Author Archives: dijoh2o

Over 4,000 hand washing SMS pledges from two districts in Uganda

Over 4,000 pledges were generated from local people in Sembabule and  Mityana districts In Uganda  within a period of a week after 15 October  who texted the word ‘PLEDGE’’ to 8181. With that they showed their commitment to wash their hands with soap. In reply, a message was sent back to them educating them about the importance of washing hands as one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of child deaths

Text to Change provided a platform for this, partnering with USAID through STRIDES for Family Health and Unilever Uganda to promote healthy communities through a Global Hand Washing Day celebration on 15 October 2011. Amsterdam-based TTC is a nonprofit organization that uses sophisticated mobile phone technology to send out and receive information on health and other vital issues in developing countries.

During the Uganda event, the community was taught the importance of hand washing through demonstrations by the health workers. Dr Paul Kagwa, a Commissioner at the Ministry of Health was the chief guest who also demonstrated the full process of effectively washing hands with soap.

Source: Text to Change, 19 Oct 2011

Rwanda in the fast lane, sanitation field visit confirms

Around 30 percent of the national budget of Rwanda is made available to district authorities. This high share makes Rwanda a front-runner in Africa, Stephan Klingebiel and Timo Mahn, two German banking specialists write in the June 2011 edition of Development and Cooperation, Vol. 38.2011:6. In only a few years, the country has considerably improved its public financial management. And the reform impetus started in the country itself. Donors helped to mobilise reform forces, but no one questions Rwanda’s leading role.

A similar drive can be reported on sanitation. ‘From the ruins of years of war and genocide, Rwanda has moved to improve household access to hygienic sanitation  facilities faster than in any country in Sub-Saharan Africa””, writes Nitin Jain in the July 2011 Getting Africa to meet the sanitation MDG: Lessons from Rwanda.

And from my four days in Rwanda during the AfricaSan3 Conference I can confirm this reality. I had talks with a national planner who finances district level Training of Trainers on Sanitation and Hygiene, district level officials who were trained and Community Mobilisers who trained village level Community Health Workers. I also visited and talked to the Community Hygiene Club in Rwanagala umudugudu (village) in Kazence cell, in sector Ntamara, in district Bugesera, Eastern Province, some 30 kilometres out of the capital Kigali.

Handwashing facility at road toilet, Photo IRC/Dick de Jong


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New toilet designs sought in Sanitation Challenge Contest

Indian Space scientists have put machines on the moon, yet 1 in every 2 Indians does not have access to toilets. Everyday 638 million people or about 50% of the population in India resort to open defecation.

There has been progress, from the “Central Rural Sanitation Programme”, which was initiated in 1988 by the Government of India, to the “Total Sanitation Campaign” launched in the year 1999. However, according to the 2010 report by UNICEF, on progress in sanitation coverage, even in 2008, 69% of rural Indian population did not have access to toilets.

All private and public sanitation drives suffer from some common problems.
1. The quality of constructed toilets is very poor due to budgetary or time
2. Toilet designs are often not appropriate for the targeted ecological terrain.
3. A lack of clearly defined “standards” for toilet design are leading to toilets that
pollute the environment.
4. Stakeholders do not have adequate awareness and knowledge of sustainable
sanitation models.

The FINISH ‘Sanitation Challenge Contest’ is a serious attempt to find solutions to these sanitation problems. FINISH, which stands for Financial INclusion Improves Sanitation and Health, with the help of – a collaborative innovation platform provider and other network partners – WASTE, FIN Trust, Ethos India and the World Toilet Organisation have launched an innovation competition to generate new designs in sanitation systems. Continue reading

How a new toilet programme sets off in Moretele Local Municpality

Jan Habig is an independent civil engineer in South Africa. He is showing a group of civil society people from Southern African countries around in a new sanitation programme involving 1,000 toilets in Moretele Local Municpality in North West Province, a 90-minute drive out of Pretoria.

Mr. Habig is here as project manager for G.R. Makopo CC Construction that won a contract for the Cyferskuils Basic Sanitation Phase 2 project, involving 1,000 Amalooloo toilets. The company falls under the Upcoming Black Economic Empowerment companies programme to increase income from 250,000 Rand to the next level.

Mr. Habig advises the company on tender documents and cash flow programmes and checks the quality of work. He also has international health and safety accreditation. In an interview on the site with IRC’.s Dick de Jong he explained how decentralization of this sanitation programme works.

How is this programme funded?

“This programme is funded from the central Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) that comes through local municipalities. This comes with conditions. One third of the construction of the toilets has to be given to local contractors. It is part of a bigger programme of 4,000 new toilets in this area.”

How does this work out here?

“There are three local contractors involved with 10 teams of two women and four men each. They are paid 130 Rand [13 Euro] each per structure. On average a team does 2 ½ structure per day. There is 88,000 Rand in the budget for training of which 30,000 was used to train 20 local people for five days in brick laying. Other trainings that are still to come:

  • orientation training for 10 Community Liaison Officers;
  • orientation course for a Project Steering Committee that has been appointed, but is not yet operational;
  • a basic street-by-street short hygiene course for households that includes explanations how to operate and maintain the toilets, including not throwing rubbish in the toilet, not using newspapers and showing how the raking of the feces goes when the pit is full.”

Not as dry as claimed

“The Amalooloo toilets we heard about and saw at the Betram company and at the new project site in the field are not as dry as claimed by the company. In the field we also saw that the construction of the upper part of toilet was not water tight and missed grips for the disabled. As we are also getting these toilets in Zambia I hope that you keep us informed about these problems on the ground”, Mr. Elisha N’gonomo, Director of a large civil society organization Village Water in Zambia, asked the South African participants on the last day of their Civil Society Learning Journey and Capacity Building Workshop in Roodeplaat, Pretoria, South Africa.

See the full story and pictures.

CSOs from Southern Africa exchange sanitation knowledge in practice

“The Amalooloo toilets we heard about and saw at the Betram company and at the new project site in the field are not as dry as claimed by the company. In the field we also saw that the construction of the toilet was not water tight and missed grips for the disabled. As we are also getting these toilets in Zambia I hope that you keep us informed about these problems on the ground”, Elisha N’gonomo, Director of a large civil society organization Village Water in Zambia, asked the South African participants on the last day of their Civil Society Learning Journey and Capacity Building Workshop in Roodeplaat, Pretoria, South Africa.

This is one of the immediate follow ups coming out of documenting workshop case studies and field visits in practice through written articles, photo stories, and short video clips.

The Water Information Network South Africa (WIN-SA) co-organized the workshop at the Roode Plaat training centre of the Department of Water Affairs, 25 minutes out of Pretoria, from 17 to 21 May 2010. It brought together 20 directors and project managers from SADC civil society organizations from Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and from various provinces in South Africa.

The focus was on sharing experiences, and developing a stronger network of civil society organizations working on water, sanitation and hygiene services in the SADC region.

The second focus was on developing simple advocacy, communication and marketing efforts that CSOs must undertake, based on the field evidence from their projects, to influence different stakeholders to be more responsive to the poorer section of their societies.

IRC’s Dick de Jong helped facilitate three days of practical work on communicating key messages and story telling through artiicles, photo stories and Flip video films.

See for more: IRC African pages.

Southern African network for sustainable sanitation launched

The Ecological Sanitation Research group (EcoSanRes) at Stockholm Environment Institute has launched its first Knowledge Node on Sustainable Sanitation for southern Africa during the second Africa Water Week. It is one of the ten planned regional nodes, the next one will be launched next week in Uganda.

“Our aim is to train groups in sustainable sanitation and develop local capacity to respond to demand for information and training in the region, says Madeleine Fogde, EcoSanRes Capacity Development Manager.” Other knowledge nodes will be established in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Water Research Commission (WRC)  is managing the the secretariat of the Southern African knowledge node. The Water Information Network South Africa (WIN-SA)  is implementing it.

The Southern African Node will create a knowledge management hub for sustainable sanitation. The hub will facilitate and coordinate capacity and skills development, knowledge sharing and collaboration. It will furthermore assist individuals and organisations from different disciplines within the SADC to:

o    Participate in sustainable sanitation activities and innovations;

o    Document and share experiences on sustainable sanitation as generated by different stakeholders and;

o    Develop and maintain a sanitation portal that facilitates e-collaboration amongst stakeholders in the region.

In Johannesburg the three partners launched a new quarterly magazine for Southern Africa “Sanitation Matters”. The first issue Nov 2009 – Jan 2010 is very colourful. It carries an interesting story of Sanitation Learning Journey from a Namibian delegation to South Africa. They looked at various urine diversion toilets and other ecological sanitation technologies in various provinces in South Africa. The information will help feed Namibia’s the sanitation strategy and its implementation, as called for by a cabinet decision to improve sanitation.

In another article on South Africa’s Free Basic Sanitation Implementation Strategy the author says that the sanitation targets will not be met in 2010 as earlier planned.  The new target is 2014. 

For more information, contact Ditshego Kgopotso Magoro, Node Manager,  email

African commitments on sanitation budgets not met

Africa is off-track to meet the Millenium Development Goals on Sanitation. Especially special public sector budget lines for sanitation to the tune of 0.5 percent of GDP are not forthcoming. Monitoring and evaluation systems for sanitation have also not been set up yet. This is the outcome of a review of progress in 44 African countries on implementation of the eThekwini Commitments of Sanitation endorsed by African Heads of State at the AU Summit in 2008 in the Sharm, El Sheikh Declaration.

The World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program and WaterAid reviewed progress on the 10 eThekwini commitments assessed against a harmonized scoring system. They shared their draft results during the second Africa Water Week in Johannesburg from 9 to 13 November. They reported trends that indicate real progress in ensuring that five commitments are being met in most countries:

1. There is a national sanitation policy.

2. There is one national plan to meet the MDG sanitation target.

3. Adequate profile is give to sanitation in the poverty reduction strategy plan.

4. There is a principle institution accountable.

5. There is one coordinating body for sanitation.

These findings are now being validated by the countries and the AMCOW Executive Committee. The end result will be published to serve as a platform for dialogue and consultation at regional, national and local levels to development and implement AficaSan country action plans to scale up and sustain sanitation and hygiene behavioural change service delivery.

Ghana: 14.3 million Euro for sanitation crusade

Mr John Dramani Mahama, Ghana’s Vice President, on 15 July 2009, said the government is allocating 30 million Ghana cedis [Euro 14.37 million] to lead the sanitation crusade in the country. With this announcement the new NDC government fulfils its presidential election campaign promise of December 2008.

“The sanitation situation poses a challenge to government and its allied institutions, notably, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies whose responsibility it is to manage the sector.”

The Vice President said this in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Albert Abongo, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, at the opening of the 20th “Mole conference”.

He also urged civil society organizations to promote awareness on attitudinal change towards water, sanitation and hygiene issues.

Mole XX is a conference organized by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) that serves as a platform to dialogue, share information and knowledge on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector.

Source: Ghana web, 16 Jul 2009

Sell sanitation with sex appeal

‘Selling sanitation the Madison Avenue way, with good old-fashioned sex appeal and social pressure’, writes a National Geographic reporter from the Istanbul World Water Forum on 17 March 2009. How?


The feature provides six messages that every water and sanitation promoter should spread continuously.


  • Make a toilet into an object of desire.
  • It’s cool to have a toilet.
  • Be the first person on your block to have one.
  • Miss Kenya promotes toilet malls use in Kibera slum.
  • Romantic songs and videos make sanitation and health sexy in Cambodia.
  • Make it acceptable to talk about shit. 

See a video belo from Cambodia featuring an attractive young couple. The woman sings “You’re a great husband for giving me this well,” and he responds “I gave it to you because I love you.” Theay also sing about arsenic pollution.

Mozambican singer shines light on sanitation

A Mozambican musician who campaigns for clean water and sanitation has been awarded a top environmental prize. Feliciano dos Santos won a Goldman Environmental Prize for using his music star status to raise awareness about health, water and HIV/Aids issues. Santos received his award of US $150,000, described as the Nobel Prize of grassroots environmentalism, on 14 April 2008 at a ceremony in San Francisco, USA.

“I started using music when I realised that it was a good way to send a message and bring people together,” Santos told BBC News. “Even when you play a loud radio, people are drawn to it. Even when it plays sounds that are not about dirty water, they just want to listen to the sounds. “I realised that music had this power, so for this reason we thought it would be good to mix it with what we wanted to achieve.”

The 43-year-old’s motivation was fired up when he was young because he grew up in the northern province of Niassa surrounded by poor sanitation and dirty water.

Massukos’ song about latrines helps raise awareness among villagers

In 1992, shortly after he had formed his band called Massukos, Unicef was running a project to promote slab latrines. “We decided to release a little song to promote the slabs. The lyrics were: ‘Mothers, listen to me; grandmothers, listen to me, she doesn’t listen to me. The slab is so good; the slab is easy to clean’.”

As a result of the song, the demand for the latrines soared and the project struggled to cope with the number of people who wanted to get hold of one.

The success of the song prompted Unicef to approach the band to see if they would be interested in working for the project. “I said no because we thought instead of doing this for Unicef, why not do this as a double project and use music to promote hygiene and sanitation,” Santos recalled.

In 1996, he set up his own NGO called Estamos, which encouraged villagers in Niassa to improve their living conditions through better sanitation. By using music, the group sang about ways to keep a clean, healthy home; and helped people understand how poor sanitation had an impact on things like water and food supplies.

Estamos promoted low-cost, environmentally friendly sanitation that composted human waste into fertiliser. Families that used the system reported fewer diseases, while the soil produced enough crops to not only feed everyone but left a small surplus that could be sold.

Santos said the $150,000 (£75,000) prize money would not change his life but it would help focus attention on what was happening on the ground in Mozambique and Africa.

“It shows that even if you live in poor places, such as Niassa, you can have an influence on the world. “Let’s not talk about the money, let’s do things that can change the world. Don’t think about awards, think about quality of life.”

Source: Mark Kinver, Science and nature reporter, BBC News