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Rapid Action Learning (RAL)

Regional Centre for Sanitation

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Three-day Regional Rapid Action Learning (RAL) Workshop

Concept Note

Three-day Regional Rapid Action Learning (RAL) Workshop to Share, Learn for Sustainable and Inclusive Sanitation under South Asian Regional Center for Sanitation for SACOSAN Countries


  1. SACOSANs as a process and a movement has influenced the South Asian countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to meet the sanitation challenge affecting the region. As member countries of South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) have adopted ground-breaking policies and implemented social mobilisation programmes to reach new heights in terms of narrowing the gaps on service levels of sanitation in the last two decades. In India, Swachh Bharat Mission being a mass campaign and in Nepal, ban on ‘Chhaupadi’ to change attitudes towards MHM and mobilised   political commitment. SACOSAN (South Asian Conference on Sanitation) is a government led biennial Convention held on a rotational basis in each SAARC country which provides a platform for interaction on sanitation.  SACOSANs are intended to develop a Regional Agenda on Sanitation, enabling learning from the past experiences and setting actions for the future. The SACOSAN process is instrumental in generating the political will for better sanitation in the Region.

Every two years, key government officials from SAARC countries meet together, alongside development partners, WASH networks, think tanks and civil society members, to evaluate progress made in achieving WASH related targets. The latest thinking on effective approaches is shared and discussed to support countries in their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) journey. This calls for a round of reflection, sharing, orientation, planning and identifying problems, challenges and successful and scalable practices.  For this methods of rapid sharing, learning, adopting and adapting these for local needs and conditions, are a crucial key in order to achieve and sustain an Open Defecation Free Status. An important decision process established under SACOSAN is the Ministerial Meeting held at the closing session of each SACOSAN and sign a joint declaration on the agreed commitments during the deliberations at the technical sessions.   Monitoring on the progress of commitment is the responsibility of the country focal persons represented in the Inter Country Working Group (ICWG). ICWG meets almost every year pre SACOSAN and post SACOSANs.  

  1. Regional Centre for Sanitation

Sri Lanka in fulfilling the commitments made at the SACOSAN VI, ministerial meeting established the Regional Centre for Sanitation to act as the secretariat for ICWG and  a knowledge  platform for promoting research, share experiences  and best practices among the SACOSAN member countries. In February 2019 RCS in collaboration with its regional partners and the governments successfully conducted a conference on sustainable solution for sanitation(3S). over 35 practitioners from the SACOSAN member countries representing governments, civil society, researchers and expertise. During Round Table Discussion held after the 3S conference with key stakeholders and partners of the RCS , on the Future Activities of the Regional Centre for Sanitation (RCS), on February 23, 2019 in Sri Lanka, it was proposed that RCS  would convene a Rapid Action Learning (RAL) Workshop where SACOSAN countries will be able  come together to identify the innovations and good practices to share and learn from each other in association with Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK. Planning the workshop would start 6 months ahead of time and the main focus of the event is formulated for Capacity building on LNOB. Save the date to be published on the RCS website and will be linked to other web sites of the region as well as partners. Countries in the region will be invited to select the participants and list shall be maintained by each country with justification for selection and background of the proposed candidates. RCS will call for express interest from the selected list with the aim of bringing key government officials from SAARC countries, alongside development partners, WASH networks, think tanks and civil society members to share, learn, and gain new insights, innovations and successful practices for sustainability of Open Defecation Free Status with quality and inclusion, and to plan future activities.


Aims and objectives of the workshops will be as follows

  • To share challenges and proposed strategies and to learn from experiences, positive and setbacks in the implementation of solutions. The knowledge platform will provide opportunities   for sharing insights, innovations and successes and best practices, including policies methods, processes and approaches developed in the region and elsewhere on declaring ODF-quality, inclusiveness and sustainability.
  • To make these accessible for adoption and/or adaptation as desired by other nations

  • To review practical lessons learnt and to integrate that learning into country specific action plans

  • To identify gaps in knowledge and priorities for action learning, and to enable each nation to decide on any follow up actions it may wish to undertake to review current approaches and progress


Those invited will include government officials from SACOSAN countries, development partners, WASH networks, think tanks and civil society members form south Asian countries.


Venue will be decided later (Tentative, Between September to November, 2019 in Colombo or Kathmandu)


Day 1: All the participants (case study submitted) will come together to document and share insights and successful and innovative approaches, policies and methods together with lessons learnt. These will be captured prior to the workshop through one-two page notes focusing on the context, the approach, successes, and challenges. Day 2: All participants will be given the opportunity to visit the field, and find out about issues, concern and what approaches have been used at village level in nearby surrounding villages, and then share their findings. Day 3: Nation-based or theme-based groups will then review practical ideas and lessons they have learnt and develop plans for national-level action and to improve and accelerate progress towards ODF with quality, equity, and sustainability.


  • Documentation of successful approaches in challenging conditions.
  • Regional sharing and learning across countries
  • Identification of gaps in practical knowledge requiring action learning and capacity development

Most important of all, this workshop should identify, document and share successful innovative practices from different countries at national and sub-national level.  The collation and rapid sharing of these should open up new opportunities for learning and innovation for (decision makers?) state heads, and others in terms of a range of experience-based options for action. This should accelerate progress towards Open Defecation Free countries and add to its quality and sustainability.


During the lead time to the workshop, it is crucial that each countries identifies what they have to share that which will be of regional interest and would be useful for sharing across the region. Thematic areas for Learning from innovations, insights, lessons learnt, and successful practices can be captured on attached template: Without limiting these, here are examples:

  • Capacity Building of LNOB
  • Climate and Environment – need to develop a regional monitoring mechanism on poverty/equity/Climate change and institutionalize building blocks for resilience
  • Capacity to mobilize resource from Global Green Fund for Climate.
  • Policy level innovations and strategies to ensure availability and sustainable management of sanitation
  • Institutional arrangements/structure
  • Planning, Monitoring, and Review
  • Expanded Capacity Building Initiatives
  • Strengthening of states, districts, villages in terms of human resources, skills, etc.
  • Decentralization and centralization of responsibilities
  • Structural innovations for disabled and elderly
  • Local IEC materials (apart from posters, health messages, etc.)
  • Adoption of practices that minimize water requirement and conservation
  • Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) and environment sustainability
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and hardware
  • Strategy to cover the last mile (elderly, women, disable, poorest of poor)
  • Changing mind-set and behaviour change of communities
  • Inclusion of women in the mission
  • Handwashing in communities and schools
  • Managing child faeces
  • Solid and Liquid Waste Resources Management
  • Inclusive WASH services in public areas

These are some of the illustrative thematic areas on which practical innovations, insights, lessons learnt and successful practices are sought so that they can be made accessible to others to adopt and adapt as they decide, however it is advisable to not limit into these areas. Logistics The event will be in Sri Lanka (Colombo, Nagaimo, Kandy)  or Kathmandu Nepal. Conference venue and conference package will be financed by the organizers and shared accommodation will be provided by the RCS partners. Accommodation will be available for 4 days to follow the proceedings of the conference. Participants once they are selected they need to make their own travel arrangements. RCS will facilitate Visa and local transport.



The RSC is to Promote Networking & Knowledge Managemnt for SACOSAN Movement Among SAARC Countries  


  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

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