Social-ecological system resilience for WASH

Practical Action Publishing
Publication Type:
Systems Thinking and WASH: Tools and Case Studies for a Sustainable Water Supply, 2019, pp. 79 - 91
Issue Date:
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In a rapidly changing world, WASH services are often exposed to a range of unpredictable social, environmental, economic, and physical disturbances that disrupt WASH access. Social-ecological system (SES) resilience thinking can inform WASH service delivery approaches that adapt to changing conditions in order to sustain access for users rather than resist change. In this chapter, we familiarize readers with SES resilience thinking and consider its application to WASH services. We outline three key processes that practitioners can follow to get themselves and other stakeholders into an SES resilience mindset: mapping WASH systems, considering SES resilience principles, and identifying areas for interventions. We provide illustrative examples and resources to assist practitioners in thinking about how SES resilience concepts can be used to plan for WASH services that are flexible and adaptive. We also consider some limitations and pitfalls to SES resilience concepts to encourage readers to take a critical approach.
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