Leaving No One Behind: Experiences from Water for Women

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Progressive realisation of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services requires effective mechanisms to support equity and inclusion to ensure access is acceptable, used and sustained over time. Leaving no one behind (LNOB) means considering and addressing multiple, intersecting forms of disadvantage and inequality, and addressing systemic causes, including for individuals and groups who are marginalised, excluded or actively discriminated against, or are experiencing inequities, inequalities or stigma.

While different support mechanisms have been tried globally over the past decades, there is increasing recognition that a transformative approach – one that addresses power and privilege and values belonging and participation – is needed to leave no one behind and realise the aspirations of the United Nations Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs).

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Scaling deep to drive transformation and leave no one behind in WASH

As part of a dedicated learning initiative under Water for Women’s Learning Agenda, insights on efforts to leave no one behind from its civil society organisation (CSO) implemented WASH projects in 15 Asia-Pacific countries were collected and synthesised. This report draws lessons from CSO self-assessments in 2021 on the approaches they pursue to ensure no one is left behind, using the United Nations Development Programme conceptualisation of three ‘mutually reinforcing levers’ of Examine, Empower and Enact.


This learning is shared through the two resources below.

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Leaving No One Behind:
Experiences from Water for Women

This report is a synthesis of insights from 16 WASH projects being delivered by partner civil society organisations (CSOs). The report draws lessons from and syntheses CSO self-assessments on the approaches they pursue to ensure no one is left behind, structured by:

Who CSOs identify as being left behind and why
How they approach enabling voice and meaningful participation
What practical leave no one behind (LNOB) initiatives they are pursuing.


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Leaving No One Behind:
Summary of Lessons from Water for Women

A summary of learning from the above resource including:

  • Lessons Learnt
  • The LNOB Challenge
  • Framing LNOB for WASH
  • Influencing LNOB approaches at scale


A Water for Women logo along with sub-brand logo for the Learning Agenda theme of this resource, Leaving No One Behind

Water for Women acknowledges Bronwyn Powell (International WaterCentre at Griffith University) and Gabrielle Halcrow (SNV Netherlands Development Organisation – SNV) for their leadership of this collaborative Learning Agenda initiative and the authorship of this report. We also gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the advisory group for this learning agenda initiative: Naomi Carrard (University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS-ISF)), Tshering Choden (SNV Bhutan), Aleisha Carroll (CBM Australia), Lana Woolf (Edge Effect) and Joanna Mott and Kate Orr (Water for Women Fund Coordinator).

The following partners made extensive contributions to this learning initiative: SNV, WaterAid, iDE, the Centre for Advocacy and Research, India (CFAR), Thrive Networks/East Meets West, RTI International, World Vision, Plan International, Live and Learn Environmental Education, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and UTS-ISF. We also recognise their leadership and support for progress towards leaving no one behind in WASH access across Asia and the Pacific. Thanks also to the additional Water for Women Fund Coordinator team members, Stuart Raetz and Bianca Nelson Vatnsdal, who supported this learning initiative.

This work was supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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