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Short-term learning for long-term impact: lessons on project design from Malawi

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conference contribution
posted on 2018-02-12, 15:10 authored by Kristina Nilsson, Benson B. Nkhoma
The complex work of sustainable development is one that benefits from applying “lessons learned” from previous experience in similar contexts. The paradox of requiring quick learning about long-term impacts can be partially resolved by co-interpretation with project partners on how a project’s impacts are expected to proceed over time, and how the project has helped and hindered sustained service delivery. In 2013, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) used this idea to study the anticipated impacts of a past AfDB supported project in Malawi’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, to inform the design of a new project to be supported by AfDB. This paper describes this innovative approach to impact assessment, as well as key lessons from this study, on using decentralised structures, investing in capacity building, and building sustaining community level institutions.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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NILSSON, K. and NKHOMA, B.B., 2014. Short-term learning for long-term impact: lessons on project design from Malawi. IN: Shaw, R.J., Anh, N.V. and Dang, T.H. (eds). Sustainable water and sanitation services for all in a fast changing world: Proceedings of the 37th WEDC International Conference, Hanoi, Vietnam, 15-19 September 2014, 6pp.


© WEDC, Loughborough University


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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