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Global Sanitation Fund Field Trip – Interesting points and reflections

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

By Jamie Myers, Research Officer at the CLTS Knowledge Hub

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.

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

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.

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

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.

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Child faeces committee members

Community members had been encouraged to set up village committees to monitor and support the transition from open defecation and the use of unimproved latrines to everyone using improved facilities. In one of these villages we found three members that were charged with looking after child health and hygiene. This included making sure that potties are used, emptied into latrines and then cleaned either with detergent or ash. It is of interest especially if it could help reinforce the message of needing to dispose of child faeces hygienically.

Learning from this example could really benefit the whole water, sanitation and hygiene sector. The Water and Sanitation Program’s (WSP) recent work on child faeces highlighted that in the 26 countries where data was collected, over 50% of households with children under the age of three were unsafely disposing of child faeces. Unsafe practices were also used by some with improved toilets and latrines (WSP, 2015).

Final thought:

I really hope I am given to opportunity to participate in more of these activities. It was a really enriching experience to join an international delegation all wanting to learn from what was happening in Senegal. It was excellent to see such successful interventions and see the huge strides that had been made in all communities we visited. In addition, being together also triggered conversations that would never have taken place. However, it is important to note we can learn as much from challenges and mistakes than we can from achievements.  My advice for future trips would be to encourage more critical discussions and visit villages where work has been more challenging and successes have been fewer.

Future questions:

There were a few questions that I started to think about when on the field trip and whilst writing this blog that I think would be areas of future research that would be really beneficial:

  • Can nominating a particular committee member to focus on children lead to the sustainable hygienic management of child faeces?
  • Can we expect communities to support one another when there is little community cohesion? If not are smart, targeted support or subsides the only other alternative? What are other possibilities?
  • How can we engage Hindu religious leaders in the fight against open defecation in India where the battle ground is largest?
  • Are there other successful tools used in other sectors that could strengthen CLTS and other sanitation and hygiene interventions?

Reference:

WSP, 2015, Ensuring Safe Sanitation for Children, http://www.wsp.org/content/ensuring-safe-sanitation-children-0

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WASH champions celebrated at AfricaSan Awards

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:

Read on to find out why these champions won their awards!

Award winners:

Le Service National de l’Hgyiène, the National Hygiene Service of the Government of Senegal, won the HYGIENE AWARD for its role in elevating the status of hygiene in the villages of Senegal. In partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the agency carried out a number of activities to encourage local communities to improve sanitation, wash their hands with soap, improve water quality and treat potable water at home. With leadership from the agency, in 2014, over 1 million people were sensitized on good hygiene practices and community-led total sanitation (CLTS) was carried out in 420 villages, out of which 287 are now open-defecation free (ODF).

Dr. Caitlyn Butler, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, won the RESEARCH & TECHNICAL INNOVATION award for her work in developing technical solutions for sanitation services and products to make them affordable, reliable and sustainable. She received two competitive grants from the Gates Foundation to develop a microbial fuel cell latrine that directly converts human waste into electricity. Built with community resources, the microbial fuel cell latrine is a low cost, low maintenance toilet that reduces disease, helps preserve the environment, enhances human dignity and meets the sanitation needs of rural communities in developing countries.

Maji na Ufanisi (Swahili for ‘Water and Development’), a WASH NGO in Kenya, won the YOUTH AWARD for its work in supporting youths in Mombasa, Kenya to develop income generating activities in the WASH sector. The NGO provided youths with opportunities to salvage damaged market toilets and build thriving, independently managed facilities that serve over 20,000 market users every day. The NGO’s work utilizes an entrepreneurial model focused on running hygiene and sanitation services as a business. Youths are organized into different groups that are trained in business management, commercial marketing and behavior change and communications approaches. As a result, the youths managing these sanitation services have been able to improve their income and livelihoods through the financial process generated from the business, while also helping to raise the standard of sanitation and hygiene in their communities. The youths are making combined a total of $12,500 a month.

L’Office national de l’eau et de l’assainissement, the National Water and Sanitation Office of Burkina Faso, won the IMPACT AT SCALE AWARD. As the urban water supply and sanitation provider in Burkina Faso, the office serves approximately 42 cities and towns across the country. The key to its success has been the Government’s commitment to reform, which includes the successful implementation of an innovative performance based service approach, demonstrating that it is possible to establish a well performing public water utility in a poor and developing country, when there is governance that ensures autonomy, transparency and accountability.

The award was presented by Chris Williams, Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

The Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA) won the INTEGRITY AWARD for serving as a strong advocate for the development, effective management and scale up of water and sanitation technologies in urban, peri-urban and rural communities across Zambia. Since 2013, WASAZA has in collaboration with partners organized a series of integrity management workshops for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia’s WASH sector, to enable them to reduce costs related to non-integrity, as well as boost performance, become more reliable in the eyes of clients and make their business more robust to handle reputational and legal risks. In 2014, six integrity management workshops were organized for a total of 30 SMEs in local communities. As a result of its success, this workshop has been demonstrated at the national level.

The House of Chiefs of Zambia won the LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP AWARD. Since the introduction of CLTS in Zambia, the House of Chiefs has worked hard to promote access to adequate sanitation and hygiene practices. Its efforts, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, as well as other ministries and partners, contributed immensely to mobilizing communities during CLTS triggering sessions and follow ups. The House of Chiefs has significantly helped UNICEF implement a successful project launched in 2011 and aimed at helping three million people gain access to adequate sanitation. Their involvement has contributed to the unprecedented construction of household latrines and increased installation and usage of handwashing facilities. During the project, chiefs have effectively utilized their influence on their subjects to stimulate behavior change. By the end of 2014, 2.25 million people in 67 districts gained access to adequate sanitation. By 2015, 4,800 villages and 10 chiefdoms were ODF.

About the AfricaSan Awards:

Launched at the AfricaSan conference in 2008 and developed by the African Ministers’ Council on Water, the awards recognize outstanding efforts and achievements in sanitation and hygiene in Africa which result in large-scale, sustainable behavior change and tangible impacts. The aim is to raise the profile of sanitation and hygiene by drawing attention to successful approaches, promoting excellence in leadership, innovation and sanitation and hygiene improvements in Africa.

The awards are open to all individuals and institutions working in the sanitation and hygiene sector across Africa. These include regulatory and oversight bodies, ministries, local governments, civil society, training and research institutions, the private sector, the media and schools.


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

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 improvements, others are still lagging behind. Greater 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 is still mixed. The sub-Saharan region, for example, will not achieve the MDG on sanitation. That said, the 2014 report on the Global Analysis and Assessement of Sanitation and Drinking-Water in Africa indicates that progress has been made in terms of fulfilling commitments in all countries.

Countries listed in the group that has made significant progress include Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe, among others.

Five areas of commitment were selected in eThekwini, enabling countries to create a positive environment and lay the foundations for accelerating access to sanitation services.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

In terms of defining a clear policy, the results are average. In many cases, however, adopting a coherent policy has given fresh momentum to the fight in improving access to sanitation services in the countries. Similarly, implementing monitoring and evaluation systems and tools in the sanitation sector (the second area of commitment) has helped increase the availability of data to support informed decision-making, strategies and allocation of resources to sanitation in several countries.

The review is positive for all countries in Africa for the third area of commitment, namely an annual review of performance in the sanitation sub-sector. The report notes that efforts have also been made by several countries regarding the existence of a primary, transparent institution responsible for managing the national sanitation portfolio (commitment no. 4).

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

In the fifth area of commitment – coordination involving all stakeholders – the score is once again average. Although efforts have been made in several countries, the report indicates that “progress is slow”. In most countries in Africa, such slowness has been observed in the allocation of financial resources and capacity building in implementing hygiene and sanitation programmes.

WSSCC Director Chris Williams and Global Sanitation Fund Director David Shimkus at the opening session of AfricaSan 4. Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

WSSCC Director Chris Williams and Global Sanitation Fund Director David Shimkus at the opening session of AfricaSan 4. Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

But that’s not all. Progress has also been slow in terms of monitoring commitments with regard to programmes for vulnerable groups and taking into account gender-related issues and young people.

In the light of a somewhat mixed but hopeful analysis, the AfricaSan 4 conference in Dakar is expected to make stronger commitments to “Make sanitation for all a reality in Africa” and end the practice of defecating in the open throughout the continent.


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Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM): Possible solutions for breaking taboos

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

By Idrissa Sane

Dismantling the prejudices that surround menstruation is a topic that concerns organizations such as UN Women and WSSCC, which recently organized a panel discussion on the issue. The speakers invited mothers to discuss the matter with their daughters. They also suggested developing persuasive arguments and offering training to teachers. Some believe that school is a useful starting point for launching the debate.

The debate focused on Menstrual Hygiene Management and breaking the silence that surrounds the issue. “There is a problem of communication, based on the usual things. It’s important that we develop a good communications strategy. We need persuasive arguments,” suggested Absa Wade, who is responsible for Gender Equality at the Ministry for Women, Family and Children in Senegal.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

National Assembly member Awa Diagne agreed wholeheartedly, emphasizing the importance of more intense efforts to raise awareness. Schools were a useful starting point. “I think we need to talk about managing menstruation in educational institutions,” she argued. But there is a pre-requisite – namely training teachers – while other speakers believe the debate needs to take place within the family. “In Africa, everything is seen in terms of problems. We need to transform problems into opportunities; we need people to agree to talk and to talk about it,” argued WaterAid Regional Director Marième Dem.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Mr. Ly, Chief of Staff at the Senegalese Ministry of Water and Sanitation, highlighted the importance of the context and reminded the panelists that six African countries will achieve the MDGs linked to sanitation. “Menstruation raises new issues. Whatever the circumstances, it mustn’t be a taboo for the state. We need to work on how we take account of it,” suggested Mr. Ly.

One of the consultants, Mr. Kébé, commented on the drama young girls live through at these times. In some remote areas they are kept apart from their families. “Menstruation is synonymous with isolation, exclusion and a restricted diet. Schools encourage absenteeism amongst girls because they don’t have any girls’ toilets,” he pointed out. According to a recent study in Louga, 36% of those questioned rarely go to school and 68% rarely work in the fields, collect water or gather wood when they are having their period.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

The panelists also discussed the recent publication of two UN Women/WSSCC Joint Programme studies carried out in the Kédougou and Louga regions. These revealed the persistence of taboos around a logical biological fact. According to the study carried out in the Kédougou region, almost two thirds (65.2%) of the female respondents questioned said they had never asked anything at all about menstruation. “Menstruation is taboo in the region; women and girls only ask for help if they are late or their menstrual cycle is disrupted, and they tend to be worried about whether they’re pregnant,” reports a gynaecologist in the region.

In total, 85.6% of the women and girls questioned said that they needed more information about menstruation. It appeared that as soon as they first had their periods, mothers tended to warn their daughters about contact with men rather than giving them the right information: “Generally, the first explanations girls get are about sanitary protection to absorb the blood on the one hand, and the risk of getting pregnant on the other. They forbid their daughters from seeing men to avoid getting pregnant,” according to the study.

Findings from the WSSCC/UN Women Joint Programme study in Kédougou. Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Findings from the WSSCC/UN Women Joint Programme study in Kédougou. Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

The persistence of prejudices has prompted civil society organizations and other bodies to open up the debate on a taboo subject. The speakers are under no illusions, however: attitudes will not be changed overnight. “We are working in West Africa because these subjects are still taboo there. It’s difficult but we have to try to talk about it,” acknowledged WSSCC Director Chris Williams at the end of the discussion.


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“In this room, we have the answers.” – WSSCC/GSF family gathers for global learning and sharing event

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

By Okechukwu Umelo

“The discussion between you can fertilize thinking,” said Chris Williams, Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) at the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) learning and sharing event in Dakar, Senegal. “In this room, we have the answers,” he continued.

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

The event was held as part of various preparation activities for the fourth AfricaSan conference in Dakar. It gathered GSF programme managers and teams from across the globe, as well as WSSCC national coordinators, implementation partners and sanitation and hygiene specialists within the GSF network, to discuss cross-cutting opportunities and challenges related to implementing GSF programmes.

In his address, Mr. Williams stated:

“How can we support countries to get to that next level? Pure exchanges and technological platforms are key. We have a technological challenge as well as a structural challenge to overcome, so that information is available to everybody.”

Highlighting one key added value of WSSCC, he said:

“One of the most beautiful things about WSSCC is that we can surf between NGO and government; we can slide between the two – both as the GSF and as National Coordinators. This is a very powerful strength that we need to utilize. The only way you are going to achieve scale and equity is if you surf between these two areas.”

Activities included a country programme fair, where various GSF-supported programmes set up booths around the meeting room and presented to small groups in 15 minute intervals. David Shimkus, GSF Programme Director, also presented on the GSF objectives, results and outlook.

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Additionally, WSSCC National Coordinators who were participating in a separate workshop at the same time joined GSF colleagues for a session to discuss how the relationship and collaboration between National Coordinators (NCs) and GSF programme teams could be improved.

Strengthening collaboration between NCs and GSF programmes
NCs from Benin, Cambodia, India, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania gave presentations on their activities and experiences.

Wilhelmina Malima, the National Coordinator in Tanzania, said: “WSSCC has country engagement strategies in the countries, so I have clear key issues that link the NC with the GSF. We have specific zonal learning forums where we capture information on the districts GSF is being implemented. In addition, I work closely with UMATA, the GSF programme, on case study development, specifically to develop a protocol for equity integration.”

She continued: “WSSCC is part of the Development Partners Group in Tanzania. Having this seat, the NC has played the role in making sure partners understand the work of the WSSCC and GSF. The NC worked closely with the GSF to organize the first menstrual hygiene management learning forum. With the influence of the NC we managed to get the Member of Parliament who is now the Deputy Minister of Education to drive this agenda.”

Wilhelmina Malima, WSSCC National Coordinator in Tanzania. Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Wilhelmina Malima, WSSCC National Coordinator in Tanzania. Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

The joint meeting between National Coordinators and GSF programme teams ended with small groups writing up and submitting recommendations on how to improve collaboration.

Feedback from participants
Other activities in the afternoon included thematic presentations on open-defecation free sustainability, community-led total sanitation (CLTS) in large villages, hygiene beyond handwashing and sanitation financing.

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Participants had many opportunities to provide comments and feedback.

Daniel Kurao, the GSF Programme Manager in Kenya said:

“For many years we have cried that the profile of sanitation and hygiene is low. But I think the GSF programmes are unique because they have made sanitation and hygiene not a lesser child anymore, but a big child. So it gives us an opportunity to sing a song that has a chorus of sanitation and hygiene in every country.”

Success stories

A delegate from Nigeria referred to how being ODF helped a community contain a case of cholera. Adding to this, Professor Robert Chambers, of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) said: “Of the 80 ODF communities in Liberia, through CLTS, none of them had Ebola.”

The event also included a testimonial from Senior Chief Mwadzama, a local leader from Malawi, who said:

“Before the [GSF-supported] project came we didn’t know anything about using a pit latrine – we were defecating in the bush. Now we are defecating in the toilet because of the hygiene project. When project facilitators were not able to follow up I went on my own using a bicycle to do the follow ups. I encouraged all my followers to make sure they have a pit latrine. Though we have reached ODF status I continue to make sure we maintain it.”

Looking ahead
The event wrapped up with participants writing up recommendations on how to improve GSF programme design, learning and sharing going forward. The inputs will be analyzed by the GSF secretariat team in Geneva and used for the planning of another learning event towards the end of the year.

Mr. Shimkus noted: “We want to make sure our programmes are deeply integrated in supporting national programmes. We don’t want to act as just a project that ends and there’s no continuation. Core to our work is sustainability of behavior change, leaving behind an enabling environment, creating universal access and addressing issues of equity and gender.”

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Noting that the learning and sharing event exceeded expectations, Mr. Shimkus added: “There is a lot of knowledge in this room as we have seen. Sharing and learning is of absolute importance to us, and as the GSF we intend on facilitating that even more.”

Find out more about the Global Sanitation Fund and its country programmes on the WSSCC website.


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Engaging communities in Matam, Senegal

By Alma Felic and Okechukwu Umelo

Last week, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) family, including Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) programme managers and WSSCC National Coordinators, visited rural communities in the region of Matam, Senegal. It was an unprecedented opportunity to engage with communities and hear about their successes and challenges related to water, sanitation and hygiene. Browse through the photos and captions below to learn more.

Achieving ODF status

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Rafael Catalla/WSSCC

The village of Belly Thiowi became open-defecation free (ODF) thanks to efforts led by communities and supported by GSF implementing agencies through behavior change approaches. The first photo shows the situation prior to reaching ODF status – multiple defecation zones are drawn in red between houses and trees. The second photo shows the community after achieving ODF status, with no visible open defecation zones.

Young members of the community are activated to learn and build

IMGP0103

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Mbaye is the leader of a youth group in the village Agnam Goly, a community of 198 households that achieved the open-defecation free status in 2013. After a Community-Led Total Sanitation triggering by the Global Sanitation Fund, Mbaye decided to make the young men in his community active members in the process of achieving full sanitation coverage. During a group training with local masons, Mbaye and his peers acquired the technical skills to build latrines. As a result of their willingness to learn and build, 11 additional households in the village now have access to safe and sustainable sanitation facilities.

Women’s participation

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Rafael Catalla/WSSCC

Throughout the villages we visited in Matam, we found the level of participation of women in improving sanitation and hygiene to be high. Women are driving change and are heavily involved in post-ODF activities through their positions in sanitation committees.

Open-defecation free communities understand the importance of waste management

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

In addition to the understanding the importance of regular handwashing and the sustainable use of sanitation facilities, the Global Sanitation Fund team observed another important effect of the local ODF movement: the great cleanliness of shared community spaces. A particular example of this change in attitude was presented by the community of Sinthiou Garba Gourel Dow, which, in addition to creating sanitation and handwashing facilities for every household, started managing the growing waste problem by dividing up roles in the community and allocating a safe space outside the residential areas where the waste was treated and safely removed.

Community participation

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

Photo: Rafael Catalla/WSSCC

Photo: Okechukwu Umelo/WSSCC

All members of the community, including children and the elderly, have played an active role in helping villages in Matam achieve and maintain ODF status, improving sanitation and hygiene in the process.

Handwashing saves lives – and empowers women to generate income

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Photo: Alma Felic/WSSCC

Seynabou, a young woman living in a community of 137 households triggered by the Global Sanitation Fund in Senegal, is the Chair of the local committee in the village of Wassacode, which celebrated its open-defecation free status in 2014. Through active participation and training in the GSF sanitation programme, the women of the community are making villagers understand the importance of regular handwashing as a simple and efficient practice that prevents the spread of the diarrhoeal disease and other diseases linked to fecal-oral contamination. Today, Seynabou and other women support their village and other communities through the local production of soap, which not only leverages their personal income, but also creates additional resources for the local community fund (Fr: Caisse de solidarité).

Find out all about the Global Sanitation Fund programme in Senegal on the WSSCC website.


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From eThekwini to Ngor: A bumpy road for sanitation

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

By Ralph Mweninguwe in Dakar, Senegal

The road from eThekwini, in South Africa, to Ngor, in Senegal, has been a very rough and bumpy one in as far as improving access to billions of people in Africa is concerned, experts admit.

The eThekwini Declaration was created in 2008, when African Ministers and experts met to commit to improving the sanitation and hygiene in Africa. Since then, little progress has been done.

During the Opening Plenary of the 4th African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene on Tuesday, Senegalese President Macky Sall said that the road from eThekwini has not been in vain. He pointed out that some achievements have been made, but the journey remains bumpy.

President Sall also explained that “as Africa now changes its road map from eThekwini to Ngor, I dont think we will miss another opportunity to have our people fail to have access to improved sanitation.”

“As we come up with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, Africa can no longer afford to miss the goals by 2030,” he said during his inaugural address.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

The eThekwini Declaration includes a number of commitments such as bringing the messages and outcomes made at AfricaSan 2008 to the attention of the African Union as well as establishing, reviewing, updating and adopting national sanitation and hygiene policies. There were a number of further commitments made, including the financing and monitoring of progress of the commitments.

Unfortunately, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector is the least funded of all the sectors in a majority of governments in Africa. This explains why the eThekwini Declaration has failed to meet the desired goals.

The Ngor Declaration, which will be officially released on Wednesday after the African Ministers’ meeting, will likely face the same funding challenges as the eThekwini Declaration, mainly because political will is lacking within the WASH sector.

Bai-Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), explained that the eThekwini Declaration has come to an end with the AfricanSan 4 Conference in Dakar. Taal said that sanitation and hygiene remains a challenge to one third of people in the continent who remain without proper toilet facilities and that there is that there is a need for political will to achieve sanitation for all by 2030.

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Photo: Javier Acebal/WSSCC

Sanitation for All (SWA) Vice-Chair Catarina de Albuquerque said that “although countries have been tracking and monitoring progress on the eThekwini Declaration, there are still a lot of things that need to be done.” During the opening session, de Albuquerque also highlighted that “monitoring and follow-up is important in sanitation and – as a result – putting in place proper sanitation monitoring systems are key.”

It now remains to be seen whether the Ngor Declaration will be translated into actions. Otherwise the road after Dakar will still remain bumpy.