Lab for Change, a unique experience for Water Links

From November 4th to the 8th, the actors that make up Water Links, particularly its implementation in Guanajuato, took part in “Lab for Change, Water Links special edition”, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. At this unique meeting, we exchanged experiences together with the partners of another eight One Drop projects that are being developed in Asia, Africa and America, as well as with representatives of implementing bodies, donors, organizations of the WASH sector and government entities.

For five days, more than 100 participants from 17 countries exchanged key learnings to generate new knowledge, under the slogan “Exchange. Go beyond. Change the Story”. A diversity of approaches, languages, cultures, initiatives and expectations came together in one place with a common goal: contributing to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Water Links, an unprecedented meeting

For the first time, we met at the same time with all of the representatives of ConvidArte, Nicaragua Rural, Proyecto Guanajuato, Proyecto Quiché and Y Kuaa, the founding partners of the program (One Drop, the Inter-American Development Bank, The Coca-Cola Foundation and ourselves), artists and local changemakers, and other key actors of the program in Guanajuato. Together we experimented and contributed to each of the sessions at Lab for Change. Such is the case of the Water Comission of the State of Guanajuato (CEAG, by its acronym in Spanish), strategic and implementing partner of the A component in the framework of the project Water Links in Guanajuato, and of the National Water Comission (CONAGUA, by its acronym in Spanish), with whom Water Links signed a collaboration agreement to increase the sustainable coverage of water and sanitation services in Mexico, through integrating the Social Art for Behavior Change component.

During the week, particularly in the first day which was dedicated to Water Links, the teams that make up the program consolidated knowledge, developed closer relationships and discovered possibilities towards making the results of the interventions more sustainable. Besides getting to know the state of each project at that specific point in time, the participants worked in the midterm evaluation of the program, strengthening the Capital component, developing the digital agenda L@zos, and the general vision of the working plans for 2020.

The contribution of the Water Links partners expanded to different sessions of Lab for Change. For instance, Sergio Campos, Head of the Water and Sanitation Division at IDB, led the first session on Tuesday November 5th, the day on which the representatives of eight additional projects joined the event along with other entities. His presentation showed the progress on SDG 6 thus far and the importance of collaborating across different sectors in WASH projects, cooperation which is evident in the diversity of the founding partners of Water Links: private company, a multilateral development bank and a foundation.

International lab

Through more than 30 interactive sessions, the participants exchanged on key topics related to the WAS sector and One Drop’s SABC approach. A thing that was made evident at the sessions was the ties of interdependence between availability and access to WASH services and different SDGs such as poverty reduction, food security, good health and well-being, gendered equality and reduced inequalities

The work sessions covered several topics, such as the need to work together with governments and the private sector; the importance of mobilizing capital and providing adequate funding to users and the water and sanitation supply line; the foundations of successful work with indigenous communities; social norms and menstrual hygiene; providing WASH services at health centers; the creation of nudges; the complementarity of the SABC and SANTOLIC (Total Sanitation Led by the Community) approaches to overcome open defecation practices; changemakers and their potential for scaling interventions; the use of digital technologies to increase the impact of projects; and the essential role of creating and communicating stories to generate and sustain changes, as well as to share experiences and achievements with different audiences.

Social Art for Behaviour Change SABC is a brand of  ONE DROP Foundation.