Author Archives: WSSCC

Can WASH deliver more than just sanitation?

Through successful WASH intervention, communities access a new service that improves their quality of life, and also learn about equity and inclusion.

Blog by development expert Suvojit Chattopadhyay

The abysmal state of access to safe water and sanitation facilities in the developing world is currently a major cause for alarm; 580,000 children die every year from preventable diarrheal diseases. This is due largely to the 2.5 billion people around the globe who do not have access to safe sanitation. Not only can an effective WASH intervention save lives, it can also engineer changes in the social fabric of communities that adopt these behavioural changes. This points to a key attribute of a successful WASH intervention – that through these programmes, communities not only access a new service that improves their quality of life, but they also learn from being part of a concrete intervention that emphasises equity and inclusion.

Let me explain how. Safe sanitation is essentially ‘total’. In a community, even one family practising open defecation puts the health of other families at risk. Also, unsafe sanitation practices pollute local potable and drinking water sources in the habitations. Together, this can undo any gains from partial coverage of WASH interventions. This much is now widely accepted by sanitation practitioners around the world. However, there remains a serious challenge when it comes to the implementation of this concept.

When a community is introduced to a WASH-focused behaviour change campaign, there are often variations in the levels of take-up in different families. This could be because of several barriers – financial ability, cultural beliefs, education levels, etc. In response, external agencies have many options. They can focus more on families in their behaviour change campaigns, offer them material and financial support or incentives, or exert peer pressure (which may in some cases become coercive, etc).

However, the best approach – whether facilitated by an external agent or not – is for a community to devise a collective response. The issue should be framed as a collective action problem that requires solving for the creation of a public good. In many instances, communities have come together to support the poorest families – social engineering at its finest. At its best, recognising the needs of every member of a community will lead to a recognition of the challenges that the typically marginalised groups face. It is this recognition that could prompt a rethink of social norms and relationships.

Read the full article on the WSSCC Guardian partner zone.

Can We Finance Sustainable Development?

Huffington Post blog by Chris Williams, WSSCC Executive Director

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the most comprehensive international poverty alleviation movement in history. Since 1990, extreme poverty has been cut by half; 17,000 fewer children die each day; and 2.3 billion people gained access to clean drinking water. A multi-stakeholder coalition of governments, international organizations, and civil society groups have tackled crucial issues ranging from education to improved sanitation to gender equality.

And yet, the challenge of empowering hundreds of millions more to gain access to proper healthcare, sanitary facilities, and education is enormous. As more countries have attained middle-income status, inequality has soared. The wealthiest individuals have become wealthier while growth-with-equity remains a distant prospect.

In Dodoma, Tanzania, a community group comes together every Saturday to organize their finances. Villagers earn interest on their savings and give out loans. Everyone plays a role - here three keyholders open the chest containing the loan registrations. Photograph: WSSCC/Jenny Matthews

In Dodoma, Tanzania, a community group comes together every Saturday to organize their finances. Villagers earn interest on their savings and give out loans. Everyone plays a role – here three keyholders open the chest containing the loan registrations. Photograph: WSSCC/Jenny Matthews

This week, the global development community will congregate in Addis Ababa to decide how to finance the next fifteen years of inclusive growth and the elimination of poverty. The positive news is that Member States have painstakingly created a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a comprehensive post-2015 plan that will strike at the heart of global poverty, and set the poorest nations and communities on the path towards equitable and long-lasting growth.

While the goals seek to augment, broaden, and expand upon the wide-ranging successes of the MDGs, the sobering fact is that the conventional model for financing development is in need of a massive overhaul. Traditional channels of overseas development assistance (ODA) from developed nations to the developing world are not only insufficient for financing the ambitious post-2015 agenda, but it’s clear that development as we know it is no longer relevant, nor desirable.

No longer relevant, because the world has changed and the expertise that will drive post-2015 growth is being cultivated in-country by capitalizing on local solutions. And no longer desirable, because much of the development assistance has been self-serving and ineffectively utilized in the first place. The system is broken and it is time to redo development, building from the ground up.

This week’s conference on how to finance development is therefore a seminal turning point for how we will solve some of the most intractable development challenges of the day. A turning point because there is recognition from donor countries that they need to be more effective in selecting funding priorities and disbursing ODA. And a turning point in that the developing countries are realizing that the solution lies at their fingertips.

Developing countries harbour a technical knowledge base within their borders – the expertise, innovations, and solutions necessary for inclusive growth are home-grown and just waiting to be tapped. Increasingly, innovative citizens are creatively devising south-south, country-to-country delivery models for development. Channelled effectively, this has the potential to finance the vast majority of sustainable growth in the developing world.

This is a radical departure from the traditional paradigm of massive donor-funded agencies issuing a loan, which often takes three years to develop, 100 staff to implement, and then is neither tracked nor delivered. Donor funds can now form a much smaller portion of the resources required to solve the development challenges in the global South. The question for governments that continue to provide official ODA is therefore how best to apply funds that can leverage these different sources of domestic capital?

One of the answers lies in innovative financing methods for development. Global multi-stakeholder partnerships have proven successful in the field of health, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). All of these funds use ODA efficiently by leveraging community savings, public investment and private capital, therefore putting into action the principles behind the SDGs.

The GSF, a fund administered by my organization, the UNOPS-hosted Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), invests in behavior change activities that enable large numbers of people in developing countries to improve their sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The only global fund solely dedicated to sanitation and hygiene, the GSF is light of foot and heavy on scale. Households and local governments work with local entrepreneurs and a network of hundreds of partners. Together, they create the conditions for tens of millions of people to live in open defecation free environments and access adequate toilets and handwashing facilities.

Importantly, individual household investments in sanitation mobilized by GSF programming currently amount to four times the value of its funding. A grant of $5 million can therefore yield $20 million in community savings per country. The most powerful by-product of this investment then materializes in the form of public capital, once governments realize the commitment that their people have made. Private sector engagement is yet another positive outcome, as demand for products and services is generated through the behavior change of society. This is the exact model that the development world is seeking -community-based solutions that are government supported and commercially operated.

Read the full article on Huffington Post

The Human Right to Water and Sanitation

By Carolien van der Voorden, WSSCC Senior Programme Officer

Water and sanitation are fundamental human rights, and the first priority should be to ‘connect’ those who so far have remained unconnected, unserved, and disadvantaged.

We shouldn’t think of people as users or consumers of a service, but as Rights Holders whose rights need to be fulfilled equally for all.
While nobody would dispute this principle, the reality is that there are limited resources, a high lifecycle cost of water and sanitation services, and many social, cultural, economic and historic barriers that constrain poor and disadvantaged people in their quest for better services and a better life.

CLTS triggering in a village in Tanzania. Photo: Jenny Matthews/WSSCC

CLTS triggering in a village in Tanzania. Photo: Jenny Matthews/WSSCC

Community-led total sanitation, or CLTS, is an approach especially prevalent in rural sanitation, however many human rights experts and academics are not convinced that CLTS is a good approach to reach people without access to sanitation.

The main objection is that it is fundamentally unfair to expect very poor people to pay for infrastructure while less poor people, especially those in urban areas, receive highly subsidised access to infrastructure and services. Secondly, there is a perception that these people are being coerced and shamed into paying for a service they might not afford, or want.

WSSCC houses the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), a funding mechanism that builds heavily on CLTS approaches to reach millions of previously unserved people in a range of countries in Africa and Asia. It works with national governments to develop strategies and roadmaps to reach universal coverage in terms of whole districts, states and countries becoming first Open Defecation Free (ODF), and then working from there to ensure that sanitation services are sustainable and that people can move on from basic sanitation to ‘improved’ sanitation services.

First focusing on achieving ODF status is a strategic choice that is very much based on the idea of ‘Some for All’ rather than ‘All for Some’, but also takes into account that, while sanitation is in essence a private behavior, it has collective consequences. Living in an ODF environment has large impacts on people’s health, wellbeing and dignity, and on the environment.

It is true that CLTS expects people to pay, in cash or in kind, for their sanitation infrastructure. But this does not mean CLTS is a no-subsidy or ‘cheap’ approach and that governments are therefore taking the easy way out by making households pay for all the costs. CLTS is based on supporting people’s own desires to change their behaviour and to live in a clean environment. For CLTS to work well, it requires strong and sustained investment in ‘software’. It also requires public investments in hardware in schools, market places, and public buildings.

CLTS embodies the choice to not fund the initial hardware costs of constructing the latrines simply because experience has shown that that is not the most effective use of available public resources and that investing in behaviour change has a much larger potential of ensuring that people not only have access to, but also use safe sanitation services and practice related hygienic behaviour.
Where a right is very much linked to behaviour, simply focusing on the infrastructure is just not enough.

This is not to say that it isn’t a problem when people are forced to take out loans from self-help groups that they can’t afford, or when people are forced into practicing a behaviour rather than making an informed choice to do so, or that CLTS never ‘leaves out’ those most disadvantaged, most deprived, most isolated.

All these things happen, and they mean that those implementing CLTS-based programmes need to be careful, making sure that community triggering and decision making processes are as inclusive as possible, that households needing more help receive the assistance required, and that follow-up processes are designed in such a way that nobody gets left behind.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Global Sanitation Fund Field Trip in Senegal – Interesting points and reflections by Jamie Myers

By Jamie Myers, Research Officer at the CLTS Knowledge Hub

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Last week in the run up to AfricaSan I joined a Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) field trip and learning event in the Matam region, Senegal. Along with GSF programme managers and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) National Coordinators, we visited different villages where local NGOs have been triggering communities. Matam, in the north east of Senegal separated from Mauritania by the Senegal River, has a population of over 550,000 of which 98% are Muslim. In the region, 47.2% practice open defecation.

Following the field trip I also joined a sharing and learning event in Dakar where executing agencies presented the work they had been undertaking in their own countries.

Throughout the week there were a number of interesting points. The ones I found most interesting were use of religious leaders, support mechanisms for the most vulnerable and ways to change and sustain the hygienic management of child faeces. All three are discussed in more detail below.

Religion  

As mentioned above, in Matam 98% of the population are Muslim. The sub-grantees in Senegal have made sure to not just gain the support from local Imams but make sure they play a central role in the intervention. Imams in some of the villages we visited are involved in post-triggering and post-open-defecation free (ODF) activities through their participation in village sanitation and hygiene communities. The use of religious leaders to promote sanitation and hygiene messages appears to have been very effective for collective behaviour change and hopefully the sustainability of ODF villages.

From country presentations in Dakar I learnt that a similar approach is being used in Togo and Nigeria where messages from the Koran and the Bible are used to promote hygienic messages.

In addition, it was also interesting to hear that in one village in Senegal a demonstration latrine had been set up at the mosque – a place frequented mostly by men who are often harder to convince about the benefits of stopping open defecation.

Improved latrine funding mechanism for the most vulnerable

In some communities solidarity funds have been set up. There is a registration fee along with a fee collected each month when members meet. The fund can be used for the construction of new toilets and maintenance of existing toilets for those who need it. In two villages we visited, the funds had been used to build four toilets for the most vulnerable households in the community. Over the whole project area 60 improved latrines have been built through these funds over the past two years.

I learnt that this idea had been taken from another non-sanitation related development programme that was already underway in the region. It shows that it is worth investing time into thinking more about successful programmes in different sectors and thinking about how community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and those working on sanitation and hygiene could borrow and adapt effective initiatives from others.

It is worth noting that the communities visited had the perfect environment for this kind of activity. They were very tightknit homogenous communities.

Read the full article on the WSSCC AfricaSan 4 blog. 

Global Sanitation Fund reports large-scale advances in sanitation and hygiene in 13 countries

Lucie Obiokang with the toilet she built after being triggered.

Lucie Obiokang with the toilet she built after being triggered.

A new report shows that the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) has supported governments and hundreds of their national partners in 13 countries, stretching from Cambodia to Senegal, to enable 7 million people in more than 20,500 communities to end open defecation.   

These results are published in the GSF’s latest Progress Report (link to report; link to photos), which highlights cumulative results from the start of the fund until the end of 2014. Nationally-led programmes supported by the GSF have enabled:

  • 4.2 million people with improved toilets
  • 7 million people and more than 20,500 communities to be open-defecation free
  • 8 million people with handwashing facilities

Currently, 2.5 billion people, or 40% of the global population, lack access to decent sanitation. Of those, more than a billion defecate in the open. Diarrheal disease, largely caused by poor sanitation and hygiene, is a leading cause of malnutrition, stunting and child mortality, claiming nearly 600,000 under-5 lives every year. Inadequate facilities also affect education and economic productivity and impact the dignity and personal safety of women and girls.

Established by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the GSF funds behaviour change activities to help large numbers of poor people in the hardest-to-reach areas attain safe sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. These activities are community-led, support national efforts, and bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in order to address, at a large scale, the severe deficiencies in access to sanitation and hygiene.

The GSF is a pooled financing mechanism with the potential to further accelerate access to sanitation for hundreds of millions of people over the next 15 years. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the GSF reported an almost 90 percent increase in the number of people living open-defecation free in target regions of 13 countries[1] across Africa and Asia. During this same period, the GSF has also supported a 55 percent increase in the number of people with access to improved toilets in those same areas. The United Nations system has identified global funds as an important tool to enable member countries to achieve their national development targets, including those for sanitation and hygiene.[2]

“These results prove that we are moving closer to our vision of a world where everybody has sustained sanitation and hygiene, supported by safe water,” said Chris Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC.  “This is a crucial step towards achieving better health, reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability for the most marginalized people in the world.”

These GSF results have been achieved due to the work of more than 200 partners, including executing agencies and sub-grantees composed of representatives from governments, international organizations, academic institutions, the United Nations and civil society. One of the strongest success factors in the GSF approach is that it allows flexibility for countries to develop their programmes within the context of their own institutional framework and according to their own specific sanitation and hygiene needs, sector capacity and stakeholders. This implementation methodology is used to reach large numbers of households in a relatively short period of time and is vital for scaling up safe sanitation and hygiene practices.

“GSF is one of the few funds for government-led, donor-funded sanitation and hygiene programmes,” said Williams. “It can uniquely serve as a catalyst to the wider sector as a model that is replicable for others interested in large-scale behaviour change.”

Reaching scale has required that sub-grantees can identify influential, strategic communities, and make effective use of natural leaders, religious and local leaders, or hundreds of others who serve as individual sanitation and hygiene champions. GSF supported programmes apply a local delivery mechanism that engages households in thousands of villages, which enables people to make informed decisions about their sanitation and hygiene behaviour that can improve their health, education and productivity.

The report also highlights the GSF’s impact on national programmes. In Uganda, there are now more than 1.4 million people living in open-defecation free (ODF) environments, thanks to GSF-funded activities, and close to three million people have been reached by hygiene messages as a result of decentralized local government intervention. In Madagascar, over 1.3 million people are now living in ODF environments – in all 22 of the countries regions – and India’s GSF-supported programme has over 782,000 people with handwashing facilities.

“Access to improved sanitation has to be a sustainable reality for every person in the community, regardless of age, gender or disability, in order for the health and other benefits to be enjoyed by all,” said David Shimkus, Programme Director of the GSF. “This report shows that GSF-supported programmes are making major strides in achieving improved sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable, and all stakeholders will continue to work together to ensure such progress continues.”

The Governments of Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have contributed to the GSF since its establishment in 2008. Close to $105 million has been committed for 13 country programmes, which aim to reach 36 million people.

[1] Benin, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

[2] See draft outcome document for the forthcoming Addis Ababa Accord of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Financing for Sustainable Development report and its Role of Global Funds in a Post-2015 Development Framework.

WASH champions celebrated at AfricaSan Awards

Originally posted on wsscc:

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

 

By Okechukwu Umelo

For a minute, I thought I was attending the Oscars or Grammys. The 2015 AfricaSan awards, held at the King Fahd Palace in Dakar on 26 May, was a night of glitz and glamour. A red carpet was rolled out to welcome participants who enjoyed a gala dinner and vibrant music and theater performances from local artists.

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

But all the fanfare was for a very worthy cause: to celebrate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) leaders who have made major strides and broken down barriers in WASH across Africa.

And the winners are:

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Review of eThekwini commitments at AfricaSan 4: Progress still slow, new commitments expected

Originally posted on wsscc:

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

By Alain Tossounon

Seven years after the commitments made in eThekwini, The African world is meeting in Senegal for the 4th Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene. The meeting in Dakar could be the opportunity for yet another new start. However, the review of the commitments made in Kigali, Rwanda, shows that, although some countries have made significant efforts, others are still lagging behind. A spurt of effort is now needed to ensure universal access to sanitation in all countries on the continent.

In 2008, 45 African countries took up the challenge of prioritizing sanitation to achieve the MDGs. Since then, 42 countries have actually pursued the process of monitoring progress towards fulfilling the commitments made at eThekwini, and over 30 have produced action plans.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC Mansour Faye, Minister of Water and Sanitation in Senegal, during the opening ceremony of AfricaSan 4. Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Seven years on, the picture…

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