World Water Day: Building Latrines, Providing Livelihoods

In 2011, USAID/Zambia invested $18 million in a four-year WASH in Schools program that covered half the districts of Eastern Province and provided enough resources to meet the sanitation facility, water points, and hygiene education needs of the school population of those districts. These numbered 200,000 students attending more than 400 primary schools. SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) was implemented from 2012-2015. The USAID funded WASHplus project, managed by FHI 360, implemented SPLASH in partnership with CARE.

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Ananias stands outside the double ventilated improved pit latrine that he constructed

Twenty-two year old Ananias Shawa was hired as a helper by a local artisan when the SPLASH project started constructing washrooms and latrines at Chisomo Primary School, near his village in Chipata District in Zambia’s Eastern Province.

As a helper, Ananias learned to mix the concrete and also fetched water. He was a “daka boy,” which in the local language, means “concrete that has been mixed.” He easily met the job’s requirement, which was to be physically fit and willing to work hard. Ananias was not new to such work; he had been earning a living since he had to drop out of school in Grade 7 to help his struggling family.

During a visit to the Chisomo site, an engineer from the SPLASH Chipata District team encouraged Ananias to ask his supervisor, a local artisan and accomplished bricklayer, about learning to lay bricks for washroom construction. He also encouraged Ananias to learn through observation. Ananias followed the advice and was hired to take on the additional task of laying bricks.

He gained valuable knowledge and experience assisting the construction of a double ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine and a washroom. He used his newly gained knowledge, along with technical support from the engineer and a supervisor, and completed construction of a single VIP latrine from scratch. The successful completion and job well done earned him another contract to construct a handwashing facility and a borehole fence.

Ananias earned K 2,650 for this work, an amount he had never earned before. He is grateful to the USAID-funded SPLASH project for the skills he has gained and for the WASH facilities at the local school that serves his community.

Ananias is not standing still; he is now focused on perfecting his construction skills to earn a certificate. And with the additional income he has earned, he is buying fertilizer as the farming season is now underway.

 

WASHplus Year Five Annual Report, October 2015

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In its Year Five Annual Report, WASHplus has stories to tell, results to share, events to celebrate, and studies that add to the evidence base. WASHplus activities serve as the backdrop for many stories: the Zambian school girl who has access to privacy and menstrual supplies when she needs them, the Malian household that can now build an improved latrine on their rocky soil, the mother in Bangladesh who understands the importance of a feces-free environment, the Nepali home breathing cleaner air as it trials an improved cookstove. And perhaps more compelling than the individual stories are the results the project is beginning to record through endline data collection in Kenya and formative research on school enrollment and in Zambia. Providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure to schools is having a notable impact on enrollment. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) may be inoculating communities exposed to cholera. Numbers also tell the story of the project’s impact. Look for a snapshot of those figures throughout the report.

The conclusion of field activities in Uganda and Zambia this year provided opportunities to reflect, celebrate accomplishments through end-of-project (EOP) events, and share lessons learned. Several articles were published this year in peer-reviewed journals and others submitted on topics ranging from consumer preferences and willingness to pay for improved cookstoves to habit formation and costing of handwashing. WASHplus also played a key role in preparing the joint document on WASH and nutrition for publication and distribution.

WASHplus’s focus on integrating WASH into other development initiatives enabled the project to get in on the ground floor on subjects that are gaining traction at USAID and globally, such as WASH and nutrition, neglected tropical diseases, and MHM. This integration focus dovetailed nicely with the project’s mandate to serve a technical leadership role, and project staff had many opportunities this year to share its work and lessons from the field on a global stage, strategize with partners on important advocacy issues, inform policy, and develop guidance in multiple countries. Also toward that end, WASHplus launched its first two learning briefs on small doable actions and WASH and nutrition. This series details the variety of approaches WASHplus uses to improve WASH and household air pollution (HAP) across its portfolio of countries.

And finally, it’s been an exciting year for innovation with pilot projects underway in Ethiopia and Bangladesh focusing on sanitation marketing and sand envelopment. These two efforts will add to WASHplus’s body of knowledge on sanitation innovation and aligns closely with USAID’s global interest on the topic. WASHplus is also documenting its fecal sludge management work in Madagascar to tell the next chapter in that story.

Posters illustrate latrine construction in Mali

The WASHplus Project in Mali developed four posters to illustrate the construction process for latrines it designed for difficult-to-build geographies, such as rocky, sandy, and flood-prone areas.

Mali latrine construction poster

WASHplus will continue its market-based sanitation activities in Mopti. Local builders are currently prototyping latrine models with characteristics identified as preferable during a marketing assessment. A communications firm is implementing a media campaign and marketing strategy for the improved latrine models.

In addition, WASHplus is also working with local implementing partners YAG-TU and Sahel Eco, on Open Defecation Free (ODF) certification of additional villages and implementation of post-certification activities aimed at improving sustainability and minimizing “slippage” after the intervention. WASHplus is also applying the Small Doable Action (SDA) approach to behavior change to improve the adoption of healthy nutrition and hygiene practices among mothers with children under two. The NGO facilitation teams and relais (community health workers) at community level will fine tune the use of WASH-nutrition job aids to negotiate SDA at the household level, the project’s primary mechanism to influence the adoption of healthy practices.