Perhaps one of the more ignored or misunderstood elements of water poverty by the general population and even the charitable sector is sanitation services. When you think about providing clean water, you conjure images of clear drinking water pouring out of a tap or buckets of well water used to water crops and serve livestock.
But then there’s the other stuff—the stuff that is not as pretty to think about or even to deal with, but is just as important—like unclogging toilets, and building latrines, and providing sanitary napkin containers and services for female students. That’s all sanitation.
The first Unclogging the Blockages conference organised by IRC, PSI, Water for People and WSUP Enterprises, took place on February 18-20, 2014 in Kampala, Uganda. More than 170 people from in and out of the sector and around the world came together to explore the various challenges for sanitation as a business (SAAB) and began working on short and long-term solutions.
Participants identified seven key components to SAAB: (1) public sector; (2) business models; (3) finance; (4) technology; (5) demand creation and behaviour change; (6) monitoring; and (7) intersectoral links.
For each component participants plotted out potential outcomes and ways forward based on their ideas and a 30-day challenge, for example:
• Blockage: lack of models that are pro-poor inclusive; lack of understanding of technology
• Desired outcome: Consumer understanding/happiness: Families say, “The toilet is my favorite part of the house.”
• 30-Day Challenge: Know your customers deeply for better service and success. —Advocacy through creative formats, get to the point and make it attractive, prove we have results.
The full set of action plans with a detailed breakdown by tasks and groups responsible for each of the seven themes is in the Unclogging the Blockages report. The Conference report and an accompanying factsheet are available at: www.ircwash.org/resources/unclogging-blockages-sanitation-business
A full set of conference materials including Powerpoint presentations can be found on the SuSanA website at: www.susana.org/en/events/past-event-pages/details/8
Three articles published in the July 2014 edition of Waterlines emerged from the conference:
Mulumba, J.N., Nothomb, C., Potter, A. and Snel, M. 2014. Striking the balance : what is the role of the public sector in sanitation as a service and as a business? Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 195-210. DOI: 10.3362/2046-1887.2014.021
Rojas Williams, S.M. and Sauer, J. 2014. Unclogging the blockages in sanitation : inter-sector linkages. Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 211-219. DOI: 10.3362/2046-1887.2014.022
Sugden, S., 2014. Latrine design: go in peace. Waterlines, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 220-239. DOI: 10.3362/1756-3488.2014.023