Learning and Practice Alliances (LPAs)

Research projects too often do not result in policy change, because they do not take into account the complex realities of a country or fail to include the main stakeholders in the process of research.

RiPPLE has sought to address these challenges from the start by establishing Learning and Practice Alliances (LPAs) - one in each region and woreda where RiPPLE is working, and one at national level (FLoWS). Efforts have also been made to encourage the establishment of a regional Nile Basin LPA.

The LPAs are central to RiPPLE's approach. They continuously drive the research agenda in each region and woreda in line with local priorities, and are actively involved in developing and testing new approaches to water and sanitation provision. Capacity building activities are offered to support LPA participants, and participants act as capacity building agents as they share experiences with each other, within their organizations and networks they participate in.

What is an LPA?

An LPA is a group of stakeholders from organisations working in the country, region or woreda in question, who meet periodically to share experiences on issues of joint interest. The organisations represented may be governmental, civil society or private sector, and may work in implementation, policy or research.

Each LPA has a professional, full-time coordinator who is responsible for engaging stakeholders and driving the LPA process, with support from the RiPPLE office. In addition to regular meetings, LPA members are encouraged to interact on an ongoing basis. They are supported by the coordinators in developing new ways to work together.

What is the role of the LPAs in RiPPLE?

How LPAs evolve

In an LPA, the regional stakeholders themselves determine the agenda for research and pave the way for change, with support from RiPPLE researchers. This will ensure that research is relevant and useful. Effective change requires genuine participation at all levels.

Why have LPAs at woreda, regional and national level?

LPAs at different levels focus on the key priorities and issues at that level. For example, implementation and use of water and sanitation services mainly takes place at woreda level, while the national level is more concerned with overall sector strategy and macro-level relationships between access to services, poverty reduction, economic growth and progress towards development targets such as the MDGs or Universal Access Plan.

It is critical to bring together the experiences and achievements of LPAs at different levels in order to maximise learning and effect real change in the sector. The issues facing the different levels cannot be viewed in isolation. The LPAs will be in regular communication to share the outcomes of their learning and change processes, and to explore options for scaling up successful approaches. In fact they may be best viewed as multiple branches of a single LPA.

The establishment of effective LPAs is a complex challenge, but their potential impact is great, and it is hoped that the linkages developed will persist beyond the project lifetime of RiPPLE

Page last updated 3 Sep 2009