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.
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.
The WASHplus Project, funded by the United States Government via USAID, triggers change in sanitation practices through the community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach with a “plus” component that includes an emphasis on hand washing with soap after using the toilet. In Mali the plus component also signifies supply-side interventions to develop and promote low-cost latrine models appropriate to the unique environmental conditions in each district coupled with training community-based masons to build robust latrines using local materials. To complement the CLTS-driven approach in rural areas, WASHplus is beginning a sanitation marketing activity to engage materials suppliers and local entrepreneurs to market a line of aspirational sanitation products in Mopti’s urban areas. The WASHplus project is led by FHI 360 globally. In Mali, WASHplus activities are implemented through CARE International and two Malian NGOs, YAG-TU and Sahel Eco.
Recently the WASHplus Project in Mali organized public ceremonies to certify Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of three villages in the Mopti Region. These villages, each of which are located in priority areas for USAID’s Feed the Future and Global Health initiatives, were recognized as being the first in their municipality to reach ODF status.
From September 25th to 27th 2014, the USAID/Mali Director Gary Juste, accompanied by the Governor of Mopti Region, and the National Director of Sanitation led certification ceremonies in three villages in the presence of national and regional authorities, the CARE Mali Country Director, as well as local officials and residents from the villages. All three villages reached or exceeded the targeted criteria for certifications. The village of Allaye-Daga built 31 latrines against a target of 28. Wendeguele achieved 150% of their latrine target, and Kanikombole built 28 latrines against a target of 10. Local community leaders, women and youth all recognized the importance of the project and the impact safe disposal of human feces with have on the health and nutritional status of the populations, especially children under five. In the village of Allaye Daga, there was not a single latrine before the project, but now everybody uses latrines and the community has adopted social conventions to deal with noncompliance with ODF standards.
Before WASHplus, the national community-led total sanitation (CLTS) strategy in Mali suggested that implementers avoid areas with difficult soil conditions when applying the subsidy-free approach. Many of the WASHplus target communities, selected because of their high rates of undernutrition (primarily stunting) in children under 5, are located in areas where construction of traditional pit latrines is difficult—rocky, sandy, and flooded areas. To address this constraint, the WASHplus project team, in partnership with other local stakeholders (district technical staff working for the Ministry of Health and local masons), developed innovations for the building of improved latrines in each of these challenging environments. Working through local masons to propagate the innovative construction techniques among communities, this initiative resulted in thousands of latrines being built in areas long seen as off limits for a subsidy-free approach.
UNICEF invited WASHplus to share these experiences with stakeholders during a national workshop on CLTS in September 2014. As a result of the workshop, the national guidelines for CLTS in Mali were revised to include WASHplus’s solutions for building latrines on difficult soils.
In Mali WASHplus uses community-led total sanitation (CLTS) “plus” to spur construction of improved latrines with hand washing stations in 18 communes within three health districts in the Mopti Region. The plus component includes training local masons in advance of triggering to assist households to construct latrines through the promotion of low-cost yet robust latrine models that can withstand the rocky, high water table, or sandy conditions found in participating communities. CLTS triggering is now complete in all 180 communities in the region, resulting in 4,930 public commitments to build latrines. By late March, monitoring visits in 30 of these villages recorded 945 new latrines constructed and 557 rehabilitated, more than 95 percent of which now include hand washing stations. Local masons have begun to cut large sheets of rock into latrine slabs, which fit the Joint Monitoring Programme definition of a hygienic sanitation platform. Latrines are being constructed without the use of cement or any other nonlocal building material. Other local adaptations observed include a machinist’s design of a clever hand washing station made of iron rebar that has separate pedestals for a water dispenser and a washbowl to catch the rinse water.
I’ve spent the last week in the Mopti Region of northern Mali supporting a USAID/WASHplus WASH & Nutrition initiative led by CARE. While behavior change communication related to household- and community-level sanitation, hygiene, and infant nutrition practices is the primary focus of the project, a small sum of funds is dedicated to rehabilitating community water supplies.
The conditions in Mali, as in much of the Sahel, have attracted a plethora of international NGOs, foundations, and do-gooders of every size and intention; increasing access to safe water is a focal point of many of their interventions. The functionality of rural water supplies in Mopti is difficult to ascertain. A number of my colleagues agree that the database of water points maintained by the regional office of the Ministry of Water includes less than 50 percent of the water points existing in the…