By Patrick Moriarty
Back in June and July of 2012, Triple-S underwent a mid-term assessment (MTA) by an excellent team led by Dr. Ben Ramalingam. The MTA was a hugely useful exercise, allowing the Triple-S team and our partners to take some time out from our day to day work to reflect on how we were doing. The MTA team held up a mirror to us as a project and process – in much the same way that Triple-S seeks to hold up a mirror to the rural water sector – allowing us to have a long hard look at ourselves.
We saw much that we liked. Real progress in getting the issue of sustainability, service delivery and learning on the national agendas in Ghana and Uganda, as well as internationally. Appreciation and respect for what the initiative is doing from friends and partners. At the same time, of course, it showed us things that challenged us. A tendency to stay focussed on the problem (of poor service delivery), and a lack of clarity as to suggested solutions. Similarly messaging that was at times simplistic and that did not differentiate sufficiently between audiences who were already fellow travellers on the journey to sustainable service delivery – and those who were only just starting or still needed to be convinced.
In the months following the MTA process and formal delivery of the report last November, the Triple-S team has been involved in an intensive process of recalibration and replanning – to build on what we liked, and to try to improve what we liked less. A first version of this recalibration is set out in this document which was finalised in January. At the centre of it is a pivoting of attention towards modelling solutions – in the form of a set of experiments that span the range from working out how mobile data can lead to improved technical support through entirely new structures for providing support to service providers to improved sector guidelines and policy. We are also focussing strongly on our overall approach to catalysing and supporting whole system change – working on systematising and deepening our understanding of how a whole sector can be supported to work in different and more effective ways. The thinking behind this is set out in our recently published theory of change document.
Making these documents public, particularly the MTA report and replanning document is long overdue, however we hope that they will be still be of interest. We are always delighted to get feedback – either publicly in the comments pages or privately. We’d also like to take the opportunity to thank once more the MTA team themselves, as well as sector colleagues and friends who took the time to share their opinions during the MTA and to contribute to the subsequent recalibration work.
In May during our annual review meeting we will be putting the spotlight on our experiments – and will share updates of progress and challenges.