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.
A SPLASH staffer displays MHM materials at the end of project event. Hygiene Behavior Change Technician Mayombo Mandevu displays SPLASH menstrual hygiene management products, accomplishments, and stories at the end-of-project event.
WASHplus’s Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene (SPLASH) project ended its four-year program with an event held on August 20 in Lusaka. The half-day event was designed to showcase the different activities that SPLASH carried out to deliver a truly comprehensive school WASH program, what was learned in the process, and most importantly, to advocate for WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) to be adopted nationally by the Ministry of Education (MOE) as a key element of quality education. To this end, SPLASH invited every provincial chief of the MOE to attend, along with a range of stakeholders from the WASH and education sectors. The 80 attendees were divided into groups and made the rounds to eight themed stations designed and manned by SPLASH and Government of Zambia partner staff. Each booth showcased a SPLASH intervention with its key activities, achievements, and lessons learned displayed on a poster. A flurry of publications were finalized for the event, including A Teacher’s Guide to Integrating WASH in Schools, School WASH Facilities Operations and Maintenance Guidelines, and two new stories from the field on integrating WASH into existing government programs and infrastructure and school enrollment.
To respond to the project objective of improving learning outcomes, SPLASH undertook a longitudinal study for three terms in 124 intervention and control schools. Results of this analysis by school term indicate a statistically significant effect of the intervention for all indicators tracked: student absenteeism (roll call and two-week recall), teacher absenteeism, and student-teacher contact time. It shows that WASH improvements in schools can reduce student absenteeism by up to 50 percent.
By Justin Lupele, Chief of Party, USAID ZAMBIA SPLASH PROJECT / WASHplus / FHI 360
This year on May 28, the world commemorates the second Global Menstrual Hygiene Day under the theme “Let’s end the hesitation around menstruation.” The world is being urged to break the silence and talk freely about menstruation as a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health.
Some cultures in Zambia and elsewhere treat menstruation as something negative, shameful, or dirty. It is shrouded in taboo and secrecy. In addition, girls’ rights to education are being violated through inadequate menstrual hygiene education, insufficient water and sanitation facilities, and poor access to sanitary menstrual materials. Menstrual hygiene facilities and services keep girls in school where they can reach their full potential.
Speaking at the inaugural World Menstrual Hygiene Day at Kabulonga Girls Secondary School in Lusaka last year, USAID/Zambia Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems urged Zambians to break the silence, to start the conversation, and follow up with positive action for menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
She observed that taboos on the disposal of used menstrual hygiene products and challenges associated with limited access to disposal facilities make it very difficult for girls and young women to participate freely in academic, economic, and social activities.
Head of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Dr. Jyoti Sanghera of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights observes that “stigma around menstruation and menstrual hygiene is a violation of several human rights, most importantly, of the right to human dignity… and the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment from abuse and violence.”
USAID/Zambia has over the last four years invested about US $20 million in Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene (SPLASH) to support 616 schools in the Eastern Province through the WASHplus project, implemented by FHI 360, CARE, and Winrock International.
SPLASH and the Ministry of Education Science and Vocational Training and Early Education (MESVTEE), in collaboration with other line ministries, provide girl-friendly sanitation facilities and access to menstrual products.
In the last four years, SPLASH and the MESVTEE have built 263 toilets and ventilated improved pit latrines with shower stalls for girls’ MHM. More than 30,000 girls have benefited from these improvements. These features make it possible for adolescent girls to bathe and change their sanitary pads at school with privacy.
A total of 816 teachers (598 males and 218 females) have been trained as advocates for menstrual hygiene education. The trained teachers share their MHM knowledge with other teachers and members of the community in addition to teaching their pupils. SPLASH has also been working with traditional civic and church leaders to break the silence and taboos associated with MHM. Parents and pupils are talking freely about menstrual hygiene.
At school, both girls and boys are involved in making menstrual pads. Educating boys and men helps dispel myths, stigmas, and negative perceptions about menstruation. Bringing them into conversations about menstruation helps to create a supportive environment for girls and women.
After participating in an MHM exhibition at Kanjala Primary School in Chipata District, one boy had this to say, “As a boy, I have a role to play in MHM. These girls are like our sisters so I’ve learnt that I need to treat them with respect. I was also excited to learn how to make a reusable pad.”
SPLASH has also forged partnerships with other nongovernmental organizations and private companies to make commercial and local reusable pads. Two of the organizations that have responded to this call are YASH Pharmaceutical Ltd. and Project Luangwa. YASH Pharmaceutical Ltd has produced an eco-friendly washable pad dubbed the pink pad, which is yet to be launched on the Zambian market. According to Mr. Shiva Shankar, YASH Pharmaceuticals Ltd General Manager, the pads can be washed for over 50 times and it is made of eco-friendly textiles, with minimum leakages.
Project Luangwa, in the Mambwe District of Zambia, has established a pad-making project with 60 sewing machines. The project has employed out-of-school girls and women to produce the sanitary pads. Project Luangwa Director Karen Beattie confirms, “Production of the pads is surging ahead and we have four ladies whom we have trained to sew, a cutter and a manager. The pads are definitely helpful to women, and we hope to record their thoughts for an on-line ad.”
These efforts aim to ease the challenges that adolescent girls face during menstruation. Most of them cannot afford disposal sanitary pads. Some girls miss up to five days a month of learning time due to inadequate sanitation facilities and the lack of sanitary products at school as well as physical discomfort due to menstruation, such as cramps. Others may feel ashamed and embarrassed to go to a school that does not provide menstrual management facilities, and they may simply stop coming to school altogether.
In addition to supporting sanitary pads, SPLASH has produced a number of materials on MHM, including an MHM Toolkit, an MHM brochure, and an MHM success story. SPLASH has also been working with teachers to integrate menstrual hygiene into the curriculum at school, district, and national levels.
WASHplus staff participated in four events at the 2015 Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference. From the WASHplus SPLASH Project in Zambia, Chief of Party Justin Lupele spoke on a panel hosted by the USAID/Zambia education projects on “Why WASH Is an Essential Element of Quality Education.” A poster on the same theme was also displayed. Sarah Fry, WASHplus’ Senior Technical Advisor on WASH in Schools, made a presentation titled “Let’s Talk About It: Safe and Equitable Learning Environments in Zambia,” which focused on SPLASH’s Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) advocacy and activities. Renuka Bery, WASHplus Technical Advisor on WASH & Nutrition Integration, facilitated a workshop on “Clean, Fed & Nurtured,” along with Carol da Silva from FHI 360, and Monica Woldt from the USAID FANTA Project. Participants formed groups to conduct an activity around Identification of Risks and Opportunities in WASH, Nutrition, and Early Childhood Development in the Home and Surrounding Community. The presentation that accompanied the workshop can be viewed here.
At the 2014 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Day celebrations in Zambia, YASH Pharmaceuticals partnered with the WASHplus SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) project, funded by USAID/Zambia, to provide 150 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits for girls at Kabulonga Girl’s Secondary School in Lusaka. The popularity of the reusable pad-making demonstration at the event spurred YASH to undertake its own production of reusable pads.
In January 2015 YASH and SPLASH signed a memorandum of understanding to codify their public-private partnership. YASH will employ local women to sew reusable pads; 10 percent of all pads produced will be distributed to SPLASH intervention schools where SPLASH provides MHM support and education with the goal of keeping more girls in school. Production is underway and the pads are being piloted in SPLASH intervention schools. Comments received from users so far indicate the pads are of high-quality fabric and very comfortable. SPLASH is seeking additional partners to purchase and distribute pads to other schools so the MHM needs of girls are taken care of and they can focus on learning.
WASHplus’ SPLASH project in Zambia recently published a WASH-Friendly training guide geared toward educators, government officials, and communities that are interested in incorporating improved sanitation access, clean drinking water, and hand washing stations and materials to its students and teachers along with a complementary WASH curriculum and MHM. Though geared to the Zambian school context, much of the material is applicable to any low-resource school setting. Read the guide here.
About the Author: Sarah Fry is a Senior Hygiene and School WASH Advisor with the USAID funded WASHplus Project. She manages the USAID-funded SPLASH program in Zambia and an urban hygiene improvement program in Benin.
Creating communities of practice (COP) within SPLASH (the Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Hygiene and Sanitation project implemented through WASHplus) has moved from talk to action, as the “Task 2 – Software” Community of Practice held its first meeting in Chadiza District from 26 to 28 August. I arrived in Zambia on Saturday and was cheerfully informed that we would travel to Chadiza on Monday to attend this meeting. If you look on the map of Zambia, Chadiza is in Eastern Province below Chipata, hugging Mozambique. It took a good 12 hours to arrive there, but what a treat to get to know SPLASH’s latest district. Formerly a true outpost even for Zambia, there are signs that Chadiza is growing and developing. New road grading and construction envelopes the town in dust during this dry season, and it was hot. The hotel we stayed at was paint-not-dry new but had almost all the basics.
The community of practice that gathered from all districts included three SPLASH Hygiene Behavior Change Technicians (HBCTs) with a Ministry of Education (MOE) staff member sitting in for Mayombo from Lundazi District, who was out on maternity leave. The HBCTs were joined by the District Resource Center Coordinators (DRCCs), also from MOE and in charge of rolling out teacher in-service training in the districts. DRCCs have become indispensable members of the SPLASH team as SPLASH has shifted nearly all school WASH training, behavior change and mobilization activities through the existing teacher in service system called SPRINT (School Program for In-service for a Term)of the MOE. This ensures an institutional home for integration of WASH themes in teaching and learning.
To start us off, SPLASH Chief of Party Justin Lupele reviewed what exactly a CoP is (coincidental acronyms!). Then the group launched into presentations by district on what has been accomplished in the software programs associated with SPLASH. Highlights (and there were many!) were the extent to which schools have been supported in becoming WASH friendly through the School-Led Total Sanitation process, how thoroughly WASH teaching and training is being rolled out through the SPRINT system, and how far the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program has advanced in the districts. For example, MHM has been included in district and provincial MOE strategic plans, and many schools are stocking emergency sanitary pads.
But what really inspired everybody was the Chipata team’s account of the first ever MHM Mini Exhibition organized by “Mai” Mapata as Ms. Margaret Mapata is fondly called, James Nyirenda and Emory University intern Kylie Saunders. The exhibition was held for parents, students and teachers from a number of schools around Chipata town, and offered booths with informational displays on the basics of menstruation and on good nutrition during menstruation, MHM themed games and teaching and learning aids with MHM themes. One of the most popular stations was on reusable pad making, and among the most enthusiastic pad makers were…boys! They were thrilled to be fully included and several said that they were eager to show their sisters how to make pads.
After hearing about the success of this event, the others in the COP decided to hold their own. And this is how the three days went – as districts explained how they approached challenges or tried a new way of doing something, the others took note. There was much hallway chatting in the evening as members of the COP questioned each other about how they managed different aspects of the program.
The next days were devoted to highlighting and analyzing successes and challenges encountered in rolling out the hygiene behavior change program, leading to decisions about actions and activities in the upcoming final SPLASH year. A recurring theme to the challenges was how to move from information to action, knowledge to practice. Another was how to build on what has been created, such as pupil WASH clubs and PTA WASH committees, and supporting these entities to becomes truly functional and autonomous. These two themes generated much honest soul-searching and discussion, and a commitment to try out promising strategies with these ends in mind.
The COP workshop was held at the Chadiza Resource Center, a comfortable room with interesting teaching aids and posters all over, located on the grounds of Chadiza Primary and Secondary schools where SPLASH is intervening. As luck would have it, SPLASH was also holding training for Area Pump Menders on the school grounds, where the school pump was conveniently on its last creaky legs. We watched and applauded as the group of new pump menders gathered round and brought the ailing school pump back to life.
At the end of the three days together, there was no doubt that a true Community of Practice had taken root. Now we will sit back and watch as branches and blossoms sprout, and as the connection continue via social media and other channels. WhatsApp, Facebook anyone?
On Wednesday June 4, the WASHplus project celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day at FHI 360 with a special screening of award winning documentary Menstrual Man. The event was sponsored by WASHplus/USAID, CARE, Save the Children, Plan International, WASH Advocates, and FHI 360. Over 100 people came together to celebrate the menstravaganza.
We kicked the menstravaganza off with opening remarks from Sarah Fry, WASH in Schools Technical Advisor for WASHplus. Sarah introduced the partners and sponsors who made the menstravaganza happen.
Sarah also spoke briefly but passionately about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) for keeping girls in school during their menses. MHM is an important component of the SPLASH project which Sarah works on. SPLASH which stands for Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene, recently developed a toolkit “Menstrual Hygiene Management Mini-Toolbox for Teachers and Schools in Zambia” designed to help classroom and guidance teachers in Zambian primary schools who are carrying out menstrual hygiene management (MHM) programs or activities in their school. SPLASH is offering various kinds of support to teachers to help set up MHM programs and facilities to help keep girls and female teachers in school in Zambia.
We topped the evening off with inspiring discussion and dialogue for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global and national policies, programs and projects. Attendees shared stories and learned from others about opportunities to integrate MHM into school, HIV, disability, emergency and workplace settings. We heard about about how to get started and how to “keep it going”… and saw a range of menstrual hygiene products and programs.
Next, we watched the funny, uplifting, inspiring film “Menstrual Man” – about one man’s personal odyssey to make affordable sanitary pads for poor women and girls in India. Inspired by Menstrual Man,viewers posted messages on a word wall, telling us why menstruation matters to them! Attendees also pledged to support and celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day not just on May 28 each year, but every day by advocating for improved menstrual hygiene management for girls and women everywhere.
See photos and videos from the menstravaganza below: