WASHplus presents at CIES 2015

Lets Talk About It

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.

Zambia—Public-Private Pad-Making Partnership


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. Zambia_ Pad making

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.

WASH-Friendly Schools Guide


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.

Communities of Practice are a SPLASH Best Practice!

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by Sarah Fry

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 SPLASH Chadiza team l to r: •Chimunya Hambote, SPLASH district coordinator and engineer •Boas Banda, DEBS Chipata •Oscar Zulu, Asst DRCC, Chadiza •Boyd Hakubeja, SPLASH HBCT, Chadiza
The SPLASH Chadiza team l to r: Chimunya Hambote, SPLASH district coordinator and engineer; Boas Banda, DEBS Chipata; Oscar Zulu, Asst DRCC, Chadiza • Boyd Hakubeja, SPLASH HBCT, Chadiza

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.

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Chief of Party Justin Lupele walking the group through “What is a Community of Practice”

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.

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Mrs. Margaret “Mai” Mapata, DRCC/Chipata and queen of MHM and fun learning and teaching activities

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?

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Chadiza Area Pump Menders training, Chadiza Primary School
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Female APM during training, Chadiza
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The SPLASH “Software” Community of Practice, l to r: • Davison Phiri, DRCC Mambwe • Boyd Hakubeja, HBCT/Chadiza • Febby Busika, SPLASH Regional Director • Justin Lupele, SPLASH Chief of Party • Doris Kanyerere, SPLASH Provincial Finance Officer and WASH in school champion • James Nyirenda, HBCT/Chipata and Mr. MHM • Abigail Changaya, DRCC/Lundazi • Musenga, SPLASH administrative assistant and driver • Romakala Banda, HBCT/Mambwe • Margaret “Mai” Mapata, RDCC/Chipata • Oscar Zulu, Assistant DRCC/Chadiza

Falling in Love All Over Again

“Life in rural Zambia is unbearable.” This is the story that is always heard among newly trained teachers who are posted in rural areas. This reaction is due to the perception that rural schools have poor or inadequate water and sanitation facilities. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fwankila, teachers at Chamsebe Primary School who have been married for two years, have a different story. When they were first posted at this school in the Lundazi District in late 2013, they did not know what to expect because they have spent most of their time in urban Lusaka.

When they arrived at the school, Mrs. Fwankila was surprised but relieved to hear that their official house was almost completed. The second thing she asked to see was the latrine, which according to her is very important and critical to her stay at the school. Each time she goes to a new place the first thing she looks out for is a toilet because she values clean facilities coupled with availability of safe and clean water. “I also love my family too much to expose them to unhygienic environments,” she said.

She sighed with relief when she saw a row of ventilated improved pit latrines. She later learned that the latrines were constructed by SPLASH, a USAID-supported project.

“I want to applaud USAID/SPLASH for the great work that they are doing. They have made my stay in Lundazi easy and very comfortable because of their facilities. I don’t complain about drinking contaminated water because of the water pump, which is available. Because of this I am always revitalized and energized to carry out my duties in the school because I have clean water, a clean latrine, and I know that even the pupils that I teach are well taken care of. This has helped me to spend more time in school thus increasing contact time between me and the pupils,” she says. The new facilities have contributed to helping young girls who have reached puberty to stay in school throughout the term, a phenomena that is unheard of in other schools.

Mrs. Fwankila explains, “The availability of water and sanitation facilities has made me not to see any big difference between rural and urban areas. My husband and I don’t even miss living in the city. We are much happier and spend a lot of time together. We will forever remain grateful to USAID /SPLASH facilities.”

Mr. Fwankila was quick to add, “My wife and I have fallen in love all over again because we have much more time to spend together. We don’t have to go long distances looking for water. SPLASH has brought clean and safe water right at our doorstep. We have a clean house, a backyard garden, and we love our new community.”

USAID/SPLASH continues to impact schools and communities in eastern Zambia by building latrines and installing boreholes, water tanks, drinking water, and hand washing stations, making sure that hygiene is a regular practice. The project has provided WASH facilities in 337 schools and its program has reached over 260,000 children.

Laying the framework for water and sanitation sustainability


WASHplus\FHI360 and CARE/Zambia are implementing a 4-year USAID-funded initiative targeting primary schools in the Eastern Province called SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene).  Working alongside local government ministries, this project aims to bring clean drinking water, child and gender-friendly latrines, hand washing stations and hygiene education to rural schools across four districts of the Eastern Province of Zambia.

As a WASH consultant over the summer, my primary task was to work with the SPLASH staff to develop tools for the operation and maintenance of implemented infrastructure. Sustaining water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) resources at these schools after the life of this project, is a key component of this initiative. My time in Zambia has been split between working out of the SPLASH offices in Lusaka and Chipata, with school visits sprinkled throughout the span of two months. Working with the FHI360/CARE staff and officials from the Ministry of Education has been a unique and enjoyable learning experience.

Effective monitoring is one of the biggest challenges in the water and sanitation sector, with over 40% of infrastructure failing within five years of implementation. Crucial to infrastructure sustainability is developing a mechanism for school and district level officials to routinely monitor and report on the functionality of water points and latrines constructed during the project. Using a tool called TextIt, I developed a mobile-based survey through which schools can directly relate information about the functionality of WASH infrastructure. Using any cell phone that sends text messages, rural communities can access this service, allowing for timely, accurate and transparent monitoring of services. Once this data is reported, it is automatically analyzed using a tool called Water Point Mapperwhich produces a map displaying the various infrastructure across the area of operation, and up-to-date information about each WASH facility.

Phone WaterPoint Mapper Screenshot

The use of mobile-based reporting bypasses paper-based surveys conducted periodically by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Local Government and Housing. Conducting paper-based surveys is an expensive and time-intensive process, requiring staff to travel to rural communities, over roads that are often impassible during the rainy season. On the other hand, mobile-based surveys can be initiated at the instance of infrastructure failure and significantly reduces human error. However, the use of mobile phones to access these services requires communities to bear the cost of sending text messages. These costs are considerably lower than the cost of transportation and salaries of surveyors and data entry staff. Moreover, cell phone credit can be transferred from the accounts of government ministries directly to these communities, so as not to pass the cost onto the users. There is also potential for private sector partnerships with cell service provides within Zambia.

Once the map of WASH infrasructure is generated, it will be accessible to staff at government ministries, project implementing organizations, funding agencies and members of community WASH committees. Engagement of all these stakeholders is vital for the sustainability of infrastructure and services. Working in unison, they will be able to report and address any issues that may arise with the implemented water system, latrines, handwashing stations, menstrual hygiene facilities and drinking water points. These tools will also aid organizations to efficiently allocate resources, recognize trends in performance and service levels and have a visual, easy-to-understand representation of project progress. The use of WASH mapping all allow monitoring organizations to easily detect points of failure in service delivery and generate user-friendly reports for funders and partners. Through this structure of reciprocal monitoring where communities can directly communicate with the project implementer, communities are encouraged to take ownership of their water and sanitation resources, and play an active stake in operation and maintenance.

During my last week at SPLASH, I presented these WASH monitoring tools to representatives from USAID, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government and Housing, FHI360, CARE and other NGOs working in this sector in Zambia. The various entities called for adoption of these monitoring tools and increased cooperation for WASH sustainability. In the coming months, SPLASH will implement these tools in conjunction with the Ministry of Education in the schools in the Eastern Province where SPLASH is currently working.


Working with the SPLASH team in Zambia has been an incredibly fulfilling experience and has solidified my passion for working in the WASH sector. I have learned a lot about the challenges that organizations face in sustaining implemented infrastructure, and strategies used to overcome these challenges. Working with SPLASH has allowed me the opportunity to innovate and create novel technologies to ensure WASH sustainability. I am excited to see how these tools are implemented in the field over the coming months and whether they are effective over the coming years.

While not in office or the field, I have had the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Zambia at its many wildlife reserves. From visiting elephant orphanages, helicopter rides over the Victoria Falls, and bungee jumping, my time here in Zambia has been exhilarating to say the least.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of USAID or the U.S. Government.

Meet Dr. Justin Lupele

lupele_justin_2013_200x220My name is Justin Lupele. I am the Chief of Party of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project in Zambia called SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievements through Sanitation and Hygiene). SPLASH is implemented through the USAID-funded WASHplus project.

SPLASH’s overall objective is to sustainably improve access to safe water, adequate sanitation, hygiene information and health practices to improve learning environments and educational performance in Zambian primary schools.

Education quality is generally seen in terms of provision of books, teacher deployment, ICT, mobile technology, classroom construction, and learner test score performance, among others. But just as critical (if not more so!) is access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure. If clean drinking water, hygienic toilets, and places for hygiene practices such handwashing are absent in a school – we cannot talk about quality education.

Gender parity – equal enrolment for girls and boys – is a step towards the Education For All (EFA) goal of full gender equality in education. Gender equality includes making sure the school environment is safe, has good infrastructure such as separate latrines for girls and boys as well as menstrual hygiene management facilities for girls. When these are lacking, learners underperform, and girls may cease attending school altogether.

Unfortunately, ministries of education in most African countries often feel that WASH is better left to engineers. The WASH sector assumes that the MOE is providing WASH in schools.  Sadly, this pillar of quality education is often neglected. A survey by UNICEF found that in 41 priority countries, fewer than 50% of schools had adequate water and sanitation.

SPLASH and other MOE partners are committed to provide equity of access to quality education.  The project works in 616 schools in Eastern Province of Zambia to improve WASH facilities such as boreholes and latrines (with washrooms in girls’ latrines).

The SPLASH project also provides a comprehensive hygiene improvement program focusing on healthy habits such as treating drinking water and hand washing with soap. Key activities related to the subject of discussion this afternoon include:

  • Constructing and rehabilitating school WASH facilities such as boreholes for safe clean water, toilets and pit latrine;
  • Introducing enabling technologies for good hygiene habit formation e.g. handwashing facilities;
  • Inclusion of washrooms in girls toilets for the purposes for menstrual hygiene management so that girls are kept longer in school once they attain puberty; and
  • Assuring a sustainable operations and maintenance system for the built facilities within existing Government of Zambia institutions and community structures.

Opportunities to learn

Investing in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in schools improves learners’ opportunities to learn. This is translated into:

  • Improved teacher pupil contact time. Teachers and learners spend more time on the pedagogical processes of teaching and learning due to reduced illness and absenteeism;
  • Improved attendance – anecdotal evidence from our work shows that attendance is improving in schools were SPLASH has intervened; and
  • Teacher/learner attendance (girls and females), and retention.

Teachers are reluctant to work in underserved and remote rural areas, which lack basic facilities such as water and sanitation, electricity, good housing and health care.

  • Improved pupil enrolment – from our work we have seen that enrolment numbers are increasing in schools with better WASH; and 
  • Increased  days available for instruction especially for adolescent girls.

In order to achieve its objectives SPLASH works with a number of government, private partners and local communities around the schools. Local communities’ contributions in kind and financial terms add up to 35% of the total cost of the construction of sanitation infrastructure.

We cannot talk about quality of education in a school without water, sanitation and hygiene even if such a school had all the necessary text books and technology.

Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day in Zambia

Pad making materials and the MHM Toolbox on display at Menstrual Hygiene Day in Lusaka.

On May 28, the SPLASH (Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene) project celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day at Kabulonga Girls’ Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia, where private sector donors Yash Pharmaceuticals and Pharmanova Zambia distributed menstrual hygiene kits to 125 pupils, consisting of sanitary pads and cleaning products.

USAID/Zambia’s Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems provided the event keynote address and told girls in the audience, “I hope you view your monthly period as an expression of your womanhood and your special gift in bearing future life. I hope you take your menstruation in stride as a normal part of life. I hope you do not use it as an excuse to avoid your studies or other duties. In short, I hope you show up for life and love your life as a woman.”

More photos from the MH Celebration in Zambia can be viewed here.


Menstrual Hygiene Management Mini-Toolbox for Teachers and Schools in Zambia

MHM toolbox

Menstrual Hygiene Management or MHM is an important component of a “WASH Friendly School”. As it is a new concept in schools, the SPLASH project 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. SPLASH stands for Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene. SPLASH recently developed a toolkit “Menstrual Hygiene Management Mini-Toolbox for Teachers and Schools in Zambia” designed to help classroom and guidance teachers, SHN coordinators, and other school personnel in Zambian primary schools who are carrying out menstrual hygiene management (MHM) programs or activities in their school. It contains a set of basic documents such as a checklist for schools, a visual aid of the female reproductive system that can be used for teaching pupils or other teachers about the science of menstruation, and sanitary towel (pad) patterns that could be easily made by girls themselves. As MHM gets more established in schools, more and better tools will be developed and added to the toolkit (which should be considered a “work in progress”).


Celebrate Solutions: WASH Helps Girls Learn in Zambia

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By Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver. This blog post first appeared on the Women Deliver website.

There is a clear link between a girl’s access quality education and her ability to live a healthier, more productive life. We also know that one of the major reasons why girls drop out of school is that they lack of access to sanitary facilities and supplies. Without access to basic menstrual supplies and sanitation, girls’ health and educational opportunities are marginalized. The long-term consequences of this preventable reality for girls create a ripple effect among their communities and, collectively, the global economy.

Clean water, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene require appropriate facilities and an awareness of good practices, and FHI360 and CARE are making this happen in Zambia through their Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Sanitation and Hygiene (SPLASH) partnership. CARE International supports the construction of boreholes and sanitation facilities, while FHI 360 supports teacher training and curriculum development. Local ministries, nongovernmental organizations and communities take it from there.

SPLASH is a five-year project started in 2011 funded by USAID Zambia to reach more than 240,300 primary school pupils in three 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. SPLASH is implemented by the global environmental health projectWASHplus, which is led by FHI 360 in partnership with CARE and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To date 62 committees have been formed, whose members include pupils, parents, and teachers tasked with ensuring that WASH in Schools in achieved and sustained. WASHplus has rolled out training for 37 of the committees thus far. Participants learn of the committee’s roles and responsibilities, the importance of WASH in Schools, and how to operate and maintain school WASH facilities. The committees are encouraged to put in place small doable actions to improve hygiene and sanitation in their schools and neighboring communities.

Solomon Mwanza, Head Teacher for Yosefe basic school in Lundazi, describes the barriers for girls in his school. “In terms of our senior girls and the girls in general, we introduced a washroom. Because before that, what we had noticed is that most of our senior girls, when they are passing through the menstrual process, they could be away from school. So attendance, performance could be affected.”

The solution in Yosefe School was simple: create a washroom for girls of all ages, so that girls who were menstruating are not stigmatized, and stock the toilet with proper supplies like soap, sanitary pads, and other necessary toiletries. Clean, safe sanitation facilitates help to keep girls in school, and community-based solutions help make that happen through programs like SPLASH.

To learn more about FHI360’s Let Kids Learn project, click here.