculture to achieve large scale impacts and improve the livelihoods of farmers and vulnerable populations, notably through integration of water into market systems using inclusive approaches. Helvetas facilitates collective action across stakeholders in the public and private sectors; explores linkages between interventions at the farm level up to the national level; and, strengthens the capacity of stakeholders to support local ownership and accelerate replication of best practices within and across countries.

IRC is an international think-and-do-tank building strong WASH systems. Their goal is to challenge and shape the established practices of the WASH sector to ensure that services are available for everyone, for good. They work with governments, service providers, and international organisations to deliver systems and services that are truly built to last, and they do this at three levels: in districts, nationally and globally. They will judge themselves based on the progress they have made in achieving SDG Global Goal 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all – by 2030.

The Osprey Foundation supports water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives that deliver effective, sustainable, and scalable services in underserved communities. Osprey focuses on strengthening the local systems for delivering sustained WASH services through integrated, multi-pronged programs. Osprey also takes risks on innovative models with the potential to create game-changing improvements in WASH service delivery. Complementing these efforts, Osprey advocates for change within the WASH sector through collaboration with other funders and by challenging the sector to adopt approaches with the potential for greater impact.

Splash is taking a systems strengthening approach through Project WISE (WASH-in-Schools for Everyone), a five-year initiative to improve WASH infrastructure, change WASH behaviors, and improve menstrual health services across 100% of government schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Kolkata, India. Project WISE targets all actors in the school WASH ecosystem (from government stakeholders and funders, to school principals, teachers, and janitors, to students themselves). The initiative engages key stakeholders through formal collaboration frameworks and includes other critical elements such as life cycle costing, building robust local supply chains, and working with schools and government to ensure sufficient funding is available for long-term operations and maintenance.

At WaterAid, systems strengthening means understanding that WASH services contain many component parts that function within different socio-economic, political and environmental contexts. An example of this work is the SusWASH Programme – a five-year multi-country initiative focused on strengthening government leadership and accountability for WASH in Kampala, Uganda. They are also strengthening national and sub-national government-owned WASH monitoring information systems to help inform WASH investment, planning and decision-making, as well as supporting national governments and local level entities to cost and budget for the full costs of sustained, universal access.

Water for Good focuses on strengthening the building blocks for sustainable water services and increasing access to reliable, basic water services by focusing investment and integration of services with regional government systems in one district of the Central African Republic: the Mambéré-Kadéi Prefecture. Water for Good is building a collective roadmap that focuses on the development of contextually appropriate maintenance services that water users demand, consistent with UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.1. The outcomes of their strategy in the prefecture will provide a model for the expansion of services to other prefectures by 2030.

At Water For People, Everyone Forever means water and sanitation that lasts – for every family, clinic, and school. It sounds simple, but it’s a big shift in the status quo. They work to change the whole system that delivers basic water and sanitation services to everyone in a district. Everyone Forever means they focus on things like protecting water supplies, training mechanics, and establishing supply chains for parts. It means they think about long-term projects like advocating for national water policies and creating local water and sanitation utilities. They stay in partnership until they are confident that water will flow long after they leave a district.

WaterSHED empowers local businesses, government, and other leaders to expand and maintain an inclusive WASH market in Cambodia. WaterSHED’s market-based sanitation program accelerated rural sanitation to more than 60% coverage in six years through building of stronger, local systems alongside leaders. WaterSHED believes that systems strengthening does not require an NGO to grow (in budget, size, or footprint); therefore, WaterSHED’s 2018-2020 Strategy is focused on exploring opportunities to expand impact that will stem from partnership, replication, and integration with organizations positioned to leverage their experience, rather than expansion of the organization.

In 2017, Welthungerhilfe in partnership with Aguaconsult, the German Toilet Organization and Viva Con Agua, launched the Sustainable Services Initiative, an internal initiative to improve the sustainability of Welthungerhilfe’s WASH programmes, primarily through encouraging the uptake of a systems strengthening approach and to advocate in the sector and partner countries for a more sustainable approach to WASH programming. Through systems-strengthening programmes in Uganda, Nepal, Ethiopia, Malawi and Kenya, currently more than 1 million people benefit from the improved WASH governance on district level.

Joint Principles

The agreement of a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030 requires a fundamental change in the way we work.

Delivering positive change in sector performance necessitates a system-wide approach that tackles all dimensions—policy, financing, institutions and other key building blocks—of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector as whole. This will require a reformed agenda, based on a sound understanding of the political economy, at three levels of decision-making: global, national, and local.

Recognizing that we will achieve more by working together, we have agreed that the principles below will guide our approach to ensure permanent water and sanitation services for all.

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