Agenda for Change members working on systems approaches

Please note this is a summary of information. You can learn more on the CWSC and WaterAid websites.

The Center for Water Security and Cooperation’s (CWSC) RENEWAL initiative aims to accelerate the achievement of water security in Africa by creating the first pan-African water rights platform. Nigeria is one of the five countries targeted by the RENEWAL project. 

WaterAid’s Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, inclusion, and sustainability of total sanitation approaches for the poor and underserved in Nigeria. The program was implemented in three states in Nigeria – Ekiti, Enugu and Jigawa – from 2013-2018.

Systems strengthening activities

Through the RENEWAL (Research and Evaluation of Nexuses of the Exploitation of Water in African Law) initiative, CWSC is creating the first pan-African water law platform to empower countries to achieve the SDGs, sustainably manage their water resources, and provide safe and affordable water and sanitation services to all people. The platform will provide a catalog of all water laws through 10 critical links from the national to local level, with the aims of analyzing the laws to understand how they act to protect and manage water resources, and defining the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the laws to develop ways to improve them and/or bring them together. 

WaterAid’s STS project had four components: implementation, action learning, formal research, and advocacy. STS aimed to develop a model which combined the demand driven, participatory philosophy of CLTS with Sanitation Marketing (SanMark), an approach focusing on creating an effective supply of quality, affordable toilets which meet the needs of local communities. This model was further supported by action learning and advocacy interventions to help review and communicate challenges and successes. The final element of STS was a program of formal research to inform future programs in Nigeria and in other countries facing similar issues, and included an impact evaluation over four years (2014-2018) by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Other partners
Entities of the Central Government

National governments

Local Governments

Local governments

All others

Institute for Fiscal Studies, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Systems strengthening activities


  • With innovative and internationally tested programme delivery approaches, WaterAid Nigeria has developed a strategic interface between the demand and supply side of equitable and sustainable WASH services in Nigeria.
  • In the last few years, WaterAid Nigeria has built extensive relationships with governments at all levels. This has contributed to its policy advocacy and influencing capacity. WaterAid Nigeria has been able to navigate the complex contours of Nigeria’s federal structure and provide different strands of interventions at the national, state, and local government levels.


  • The challenge of coordination exists not only between the tiers of government but also within each layer of government. Many governance units have disparate structures and agencies responsible for water supply and sanitation, which has affected policy making, and thus significantly impacted Nigeria’s performance in the delivery of WASH services.
  • In many cases, public services such as basic education, health, sanitation and hygiene, which directly benefit the poor, are given lower priority than capital intensive programmes. As a result, lower income groups lose access to crucial services.

How strong are the systems?

To determine how well systems are working, we rely on data derived from Building Blocks, which are manageable ‘sub-systems’ that can be supported and strengthened. Certain building blocks may be more strongly developed or applied at district or national level. Interactions between building blocks are essential.

National level

Building Block




Institutional Arrangements & Coordination

Service Delivery Infrastructure




Regulation & Accountability

Water Resource Management

Learning & Adaptation

  • Not implemented
  • No data yet
  • Poor results
  • Fair results
  • Good results


Systems Library

Please note this is a summary of available resources. You can learn more on the CWSC and WaterAid websites.

Strengthening Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Systems: Concepts, Examples, and Experiences

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Strengthening Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Systems: Concepts, Examples, and Experiences

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Applying WASH systems approaches in fragile contexts

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Nigeria WASH and Nutrition Report 2016

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WaterAid Nigeria Country Strategy Paper 2016-2021

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Rethinking approaches to sanitation in Nigeria: Learnings from the Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria Project

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WaterAid Sustainable Total Sanitation Final Evaluation

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USAID Water for the World Nigeria Country Plan

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Nigeria Collaborative Behaviour Country Profile 2020
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