Tag Archives: open defecation eradication

Focus on people, not their toilets

Q&A with WSSCC’s Carolien van der Voorden about whether building toilets is sufficient for stopping open defecation

About herself: “I work for the Global Sanitation Fund of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). The Fund is all about collective sanitation and hygiene behaviour change to tackle the sanitation crisis, currently working in 13 countries in Africa and Asia to demonstrate viable models that result in open defecation free (ODF) communities, districts and states, and can pave the way towards ODF nations.”

Q: Do you think the SDG of ending open defecation by 2030 is realistic?

A: We have to believe the goal is feasible, if governments and all their partners agree on common strategies and roadmaps that are based on collective behaviour change and demand creation rather than on subsidy driven approaches which, apart from their effectiveness, in most countries would require many times more the financial resources than are available.


Photo: WSSCC

Q: How can someone be convinced to want and use a toilet, when they don’t currently?

A: Some of GSF’s country programmes are having great success applying the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach. This can really work, just look at Madagascar’s programme has so far resulted in more than 11,000 communities declared ODF, but it does come with challenges in terms of going to scale with quality. We are finding that especially the quality of facilitation, and the need to make sure community engagement is a process of pre-triggering, triggering and strong follow-up, are two key elements.

It is not a silver bullet but we have seen the approach work in many different circumstances and countries. The key as far as we can see it, is to ensure these “demand creation interventions” are really community driven, which is sometimes tricky when CLTS becomes government policy or strategy and so local governments might feel pressured to push communities into ODF, rather than these being real community learning journeys.

Our Madagascar colleagues put a lot of emphasis on the principle that community problems require community solutions – to make sure these do not become outsider-driven programmes. This is not to say that the communities do not need support and advice, but even there we have found that many of the most innovative solutions to deal with specific infrastructure issues come from within the community.

Q: 11,000?! That’s impressive. By “declared” you mean self-declared? Or independently verified?

A: Verification in Madagascar is a five step process where the fourth and fifth steps are third party verification.

The numbers we publish are at the very least based on three steps of verification, where communities first self declare are then checked by sub-grantees and then by our Executing Agency, and some of them also by the additional third party verifiers.

Q: What behaviour change initiatives around hygiene do we know work? Can/how they be replicated or adapted to reduce open defecation rates?

A: We see hygiene and sanitation messages as linked, especially the need for systematic hand washing with soap or ash. The three key behaviours to defeat ODF, keeping toilets fly proof and washing hands after using the toilet and before preparing food are the key ways to ensure that communities are key to our CLTS approaches. As well as being the key indicators for declaring a community ODF.

Q: How can governments be encouraged to take the lead on this issue?

A: I think there is real value in showing what is possible if government dedicates the necessary resources and really gets involved, at all levels.

In some of our programmes we’ve had success in doing institutional triggering, where decision makers, from the president down to the local councillor, are taken on the same journey as communities are and they get triggered to take action in whatever way is most relevant and appropriate linked to their position.

In terms of the president of Madagascar, this helped to establish the national Roadmap towards ODF. And more importantly, doing this at the local level really creates the sense of a movement for change, where everybody is clear on the role they have to play and puts that into concrete action plans that they can then hold each other accountable for.

Another thing we have learned from our programmes in Uganda and Nigeria, where local governments are the implementing agents, that capacity building and training of trainers can only go so far. The real capacity comes from learning on the job, and that requires an implementation budget.

There is no point just training local governments and then leave it at that. There must be a focus on implementation and continuous presence in order to refine strategies and approaches. As said before, there is no silver bullet so even CLTS needs to be continuously adapted and local governments must be given a chance to learn and understand this on the job over time.

Q: Any final comment?

A: Lift every stone, increase the movement, find champions and most importantly, focus on people, less on their toilets!

The original Q&A was hosted by Katherine Purvis of the Guardian and can be found here.

Global Sanitation Experts Hail Madagascar Roadmap to become Open-Defecation Free Nation by 2019

madagascar_countrypage_gsf_smallAntananarivo – March 25, 2015 — Today, a high-level delegation of global sanitation and hygiene experts arrived in Madagascar for the biannual Steering Committee meeting of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.

During the visit, the Steering Committee will see WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) programme in Madagascar, locally known as the Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA), in action. Developed and guided strategically by a diverse group of national stakeholders, the FAA is facilitated by Medical Care Development International (MCDI) and implemented by 30 sub-grantee organisations. It has evolved into a driving force in the national movement to end open defecation, which adversely affects the health, livelihood and educational opportunities for 10 million people in Madagascar and some 1 billion worldwide.

The five-day Steering Committee visit is dedicated to reinforcing the country’s top-level political commitment to a new “National Road Map” for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector that aims to end open defecation (ODF) in Madagascar by 2019. Madagascar’s most senior politicians, including President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo, the President of the National Assembly, and Dr. Johanita Ndahimananjara, Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, have committed their support to achieving ODF status.

“Since 2010, Madagascar has made tremendous progress in ensuring access to basic sanitation for the rural population of the country, by introduction and scaling up of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS),” said Dr. Chris W. Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC. “Nearly 1.4 million people now live free of open defecation in over 10,900 communities throughout the country, one of the best examples of how individual and local initiative can lead to collective, transformative change for an entire country.”

The visit also coincides with heightened global awareness of sanitation in 2015. The United Nations Secretary General and Deputy-Secretary General have launched a Call to Action on Sanitation, encouraging global institutions, governments, households, the private sector, NGOs, and Parliamentarians, to eradicate the practice of open defecation.

“FAA has become an important catalyst for the initiation and creation of a national, regional and local movement in favour of eliminating open defecation,” said Dr. Rija Lalanirina Fanomeza, GSF Programme Manager, MCDI. “A wide spectrum of sanitation and hygiene stakeholders in Madagascar are actively collaborating to have maximum impact on the ground.”

Ever since President Rajaonarimampianina’s government came into power in January 2014, sanitation has received special attention, and the need for achieving an open-defecation free Madagascar has been considered inevitable by the highest political leadership of the nation.

During the visit, the delegation will visit villages which are now free of open defecation, and those that are not, in order to gain a firsthand understanding of the how and why people change and sustain their sanitation and hygiene behaviours.

Kenya – Ministry alarmed by ‘long calls’ along highways, to build toilets along Nairobi-Nakuru highway

Kenya – Ministry alarmed by ‘long calls’ along highways, to build toilets along Nairobi-Nakuru highway | Source: by Antony Gitonga, Standard Digital, Aug 8, 2014 |

NAKURU COUNTY: The ministry of health has expressed its concern over the high number of people who defecate in the open mainly along the main highways in the country. Following the revelation, Nakuru County has announced plans in major centres along the Nairobi-Nakuru and Naivasha-Mai Mahiu road to construct public toilets. According to the department of health, the open defecation was one of the leading causes in the increase in the number of typhoid and diarrhoea cases in the county.

Nakuru County director of health Dr Benedict Osore with county public health officer Samuel King’ori and USAID's WASHplus project manager Evelyn Makena examine some chairs used for defecation for the disabled at Longonot village in Naivasha. He said that around 300 of the 1,949 villages in the county had been declared open defecation free.  [PHOTO: ANTONY GITONGA/STANDARD]

Nakuru County director of health Dr Benedict Osore with county public health officer Samuel King’ori and USAID’s WASHplus project manager Evelyn Makena examine some chairs used for defecation for the disabled at Longonot village in Naivasha. He said that around 300 of the 1,949 villages in the county had been declared open defecation free. [PHOTO: ANTONY GITONGA/STANDARD]

This emerged during celebrations in Longonot Primary school in Naivasha where Longonot was declared as the first Open Defecation Free (ODF) village in Nakuru County. According to Nakuru County director of health Dr Benedict Osore, open defecation on the highways was a major problem which needed to be addressed urgently.

He said that the county in conjunction with other partners was planning to construct public toilets along the highway which would come in handy for motorists and passengers. “The centres will also offer other services like HIV testing and counselling and the public toilets will help deal in containing cases of diarrhoea and typhoid,” he said. He said that the county was committed to eradicating communicable diseases in the next five years and was working on how to dispose pampers which had turned out to be public nuisance.

On his part, Nakuru county public health officer Samuel King’ori said that around 300 of the 1,949 villages in the county had been declared open defecation free. King’ori said the campaign aimed at sensitizing residents on proper hygiene and had seen the number of sanitation related diseases drop significantly. “So far we have trained 235 public health officers who are tasked with training residents on the use of sanitation as one way of eradication communicable diseases,” he said. “Through ODF we have been able to reduce diarrhoea and typhoid cases by 75 percent and we seek to have them eliminated in the county,” said King’ori.

The campaign which is targeting various villages in the county as one way of reducing disease burden has been funded by USAID Washplus and FHI360. During the celebrations a natural leader Pauline Nduta expressed her concern over the number of passengers defecating along the highways while traveling to their destinations. Nduta said they had formed a group of villagers who were monitoring the situation and sensitizing the passengers on the need to use latrines instead of defecating in the open. “We have seen a drop in the number of typhoid cases amongst our school going children thanks to this campaign against open defecation,” she said.