By George Nyairo Obanyi, FHI 360
The USAID-funded WASHplus project ended its four years in Kenya with an experience-sharing workshop for key stakeholders held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014.
Representatives from USAID, government, other partners and community members converged for the one-day event during which the project showcased its achievements through plenary presentations, video shows and a photo gallery.
Kenya is one of seven countries where the WASHplus project works with partners to create supportive environments for healthy households and communities by creating and delivering interventions that lead to improvements in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and household air pollution.
In Kenya, the project partnered with the Ministry of Health to strengthen the capacity in public and private sectors as well as communities to implement sustainable WASH interventions.
WASHplus introduced and successfully promoted the small doable action (SDAs) concept, which has been accepted by government and other WASH actors to encourage hand washing, use of latrines, menstrual hygiene management and water treatment and safe storage.
Another key WASHplus achievement was its pioneering role in promoting inclusive sanitation approaches under an innovative, value-added community-led total sanitation (CLTSplus) approach to promote open defecation free (ODF) communties, which was successfully piloted in two rural counties and one urban site.
In its role as a national mechanism, the project helped to develop policies and training guides including a training curriculum for WASH-HIV integration and a module for training community volunteers.
Other notable achievements include:
- Over 650 trainers from government and 8,000 CHWs trained on WASH-HIV integration and inclusive sanitation through Community Strategy
- Improving access to sanitary pads for girls and women in communities
- Community volunteers and leaders trained to help make supportive devices for individuals with disabilities
Interventions initiated and supported by WASHplus have now been transitioned to the government and other USAID-supported health projects.
Speaking at the experience-sharing workshop, the Deputy Director for Public Health at Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Dr. John Kariuki, said the WASHplus program had made strategic contributions to improving WASH interventions in the country.
“County legislators should now invest money to continue the process,” he said. “As we have worked with WASHplus, we will as a Ministry continue to give policy direction and guidelines to the counties.”
Said Dr. Kariuki: “The biggest lesson is about equity and sanitation. We cannot talk about a county being ODF if the people who are disabled or the old people are not using latrines. They are Kenyans and have a right to sanitation.”
The official urged stakeholders to lobby county governments to allocate funds for WASH activities: “It does not happen automatically. You must be proactive, not wait for thing to happen.”
Representatives of organizations that partnered with WASHplus also praised the project for helping to shape the WASH interventions. Charles Ngira of the NGO Plan International said: “We should be talking of inclusive CLTS, not just CLTS. This model will totally solve our sanitation problem.”
Dr. Kariuki called for integrated CLTS programs that promote practices such as hand washing, menstrual hygiene management, the work of traditional birth attendants and air pollution, among other aspects.
“Let’s use CLTS as a vehicle to ensure we improve the health of our people,” he said.
“Sanitation has improved but we need to address equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Mores Loopapit, deputy project director of the USAID-funded APHIAplus Imarisha. “There is need to consider health outcomes in studies on access to hygiene and sanitation.”
Simon Makori, associate director of APHIAplus Nuru ya Bonde, urged stakeholders to support community health volunteers because they play a critical role on promoting WASH practices.
“Community health workers should be engaged in income-generating activities for sustainability,” he said.
For more information about the project, visit the WASHplus Kenya page: http://www.washplus.org/countries/kenya