Author Archives: WSSCC

Global Sanitation Fund reports improvements in sanitation and hygiene for millions of people

People-centred, nationally-led programmes empower millions to end open defecation, improve sanitation, and increase dignity and safety

Geneva, 28 June 2017 – A new report shows that WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) has supported governments and thousands of partners across 13 countries, stretching from Cambodia to Senegal, to enable over 15 million people to end open defecation.


As the funding arm of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), GSF-supported programmes are contributing to the Council’s vision of universal access to sustainable and equitable sanitation and hygiene across countries throughout south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Focused on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.2, GSF focuses on improving sanitation and hygiene in the poorest and most marginalized communities, thereby contributing to associated development goals for education, health, women’s empowerment, climate change and urban development.

The 2016 GSF Progress Report highlights activities and results achieved from the inception of the Fund to the end of the year. Cumulative results to 31 December 2016 include:

  • 15.2 million people have been empowered to live in ODF environments, just over the target of 15 million.
  • 12.8 million people have gained access to improved toilets, 16% more than the target of 11 million.
  • 20 million people have gained access to handwashing facilities, 81% more than the target of 11 million.

Read more or download the report in English or French


Freddy the Fly – an animated video about a community’s journey to ODF status

Meet Freddy, a fly who loves toilet fondue! Find out what happens to him when the village he lives in is triggered into cleaning up their act to become open defecation free (ODF). Please share this video widely and use Freddy to illustrate how behaviour change methods, including Community-Led Total Sanitation, work to help communities become healthier and more productive. And join the ODF movement at!

Unjela Kaleem joins WSSCC as Head of External Affairs, Communications and Coordination

UnjelaThe Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is pleased to announce Ms. Unjela Kaleem as its new Head of External Affairs, Communications and Coordination.

Ms. Kaleem comes to WSSCC with high-level expertise in all aspects of corporate communications, public affairs, corporate sustainability and stakeholder engagement, with associative experience in consumer insights and brand communications planning. She has extensive global experience in successfully leading in senior management roles with key fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies such as Nestle, public sector actors such as the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and multilateral organizations such as the World Bank.

Ms. Kaleem brings to WSSCC multidimensional outcome-driven management skills in converting actions into results and delivering on time. Her diverse skills set, international experience and leadership abilities make her well-suited to diverse cultural settings, such as in the UN-based WSSCC.

“WSSCC’s work today is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those which aim to improve equal access to sanitation and hygiene and which deliver better health, education and gender equity outcomes,” says Christopher W. Williams, WSSCC’s Executive Director. “Ms. Kaleem will be crucial in our efforts to position the organization as a leading development stakeholder. Our work to support countries to increase access through the Global Sanitation Fund, on policies and action around menstrual hygiene management, and in engaging our members and other stakeholders, will all benefit from her expertise.”

At WSSCC, Ms. Kaleem serves on the Senior Management Team and leads a department of 12 people representing 11 different nationalities. The organization has embarked upon an ambitious new WSSCC Strategy 2017-2020 which, among other goals, aims to empower 12 million people to achieve safe sanitation in the next four years.

WSSCC launches its Strategic Plan for 2017-2020

Please download the strategy here.

WSSCC is pleased to launch the Strategic Plan that will guide the organization over the next four years. The plan is the result of consultations involving more than 1,000 partners, stakeholders and members around the world, and at 16 dedicated national consultation meetings.

With Sustainable Development Goal 6:2 at its heart, the strategy is formed around two Strategic Outcomes and four Intermediate Outcomes. It identifies the results WSSCC would like to achieve, the issues it will work on, the regions where it will work, and the unique mix of tools, instruments, knowledge and human and financial resources WSSCC has to make a meaningful, quantifiable and sustainable impact for people without sanitation and hygiene in the world, especially those in the most vulnerable situations.


In developing the strategy, particular care was taken to look beyond sectors and silos and widen WSSCC’s ability to assist countries to attain not only Target 6.2 within SDG 6 on Water and Sanitation, but also to demonstrate the centrality of safe sanitation and hygiene in reducing poverty and inequalities; improving education, employment, health, and women’s empowerment; and adapting to urbanization and climate change.

Major inputs to the strategy included the recommendations of an independent evaluation of WSSCC’s work from 2012-2016.  WSSCC’s work is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to transform the world by 2030, therefore this strategy is the first in a series which later will guide WSSCC’s work from 2021-25 and 2026-30.

Read the full article on our website:

WSSCC’s Evolution 1990 – 2017

After it was formed in 1990 through a UN General Assembly resolution, WSSCC spent its first 10 years providing much-needed thematic networking and knowledge building around Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). In the 2000s, WSSCC turned its attention to advocacy and supporting a nascent network of WASH coalitions in developing countries, and developed a membership base. Following a strategy shift in 2007, WSSCC turned its focus to sanitation and hygiene – still left behind topics in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) era. In the 2010s, this shift manifested itself through sanitation and hygiene programmes supported by the Global Sanitation Fund that successfully enabled 13.2 million people to end open defecation.

WSSCC was also at the forefront of a growing international movement to leave no one behind by advocating for better policies and practices that benefitted women and girls, the elderly, the disabled, the LGBTQ community, and others. As 2017 unfolds, WSSCC is poised to help countries to achieve universal coverage not only for sanitation and hygiene, but also for education, health and much more. In all of this, WSSCC recognizes the leadership and ownership of national and local governments in planning and implementing an SDG agenda that works for them.


Local governance and sanitation: Eight lessons from Uganda

The magnitude of the sanitation crisis means that sanitation and hygiene solutions must be delivered sustainably, and on a large scale. This requires the close involvement of government at all levels. A new case study outlines eight lessons from the Global Sanitation Fund-supported Uganda Sanitation Fund in coordinating, planning, and implementing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) at scale through a decentralized government system.

Download the case study or read the feature article on


Local government health workers and latrine owners proudly display an improved latrine in Lira district, Uganda.©WSSCC/USF



Announcing WSSCC’s 2017 Webinar Series #1: Sanitation-related Psychosocial Stress and the Effects on Women and Girls

WSSCC will celebrate Women’s Week for International Women’s Day 2017 from March 6 – 10. Ahead of this, a webinar session will explore the ways in which women experience stress during their sanitation routine: Thursday 2 March 2017 from 2pm – 3pm (CET) (8-9am New York; 1-2pm London; 2-3pm Brussels; 3-4pm Johannesburg; 4-5pm Nairobi; 6:30-7:30pm Mumbai)


Please register here:

Do you know what the main stressors are for women and girls during their daily sanitation routines?  How do they cope with them?

On March 2nd, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council will host the first in a series of four webinars for 2017. This session will discuss the psychological, social, and health impacts of sanitation routines among women of reproductive age in urban slums, rural villages and indigenous villages.

Using the life-course approach, during the hour-long session participants will be guided to understand the influence of age, context and social processes on a woman’s experience and family life, and how those factors collectively impact the experience of sanitation. The conceptual model of sanitation-related psychosocial stress will also be shared.

Available on the Skype for Business platform, the session will be presented by Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Krushna Chandra Sahoo from the Asian Institute of Public Health. The Moderator is Archana Patkar, Programme Manager, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

The webinar series is open to governments, experts, practitioners and trainers in sanitation and hygiene; academia and research institutions and civil society partners.

A session will take place every quarter during the year in the form of an hour-long webinar with invited experts, in English. The format is a 15-minute presentation followed by interactive Q&A sessions.

Reading ahead:  If you would like to know more about the topic ahead of the discussion, here are two relevant readings.

  1. Sanitation-related psychosocial stress: A grounded theory study of women across the life-course in Odisha, India
  2. Briefing note on “Social and psychological impact of limited access to sanitation”

To learn more, visit our website

Catalytic programming for scale and sustainability

The 2016 Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) Learning Event produced lessons on scale, sustainability, equality and monitoring for sanitation and hygiene programmes. The conversations, reflections and lessons emanating from the Learning Event are examined in a recently released reflection paper.

Download the complete paper or read the summary below.


Credit: WSSCC/Javier Acebal

Strategies and approaches for reaching scale

Planning for scale

GSF-supported programmes aim to operate at scale in order to demonstrate that ending open defecation or achieving improved sanitation at a national scale is not only possible, but also cost-effective, sustainable, and can ensure that nobody is left behind. As raised amongst participants, reaching scale with quality behaviour change interventions requires strategic planning from the beginning. The key consideration in planning for scale is demonstrating a model for achieving ODF within the specific context, often within a given state or region, to eventually reach nationwide replication.

Key lessons learned:

  • Aim to achieve ODF status for administrative units above the village level.
  • Build an implementation army.
  • Facilitate an enabling environment.
  • Align programming with existing structures and institutions.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Discussions revolved around ODF roadmaps and how they are critical for many GSF-supported programmes in planning for and achieving scale. Participants also discussed going beyond rural ODF at scale and planning for scale in urban areas and public spaces.


Credit: Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA)


Decentralized delivery systems

As a key link between achieving scale and ensuring institutional sustainability, each GSF-supported programme is implemented through a variety of decentralized institutions, organizations, and actors. Participants discussed how they leverage and support locally-based structures to transform sanitation and hygiene behaviour at scale.

Key lessons learned:

  • Decentralization goes beyond local governments and NGOs – it involves informal or other non-state actors.
  • Decentralization is critical to strengthening local capacity.
  • Decentralization facilitates ownership at all levels.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Discussions explored the key challenge of ensuring adequate resourcing to ensure the sustainability of collective behaviour change. Participants also highlighted the need to unpack what decentralized delivery looks like in different contexts.

Capacity building and quality assurance of CLTS facilitators

As the principle implementers and coordinators of programme activities, building the capacity of Sub-grantees is essential for reaching scale with quality.

Key lessons learned:

  • Go beyond formal training.
  • Focus on those with the skills.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Participants noted that bringing Executing Agency staff closer to Sub-grantees greatly enhances the capacity to facilitate hands-on training, ensure quality control and link different levels of implementation. Another key discussion revolved around incorporating emerging local actors such as Natural Leaders and Community Consultants, who can greatly enhance both the scale and the quality of high-quality CLTS facilitation. Participants also highlighted the need to ensure the sustainability of built capacity among Sub-grantees and local actors during the transition phase of GSF-supported programmes.

Building the movement

GSF Executing Agencies and Sub-grantees do not act in a vacuum. Instead, dynamic movements involving diverse actors at all levels are critical for igniting collective behaviour change at scale, and for continuing the fight against open defecation beyond the life of the programme.

Key lessons learned:

  • Bring sector actors together.
  • Start where you will succeed by identifying areas where political support is highest.
  • Involve everyone.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Key themes explored in the discussions were: valuing local actors and initiatives; cataloguing Institutional Triggering approaches; following up on commitments made during Institutional Triggering sessions; and promoting local accountability.


Credit: UN-Habitat

Strategies for sustainability

Understanding ‘slippage’

As programmes mature and the challenge shifts from bringing communities to ODF to sustaining their ODF status, many are confronted with the issue of slippage. This concept refers to communities returning to previous unhygienic behaviours, or the inability of some or all community members to continue to meet the criteria for maintaining ODF status.

Key lessons learned:

  • Slippage factors vary across countries.
  • Behaviour change is the principle slippage determinant.
  • High-quality CLTS facilitation is the most effective strategy to address slippage.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Themes explored during the discussions included the definitions of slippage, criteria for sustainable infrastructure and how to ensure smarter monitoring and verification.

Download ‘Sanitation and Hygiene Behaviour Change at Scale: Understanding Slippage’.

Sanitation technology and supply-side approaches

As communities are triggered and take collective action to end open defecation, climbing the ‘sanitation ladder’ is a key aspect of sustainability. However, major challenges remain in ensuring that the promotion of sanitation and hygiene technologies is affordable, appropriate, and reinforces – rather than undermines – collective behaviour change.

Key lesson learned:

Supply-side development approaches are most effective when behaviour change is ingrained.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Discussion topics included: accelerating private sector engagement; understanding that sanitation marketing – like CLTS – is not a silver bullet; developing community-based supply chains; ensuring equality; and enhancing market access in rural areas.

Handwashing promotion

Despite being one the most effective ways to prevent some of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity, the uptake of handwashing with soap (or ash) often falls behind other health indicators.

Key lesson learned:

Rather than trying to change behaviour through health sensitization, growing evidence suggests that social messaging, building on a set of common motivators or triggers, is often more effective in improving handwashing behaviour.

Conversations, reflections and questions:

Discussions reflected on the power of ‘nudging’ hygiene behaviour, school handwashing events, climbing the ‘hygiene ladder’, and the challenge of systematically measuring the uptake of handwashing.

Reaching the most vulnerable

Sustaining community-wide sanitation and hygiene behaviour change requires that everyone can access and use improved sanitation and hygiene. Even the most vulnerable must become active participants in their community’s collective behaviour change journey. Ensuring equality and non-discrimination is a priority for GSF-supported programmes.

Key lessons learned:

  • High-quality CLTS is key.
  • Promote local solidarity mechanisms – the most effective solutions to ensure that nobody is left behind usually come from the community itself.

Conversations, reflections, and questions:

Discussions focused on methodologies for monitoring and evaluating equality and non-discrimination, behavioural vulnerability, how vulnerability is defined, embedding inclusion into supply-side activities, triggering for equality, and embedding equality into CLTS activities.


Credit: WSSCC

Measuring and verifying at scale

There is a need to enhance and refine monitoring frameworks as GSF-supported programmes mature and transition to scale. This includes working with other sector partners and governments to harmonize national ODF verification systems and protocols, and capturing impact-level health and social indicators.

What are we measuring?

Definitions of ODF frequently vary across, and within, countries. This has critical implications for evaluating programme performance, benchmarking value for money, and communicating how GSF-supported programme’s contribute to the sustainable improvement of adequate sanitation and hygiene for everyone.

Key lesson learned:

ODF goes beyond just stopping defecation in the open. Instead, ODF commonly refers to completely breaking oral-faecal contamination by including criteria such as the overall hygiene of latrines and the presence of handwashing stations with soap or ash. Differences in definitions across GSF-supported programmes also reveal to what extent ODF goes beyond simply ending defecating in the open.

Conversations, reflections, and questions:

Discussions focused on the varied criteria for improved sanitation, adopting a standardized GSF ODF definition, capturing the nuances of the behaviour change journey, and shifting the focus from ODF to total sanitation.

Monitoring and verification at scale

Monitoring and verifying the ODF status of thousands of communities poses significant financial and capacity challenges.

Key lessons learned:

  • Leverage existing, locally-based monitoring and verification structures.
  • Promote government leadership.

Conversations, reflections, and questions:

Discussions focused on: community-driven monitoring; going beyond simply checking results and using the verification process to support other programming aspects; exploring what qualifies as a ‘third party’ verification actor; using sampling methodologies; and promoting best practice verification systems.

Reflections and next steps

A key aim of the Learning Event was to provide country teams with concrete ideas, approaches and innovations to adapt to their contexts, in order to improve the outcomes and impact of their programmes. While this aim was achieved, it is clear that many reflections and discussions from the event require more answers, and suitable follow-up. The GSF is committed to continuing and improving its learning journey, which includes the sharing of lessons learned, reflections and challenges. It is hoped that this report can inspire further learning and sharing, both within the GSF family and in the wider water, sanitation and hygiene sector.

Download the complete paper on the WSSCC website: