World Water Day: Training WASH Service Providers

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.


Under the SPLASH project, area water pump menders received technical and business training during a four day workshop. Trainees put their new knowledge and skills into practice by repairing broken water hand pumps.

A large component of SPLASH’s (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene’s) sustainability plan for infrastructure is to train a cadre of area pump menders (APMs) to rehabilitate, maintain, and repair the water points installed at schools and provide them with the tools they need to conduct the regular maintenance. Training has taken place in all four districts, with a total of 190 APMs trained and certified. Of these, 40 are women. During the five-day training program, APMs learn the intricacies of hand pump repair as well as business skills to enable them to become self-sufficient WASH service providers. SPLASH developed Operations & Maintenance Guidelines, which have been distributed to each school in all four districts, with an orientation session during distribution. The guidelines encourage the schools to engage local APMs to perform regular maintenance, and they include a space to record the contact information for the closest APMs for each school. The program involves mentoring where more experienced APMs helped mentor and supervise the trainees, who are being prepared to go out on their own.

WASHplus Year Five Annual Report, October 2015

WASHplus Year 5 Annual Report.png

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.

Improving the quality of drinking water in schools: students take the initiative

By Armand AGUIDI AMOUSSOU, WASHplus Benin Coordinator, July 2015

Benin_WASH friendly schoolThe Benin peri-urban program has taken a new turn by including schools in its efforts to fosteri mproved hygiene practices. Lack of latrines, drinking water and hygiene is acutely felt by the schools. The 10 schools in the pilot neighborhoods of Enagnon and Agbato showed great enthusiasm and engagement after intensive sessions with ABMS school activities coordinator Victoire Mongbo. Together, they agreed on criteria and terms for becoming a WASH Friendly School, and are now engaged in a WASH Friendly competition. Handwashing with soap and nicely maintained school yards are becoming the norm, however, the need for classroom drinking water containers stirred up controversy as the schools have no money and teachers in the public schools are not allowed to ask parents for financial contributions. Instead, the teachers gave lessons in the importance of safe storage and treatment of drinking water. To her surprise, one enterprising 10 year old, Claudine, proclaimed that the students should contribute to the purchase of containers for their classrooms. The students organized a committee and decided on a level of 25FCFA (pennies) each. Fourteen students promptly contributed. They eventually raised 1, 025F, by using snack money and also asking parents who were more than willing to help. This experience has reinforced the idea that children can be powerful motivators of parents when they themselves are convinced of the right action. WASHplus is also working with the school directors to come up with alternative solutions to school WASH challenges.

Making a SPLASH: Celebrating World Water Day

Poor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) lead to poor health. Poor health keeps kids out of school, and when kids miss class, they can’t learn. Through the Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene (SPLASH) project, FHI 360 and CARE, in partnership with USAID and the Ministry of Education in Zambia, are bringing water, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene (WASH) to classrooms, turning a cycle of poor health, interrupted learning and gender inequity into a cycle of opportunity. SPLASH is a five-year project started in 2011 funded by USAID Zambia to reach more than 240,300 primary school pupils in four districts of the Eastern Province (Chipata, Lundazi, Mambwe and Chadiza). SPLASH aims to improve pupils’ health, learning and performance by increasing their access to safe water and adequate sanitation and improving their hygiene and health practices at school and at home. Join SPLASH in celebrating World Water Day!

PPPHW Applauds The Passage Of The Water For The World Act

The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing lauds the passage of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014. Passed by unanimous consent by the United States Senate on December 15, 2014, the Water for the World Act will improve the U.S. government’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs.

Access to improved WASH undergirds many other vital areas of global health and development—including maternal and newborn health, nutrition, education, and equity for women and girls. As such, the U.S. government’s response to global WASH challenges is particularly important. The Water for the World Act modifies the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act and will strengthen the U.S. government’s WASH programs through ensuring increased collaboration, integration, and monitoring. It will also ensure that countries and regions most in need of improved WASH are specifically targeted for program provision. Notably, the bill also specifically commits to improving hygiene alongside water and sanitation.

“The strong bi-partisan support for the Water for the World Act demonstrates what we already know—that water, sanitation, and hygiene are universal human rights issues, regardless of political persuasion,” says Hanna Woodburn, Deputy Secretariat Director for the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing. “We applaud this meaningful step in the right direction. However, in a world where 1.7 children die from diarrhea annually, girls drop out of school due to an inability to manage their period with dignity, and 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet, it is clear that more must be done. We now call upon the global community to further access to WASH by prioritizing these life-saving services in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”

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Highlights from the University of North Carolina 2014 Water and Health Conference

WASHplus had a significant presence at the UNC Water and Health Conference held in October 2014. Staff participated in or lead panels on topics ranging from the theory and practice of habit formation as it relates to hand washing to HIV and MHM to integrating WASH into nutrition. WASHplus also presented a poster on its approach to collecting, curating, and disseminating WASH sector knowledge and information. Links to WASHplus staff presentations at UNC materials can be found here.

WASHplus Presentations at 2014 UNC Water & Health Conference 

Below are highlights from the conference, compiled by WASHplus. 


Water Systems and Household Water Treatment and Storage 

  • Vestergaard has developed a water filter that may be used by vendors in developing countries to sell treated water to consumers. This unit has a cost of US$310, but they are attempting to have vendors recover the cost by selling water through jerrycan users as well as consumers that may be interested in buying cups of safe water. The jerrycan sales include a jerrycan swap program component which allows water sellers to exchange a consumer-owned jerrycan with one clean one offered by the vendor through this program.
  • Edema Ajomo from the Water Institute at UNC suggested that the following factors influencing the sustainability and scale-up of HWTS programs:
    • User preferences: culture and norms may determine people’s choices (“Black-colored filters are evil because everything that is that color is evil’; “I just cannot stand the smell of chlorinated water”.
    • Integration and collaboration: piggy-back HWTS interventions with other interventions already with known track in the field (‘Add HWTS lecture to a sanitation lecture or promotion activity”) and seek inter-ministerial collaboration
    • Have clear standards, certification and regulation procedures for HWTS
    • Availability of resources: address financial resources needed for consumers to buy promoted HWTS products, but also ensure that there are trained human resources and the necessary supply chain to repair/replace technologies purchased by consumers
  • A study from Bangladesh on POU suggested that direct observation of water treatment in homes may provide a more accurate picture of practices as opposed to chlorine residuals which is considered a more objective measure than self-reports.

Public Financing for Water System Services

IRC, WSUP, and Tremolet Consulting have formed a working group exploring avenues for public financing for WASH services at the local government level. Their work suggests that both taxes and tariffs will need to grow at local governance levels in order to support water services in the long term. The focus of the working group is exploring methods of growing those, or other, revenue streams to finance the life cycle costs of water and sanitation delivery systems.

WSUP is currently conducting research on the role of advocacy at the local level, as well as some experimentation with “sanitation surcharges” attached to municipal water fees in order to cover district government costs of monitoring, enforcing, and supporting sanitation (i.e., a tax that supports the Environment Health Department to conduct its duties).

Water Point Mapping

This was an interesting presentation from the MWA based on their Lazos de Agua work in Central America. They used AKVO-FLOW for a baseline on 1009 households which categorized results into four areas based on the water service level ladder defined by IRC – quantity, quality, accessibility, reliability. The visuals on results were very arresting – for example, you could see what locations scored high on certain dimensions of service but when all four dimensions were considered, few were receiving high levels of water service.

The Global Water Challenge is attempting to compile a global database of all water points (whether collected by govt. NGO, researcher, etc.). They are currently working on a core data set based on what they found to be common denominators.


What To Do with Infant Poo!

Session jointly sponsored by UNICEF, the Water & Sanitation Program of the World Bank, and the USAID/WASHplus Project.

Although the impact of poor sanitation is often measured on children under five, little is known about what happens to the feces OF children under 5. Most sanitation interventions target adults and school aged children.

A reanalysis of DHS/MICS data by UNICEF and the Water & Sanitation Program of the World Bank shows that only 39%-47% of caregivers in 78 low and middle income countries reported using an improved type of feces disposal for their children under five (Null & Reese, 2012 and 2013). Poor, rural and younger children are most at risk for unsafe disposal and its associated impacts.

There are only a few programs focusing on young children’s sanitation, and we have little evidence base for effective strategies for safe disposal of child feces. Significant knowledge gaps must be filled before comprehensive practical evidence-based policy and program guidance will be available. Some organizations and experts are working to fill that gap and have published a number of recommendations and possible methods for incorporating child feces management into existing programs.

The standing room only session at UNC began with a brief overview of the findings from the DHS analysis, and focused on giving an overview of programs and policies by governments and organizations throughout the world which have been implemented to increase the safe management of child feces. Leaders of these programs presented their work in small participatory group discussions. Two sub-sessions focused on the WASH Benefits studies in Kenya and Bangladesh, large RCTs that among other variables are looking at the uptake and impact of several ‘enabling’ technologies for improved infant feces management, technologies like child potties and pooper scoopers to dump open air child feces into the latrine. A third session by the USAID WASHplus project shared the WASHplus experience in Bangladesh, where they are beginning to identify a series of ‘small doable actions’ by age cohort (infant, toddler, young child) to facilitate safe disposal of feces. The last of four sessions focused on the work of WaterShed in Cambodia, also highlighting a range of ‘enabling technologies’ including potties and child-friendly squat mats, to encourage improved infant feces management and document the outcome of these improved practices. WaterShed was successful in improving practices through the use of promotion and enabling technologies.

The final part of the session invited participants to critique a series of recommended actions, organized by categories of increasing demand, improving supply and strengthening the enabling environment. These actions are based on the available evidence base, which though still not comprehensive, allow for pioneering programming to move forward the best practice in this emerging area. Based on participant input, they will be revised and disseminated to guide programming globally.

Confronting the Challenge: Sanitation Behavior Change in Rural North India

Convened by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plus the RICE Institute from Emory

Despite large government and NGO programs, despite substantially increased public spending on sanitation, and despite sustained economic growth, open defecation is declining slowly in rural “Hindi heartland” north India. If the international community is going to stop open defecation by 2030 as advocated by the SDGs under discussion, the preference for open defecation that exists in India will have to be addressed. Widespread resistance to using simple latrines in the rural north Indian plains states is a human development challenge, which others refer to as a crisis, and a serious puzzle: this is an area of the world where open defecation is most common and where high population density most raises the human and economic costs of open defecation. And 80% of rural households in India are believed to practice open defecation.

Evidence is now accumulating from many sources that north Indian states present a unique challenge: what worked in Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa is unlikely to work here. Below are some of the possible explanations why:

Many people prefer defecating in the open, and believe it is healthier and nicer.

  • Many people may be willing to accept a latrine that they can repurpose, but they have little desire to use one.
  • Millions of households have working latrines that some household members use, but others do not. This is not captured in household-level survey data.
  • Rural north Indian villages are deeply socially fragmented. Any approach that depends on villagers coming together as a “community” will likely fail. In Indian English, the word “community” means common caste or religious group, not geographic neighbors.
  • Many people believe that the proper, religiously pure, and socially acceptable place to put feces is far from one’s own house.
  • Open defecation is an accepted part of life. Indeed, for some people, pit latrines are a disgusting notion!

Rural north India is not “just one place” or “merely one part of a big country,” and concern ourselves with other pockets where open defecation remains but is in the process of going away. How can we learn, tinker, and experiment in Northern India? How can we adjust what worked elsewhere to the different context of rural north India? How can we prevent millions of child deaths and stunted bodies and lives?​ The answer may partially lie in being consumer oriented and in getting the consumers’ voice be heard instead of implementing vertical sanitation programs which may fail.

Evidence of the Efficacy, or Lack Thereof, of CLTS

A number of evaluations examining the health impact of CLTS implementation were conducted, all of which suggest limited ability to trace CLTS back to concrete health metrics. Tom Clausen of Emory/LSHTM did a large randomized control trial on WaterAid’s heavily subsidized sanitation work in India as promoted by the Indian government’s Total Sanitation Campaign, and found no significant health impact: no change in diarrhea, anthropometric measurements such as stunting, or intestinal worm infection. The study found that latrines were being used by less than 70% of the community members (perhaps due to the nature of the approach). It was therefore not surprising that the RCT, despite costing 4.2M dollars to complete, did not detect any change in health outcomes. The findings support the notion that sanitation coverage must reach close to 100% in order to reduce pathogen transmission from the environment to the level which results in health impacts.

Amy Pickering of Stanford did a large 2-year trial of UNICEF’s CLTS work in Mali. She found no effect on diarrhea in ODF certified communities, but did find a significant effect on stunting. The difference in their findings may be due to population density, and baseline sanitation status in Mali vs. India. In essence, CLTS impact goes a longer way in Mali, where population density and baseline sanitation is lower.

Why is CLTS Successful?

The UNC Water Institute has conducted a series of studies with PLAN, looking at the enabling factors for successful CLTS, as well as modalities of CLTS that result in greater and sustained ODF certification among communities. Overall, research suggests that CLTS (even combined with sanitation marketing and other approaches) is not an intervention that works everywhere.

CLTS appears most effective in areas where baseline sanitation coverage is low, but has diminishing returns as sanitation coverage is higher/increased. Similarly, while it does create demand for unimproved toilets, it only minimally impacts uptake of improved toilets and returns are diminishing as coverage increases. As such, it may not be the most appropriate intervention in communities that have even 50% latrine coverage. It is increasingly clear that CLTS needs to be considered more dynamic – what are the various modalities of CLTS that we can implement based on the community and environmental factors.


The Theory and Practice of Handwashing Habits, organized by USAID/WASHplus and partners including the Water and Sanitation Program, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap.

This session focused on the seven principles of habit formation, explored how they could be applied to the handwashing arena, and discussed applications where enabling products have been developed and tried as cues to guide practices and habit formation. Potential implications for future handwashing programs were discussed, beyond the mere creation of cues.

Diarrheal disease accounts for 11% of child mortality worldwide. Yet, there is a cost-effective way of reducing diarrheal disease in children under five and in turn reduce child mortality: handwashing with soap at critical junctures, especially among caretakers, grouped into two large categories, before food handling and after contact with fecal matter. Handwashing with soap at such junctures can reduce diarrheal incidence by up to 43%.

Handwashing promotion has been an important part of many WASH interventions and such programs have been able to increase handwashing practices among target populations using a variety of approaches. More recently, these approaches rely on conceptual framework that argue in favor of using psychosocial determinants and emotional appeals. Such frameworks have their origin in reflective psychology which suggests that behavior is volitional and guided by factors internal to the individual.

Handwashing programs constructed on reflective psychology theories and models have proven effective to generate behavior change. However, is there any evidence that they have been useful in helping to maintain the practice overtime? Research on the sustainability of handwashing practices overtime is inconclusive. Yet, interpretations of findings overtime suggests that factors in the context in which individuals behave may be partially responsible for their perdurance.

A couple of studies argue in favor of the presence of water and soap as contributing factors to handwashing sustainability. Such suggestions point in the direction of the science of habits which proposes that factors initiating practices are not the same as those that maintain them. Whereas reflective psychological models may explain the practice of new behaviors, reflexive models offer an explanation for keeping them alive.

ATMS Dispense Drinking Water in New Delhi

India’s population is 1 billion plus and counting. Only a quarter of its people can access drinking water at home or at their premises according to UNICEF. The rest scramble to get drinking water from wherever they can. People, mostly women, line up for hours to collect water for their families. To mitigate this problem, the city of New Delhi, India’s capital, is banking on a new solution – ATMS that dispense water. Are water ATMs the solution for quenching urban India’s thirst?

Video: CNN


Musings from Mopti

Rural Water Supply Network - blog

Well digging - Mali (RWSN/Skat) Well digging – Mali (RWSN/Skat)

by Jonathan Annis, WASHPlus

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…

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