Guided Learning Approach (GLA)

Water, health and agricultural sector staff at community and municipal level from government agencies and NGOs are in an excellent position to help communities improve their livelihood and water and sanitation services. To support these actors to become better in providing assistance a special problem based learning approach was developed to establish possible risks and to identify solutions with the communities. This approach, initially developed for the water and sanitation sector, is called Guided Learning Approach (GLA), which also encompasses interventions in water resources management and landscape services.  

What is Guided Learning Approach?

  • Guided Learning Approach is a problem based team learning approach that initially has been developed in Ethiopia as a refresher course for staff from district water and sanitation organizations to improve the effectiveness of their support to local WASH committees with a focus on water, sanitation and landscape;
  • Due to its success in up-scaling the Guided Leaning Approach in many regions in Ethiopia, is now used to enable participants to help identify key problems in any given locality, and formulate suitable solutions together with stakeholders;
  • The Guided Learning Approach training packages include self-learning modules, short write-ups of generic problems and solutions, and short videos highlighting local conditions and approaches.
  • In this process, they receive external support from trainers and resource persons, for example from regional government offices or NGOs that visit them at their place of work;
  • The approach is action oriented and has helped WASH committees and community leaders in Ethiopia to improve their WASH and landscape conditions, often adopting creative solutions for their problems;

Objective of Guided Learning Approach

The guided self-learning approach is set out to help staff from different organizations to better support the delivery of sustainable water supply, sanitation and landscape services. It aims at building on and expanding their capacity in a very practical way of learning in teams in their place of work.


The Guided Learning Approach has several impacts on capacity building due to its practical methodological approach:

  • Local staffs have a more interactive role in the local community, because the aim is to help them become more systematic with assessments and action plans;
  • Doing this training at a community level, an immediate rate of return of the assessments and action plans can be obtained, because one can communicate with the community and ask what can be done without having to wait for government actions;
  • Many Water and Sanitation, and Landscape activities can be organized and actively done directly with the community, which creates effective development.

Through Guided Learning Approach training, communities will be capable to carry out many activities and directly solve problems without external support in terms of finance and materials. For example, a community can improve the drainage of a water point – any community can do that, or better cleaning of school latrines for which external support is not required. Communities mainly need to understand the means to and opportunity of solving problems. From this perspective, Guided Learning Approach helps a community to find external support, but most importantly it also encourages local action.

In Ethiopia, Guided Learning Approach has proven results in Water and Sanitation, and Landscape services – 3R (Recharge, Retention, Reuse) where the communities have initiated local actions.

Guided Learning Approach uses a modular set-up, which can easily be tailored to any local context. The approach of each course includes the following:

  • Different learning, modules each comprising an introduction to a specific topic, key questions and answers to test the learning skills, plus short assignments to be implemented at or close to the place of work. Topics range from water supply, water resource management, financing to facilitation approaches.
  • Specific problem assessment modules to develop an overview of priority problems together with stakeholders.
  • Specific modules to identify and formulate solutions to the identified problems together with stakeholders.

The courses follow an innovative approach of guided self-learning, where participants can access training modules, resource materials, resource persons, in different ways. The access may be through a paper-based approach, CD, or the Internet. Participants will learn in their work environment and have face-to-face contact with fellow participants, course moderators and resource persons.

MetaMeta Services

MetaMeta tailors the training packages according to specific local situations; trains local trainers; and provides post-training and up-scaling support.

  • We also offer tailored training packages suited to various countries or given organizations, training of trainers, and consultancy services. At present, three course packages are available on: (1) water and sanitation assessments – GLoWS; and (2) Landscapes – 3R (3) Soil fertility for all.
  • MetaMeta provides research and consultancy services in water governance, and offers specialized communication products geared to the international resource management and development sectors.


Courses are meant for staff from public and private organizations that support community based interventions related to water supply and water resources, sanitation, natural resource management and environmental management. Typically, participants will learn in small teams at their place of work under the guidance of trainers and resource persons.


Interested in GLA and would you want more information on the courses, the roll-out and or other opportunities, contact MetaMeta at:
T    +31 (0) 317 843939

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