World Water Day: Providing Jobs, Empowering Lives

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.

When 21-year-old Masauso Zimba of Fyofyo village in Lundazi District had to drop out of school for lack of school fees, he was confronted with a grim job outlook. When the SPLASH project began building school latrines nearby, Masauso went to see what was going on, “I kept observing the construction, offered my services, and helped out here and there.”

After two weeks, he was hired to carry materials for the artisans constructing the latrines; all the while he continued to observe what the workers were doing during the construction. Not long after, the project sent out engineers to teach skills in basic construction.

 

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On-the-job training with SPLASH inspired Masauso to pursue an engineering degree

“I signed up and was trained. Now, I have building skills. And I have made enough money to go back to school where I want to study engineering and supervise artisans. I am so grateful to SPLASH and USAID for bringing a flicker of light in my dark tunnel.”

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.

Nepal: Clean Cookstove Demo

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People view improved cookstoves at an outdoor marketplace. 

As part of its cookstove study in Nepal, WASHplus is conducting clean cookstove demonstrations in Tanahu and Kavre districts. The demonstrations include food preparation of daal and rice, two local staples, and have attracted a lot of people eager to learn more. The in-home trials of five different types of improved stoves started in 140 homes in Nawalparasi and Dang districts in June, and will be completed this month. Families are trialing only one of the five stoves but will have the opportunity to purchase any of the five at the end of the trial: Prakti Double Burner Wood Stove with Chimney, Eco-Chula XXL, Alternative Energy Promotion Center-promoted local chimney stove, Xunda Field Dragon, and the Greenway Jumbo. The willingness to pay assessment includes a lump sum payment option, as well as an installment plan offered through a local microfinance institution.

World Toilet Day = Systems Day = Nutrition Day

By Ron Clemmer, Strategy and Business Development Manager, WASH, FHI 360.

World Toilet Day is about more than toilets! It is about the whole system of the sanitation chain. This whole “system” of household latrines; school and health facility toilets; septage haulers; wastewater and septage treatment, reuse and disposal, has become more and more a focus of international development professionals. As with development practitioners in other sectors, we work in complex social systems that require organizational change, behavioral change, and personal change for transformative social change to result in sustainable impact. A systems lens helps us to see our roles in development programs to understand the impact that is needed in the big picture of the “system.”

FHI 360’s 2015 Challenge Conference Deepening Systemic Engagement addressed an important question for systems thinking: “How do we as practitioners and change agents unify systems theory and practice to bring forth healthy and inclusive human development?”

FHI 360 brought together speakers who are leaders in the area of systems thinking and also practitioners who are implementing a systems approach for international development for the Challenge Conference. The keynote speaker was Otto Scharmer from the MIT Sloan School of Management, who with Katrin Kaufer co-authored, Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies.

Being the pragmatic engineer that I am, some of the presentations that peaked my interest the most were from FHI 360 colleagues discussing the application of systems approaches in their development programs. A systems approach that FHI 360 staff has developed in conjunction with USAID is SCALE (System-wide Collaborative Action for Livelihoods and Environment). Ten years of learning through the implementation of the SCALE systems methodology to accelerate broad stakeholder engagement in sustained collaborative action to address a complex development issues has now resulted in FHI 360’s development of SCALE+.

If you want to explore more of Deepening Systemic Engagement, the Challenge Conference highlight videos and materials can be found here.

World Toilet Day is also about more than toilets because of the significant impact of good sanitation on maternal and child health, neglected tropical diseases, HIV/AIDS, education, and nutrition. World Toilet Day has a special linkage to nutrition this year, and 2015 World Toilet Day was chosen as the day that WHO/UNICEF/USAID are releasing the important publication Improving Nutrition Outcomes through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Practical Solutions for Policies and Programmes. My FHI 360 WASHplus colleagues managed the development of this publication in collaboration with the publishing agencies. And the integrated activities in different countries implemented by WASHplus and its partners are contributing practical knowledge and tools that will help guide WASH-nutrition integration in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ron Clemmer joined FHI 360 in May 2015 after working with World Vision as Senior Technical Advisor for WASH for six years. Ron is passionate about building sustainable water and sanitation services through the public and private sectors, hygiene behavior change that becomes habit, and integrated programming of WASH with nutrition, HIV, neglected tropical diseases, education, and women’s empowerment.

Sarah Fry – What Does WASH in Schools Have to Do with Building Bridges?

by Sarah Fry, SPLASH WASHplus Project, August 2015.

That’s literally, not figuratively, building bridges. Two weeks ago I would not have been able to even understand that question, but today I have a story to share with you. First of all, hello from Zambia. As the WASHplus activity manager for the USAID funded activity called SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene), I have been here since early July working with our team to see this activity to its end on September 30th.

The author on the road in Chadiza District
The author on the road in Chadiza District

SPLASH began in early 2012, and since then has built over 3,000 school toilets, drilled, equipped or rehabilitated over 400 water points for schools, provided permanent handwashing and drinking water stations, and worked with teachers, the national government and local government to ensure that good hygiene practices and stronger systems for operating and maintaining school WASH facilities are put in place, and will stay in place. These activities have taken place in Zambia’s Eastern Province.

Before SPLASH started, Chief of Party Justin Lupele and I went on a “Road Show” out to the districts, where we introduced SPLASH to the government officials and local committees and started to build ownership and participation. The last three years have been a whirlwind of activity – construction, training, community mobilizing, monitoring, publicizing, documenting. Justin and I thought that as the project nears its end, it would be good to go on another grand tour to get a solid sense of what has happened, what has changed, and maybe, what does it all mean. The only requirement we set was to not alert any schools that we were coming to visit.

Zambia is a vast, not densely populated country. Visiting schools requires spending a lot of time in vehicles riding on rough and dusty country roads. These distances impressed upon me how much staff and building contractor time and effort it took to reach the schools to carry out SPLASH activities. Bumping along, I had a chance to think and look forward to what we would find. I certainly expected to see positive changes and improvements at SPLASH schools. However, nothing prepared me for the sea of change that unfolded before us as we made our way to about 20 schools, mostly rural, but a few urban ones as well.

A school in Chipata
A school in Chipata

In 2012, we heard many complaints from schools about how communities were misusing their boreholes and denying any responsibility when they broke down. Now, every school has active WASH committee and pupil WASH Club and all are engaged in some form of joint school-community fundraising for maintenance and repair of the borehole. Handwashing after toilet use and before eating was a nearly universal practice by pupils, a habit acquired even if group handwashing hadn’t been inaugurated yet.

A major achievement was the presence of soap at almost all handwashing stations – stealing soap is a thing of the past, we were told, because pupils want and like to wash their hands. Through the WASH Clubs peer education, they feel that the stations and the soap belong to them. Going beyond peer education, some WASH Clubs are visiting local health centers and performing hygiene skits and poems for women gathered for pre-natal and under-five clinics. In addition, Teachers were delighted with drinking water stations close to the classrooms because time away from lessons was reduced.

Possibly the biggest change was the universal acceptance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) as a necessary and welcome part of the school program. Zambia, like many African countries, has taboos, myths and restrictions around menstruation, which is almost never discussed openly. Facilities and support for menstruating girls in schools is nearly absent, causing girls to stay home and miss weeks of lessons during the school year. Girls at SPLASH schools were thrilled with their beautiful washrooms –shower/toilet structures built to accommodate MHM.

However, no one had anticipated the envy of the boys, who are now demanding their own washrooms to clean up after sports. MHM has entered into the vocabulary and into the culture, to the point where one WASH Committee was holding pad making parties for the girls, but then headed out into the community to distribute them to women in need. The taboos around menstruation seem to have melted away.

While the news from schools is very good– and we will soon be able to quantify what kind of effect SPLASH had on the schools the – we encountered even more good news during this visit, outcomes that I can only call “unexpected consequences” of WASH in schools, and that frankly, I was unprepared for. The big apparent message is that WASH in schools can lift an entire community up and can bring about changes that were previously not possible.

Launching SPLASH with School Led Total Sanitation “triggering” shifted social norms in surrounding communities around open defecation practices to such a degree that we heard of headmen ordering all households to build latrines or pay a fine! Over a thousand household latrines have been built as a result.

In one school receiving a water point, a new classroom block was built where previously there was only a thatched shelter. Teachers’ houses have gone up, and a new water source at another school enabled a clinic to be built nearby.

Classroom before SPLASH in Mambwe District
Classroom before SPLASH in Mambwe District

Every single school stocked soap and toilet paper – a miracle right there – and consequently local shops were seeing a rise in sales of hygiene products. Some schools have a “one child one bottle” policy, leading local businesses to stock up on drinks to satisfy the demand for bottles.

One of the best “unexpected outcome” is the engagement of artisans in building the latrines and washrooms, and who, in the process, have gained marketable skills.

They have found work on road crews (may the work be speeded up!) and other local construction projects and in one case were solicited by a health center next to a school that has decided to build an exact replica of a SPLASH toilet.

New classroom block built after SPLASH provided access to a new water source
New classroom block built after SPLASH provided access to a new water source

Leading the parade of successful new entrepreneurs is the ex-SPLASH artisan who proved so competent that once the latrine construction was done, he was hired to oversee the building of a new bridge. And that’s what WASH in schools and building bridges have in common!