Using CLA to Revisit Past Failures and Adapt Future Approaches for Greater Impact

Through the USAID-funded Nobo Jatra (New Beginning) project, World Vision Bangladesh uses CLA to revisit past failures to improve and adapt future approaches. Despite a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, Nobo Jatra (NJ) typically scaled and replicated only successful solutions from both within the project and externally. In doing so, there was a missed opportunity to apply a learning, reflection, and adaption culture to revisit potentially higher impact approaches. While staff were open to applying CLA in their work, there was limited understanding of the benefits of applying CLA to learn from failures at an overall project level. Recognizing the opportunity to improve impact, NJ took a systemic approach to use CLA to learn from previous failures and revisit initiatives that had a higher promise of effectiveness, scale, and efficiency but which required more learning and adaptation to make them work. To do so, NJ revisited an approach for safe drinking water through Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants with the intention to identify what could be done differently to increase the chance of success. Having the opportunity to apply the learnings in the design of new activities was an impetus for teams to embrace the concept of learning from failures. This CLA approach required support not just from senior leadership but from multiple teams and communities themselves to leverage past experiences, apply lessons learned, and identify critical areas that could be done differently. Through implementation of the CLA approach since 2019, NJ has installed 10 Reverse Osmosis plants that are providing safe drinking water all year round to approximately 18,000 people each month. With strong operation and maintenance structures and payment systems for water, the Reverse Osmosis plants have continued to function during the COVID-19 crisis and in the aftermath of cyclones, which is an indicator of the sustainability of the systems.