Giving Compass’ Take:
• WASH innovators need to embrace the potential of failure to learn more about what is working and what is not within the sector.
• How can donors encourage risk-taking in the WASH sector? What are the constraints on innovators in terms of information-sharing?
• Read about these elements for gender transformative WASH programming.
One of the challenges facing innovators is the fear of failure. Ironically, failure is the best launchpad for encouraging innovation — and we need a change of vocabulary to reflect this. Talking about the “pivots made” and “lessons learned,” even though a project might not achieve its aims, allows us to learn from others when they do well, and even when they don’t. This helps to ensure that we do not repeat our failures, or waste time re-learning the same lessons.
To reach a point where we can freely share lessons learned and accept that innovation can fail, we need a change in mindset, and in our cultural attitude.
Peter Harvey from UNICEF stressed that, although a learning culture is one that accepts failure, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) practitioners and innovators can often be driven and constrained by donors. The WASH sector itself can be risk-averse and restrict itself in this respect. One way to curb this constraint is by explicit inclusion of and elements of risk and learning from failure in funding proposals.
Resources such as this report on WASH in urban flood emergencies, produced through the Global WASH Cluster Technical Learning Project, are a great way to share lessons learned and direct would-be WASH innovators to the kind of considerations necessary when implementing emergency WASH.
Read the full article about innovation through failure by Mambwe Chella at WASHfunders.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Natural Resources, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Natural Resources.
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