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Market-based sanitation in action

March 16th 2021 at 13:23
By: tsegaye

USAID Transform WASH teams up with Government of Ethiopia partners to visit Wore Illu Woreda.

The team visited different sanitation market centers

During a field visit in October 2020, a group from USAID Transform WASH (T/WASH), the Federal Ministry of Health’s Hygiene and Environmental Health Directorate, and the Amhara Region Health Bureau’s Environmental Health Officer gathered to observe T/WASH activities in the Amhara region. This was market-based sanitation in action in the field.

During the visit, we saw toilets built with cement slabs and retrofitted with SATO pans, a self-sealing toilet pan that uses a mechanical and water seal to close off latrines from the external environment. We met the masons who built these toilets, we discussed with sales agents who stimulate the sales of sanitation products, and spoke with families who have benefited from these products. Along with all the successes, we also observed and heard about some challenges from the woreda and community.

Wore Illu Woreda, a local district in the region, has 20 rural and four urban kebeles (subdistricts). The USAID Transform WASH project is operating in 15 kebeles where the required capacity has been built for construction businesses that now offer sanitation products and services. The improved latrine coverage of the woreda is 61%, according to Bekele Tilaye, Wore Illu Woreda’s Hygiene and Sanitation Officer.

Visit to kebeles

For the high-level delegates from national and regional offices, the visit was an opportunity to see and learn more about the implementation of market-based sanitation by the T/WASH project. We observed toilets consisting of a cement slab retrofitted with a SATO pan. These toilets are free from bad smells and flies. Near these toilets was a plastic pot for handwashing filled with water and with soap nearby. The toilets had a corrugated iron roof and door, and the walls were constructed from wood and mud.

In Kebele 09, we talked to several people to learn more about their sanitation experiences. One of them was Habtamu Yimer, a mason. Since October 2019, he has installed 192 concrete slabs constructed with SATO pans. He first constructed his own toilet and then did so for the kebele leaders. Gradually the community heard of his skills and requested him to upgrade their toilets. Mr. Habtamu is always communicating with the Kebele Health Extension Workers and sales agents to follow up on the demand created for improved toilets.

Merima Indris lives in Kebele 09. Last year, as soon as she received information about the SATO pan, she consulted her husband as she wanted one installed in her house. They had been using a toilet with a slab made from wood which was full of flies and smelled terrible. But after Mr. Habtamu built a toilet with a cement slab retrofitted with the SATO pan, their lives improved. Merima showed her two toilet rooms which every family member can use freely. She reported her family’s health has improved.

Beyenech Yimer, a sales agent, visits households to create demand for WASH products and services. She buys SATO pans from Mubarak Ali at a cost price of 180 birr and sells them to households for 200 birr, so she makes a small profit. After informing and persuading households of the benefits of sanitation products, they communicate with a local T/WASH-trained mason who can retrofit a SATO pan into their existing toilet with cement floor. For households that don’t have cement flooring yet, they can cover the extra expense by accessing loans through using a local village saving and loan association (VSLA), if one has been established. VSLAs are an effective demand creation initiative supported by T/WASH, who has established 28 VSLAs in Wore Illu Woreda.

In Segno Gebeya village, a village near Kebele 09, we met with Mubarak Ali, a shop owner and a member of an enterprise selling sanitation products. He sells various kinds of WASH products to sales agents and the community. His sales are improving gradually, and from all available WASH products, the SATO pan is the one he sells the most. He reported selling around 30 SATO pans per month, a significant improvement compared to the initial sales.   

With their improved toilet, Merima Indris and her families are living a better life

Meeting with Wore Illu Woreda District Administration and Woreda WASH Team Members

From the Woreda Health Office, we learned that coordination between their officials and the T/WASH team had led to improvements in market-based sanitation in their woreda. The Woreda Technical Team and the Woreda WASH Steering Committee are regularly monitoring and evaluating the project at both office and field levels. The Kebele WASH Team gets regular support and follow-up from the woreda. There is strong coordination and integration of sectors from the Office of Agriculture of the woreda down to the community. 

So far 1,712 SATO pans, 17 plastic slabs, and 27 SATO stools were installed. 117 plastic handwashing products have been sold. The woreda’s goals for these products have been met fully for plastic slabs and SATO stools. The 1,712 SATO pans are 65% of their goal.

For the construction of latrines, 20 masons have been trained by T/WASH and are providing services. Sales agents are promoting door-to-door with support from HEWs in their community. A total of 13 women sales agents have been trained by T/WASH and are now operating in the area.

In three project kebeles, 28 VSLAs, comprising 332 female members, have been established with the support of T/WASH. The total amount of funds saved by the VSLAs’ members is 92,780 birr.  369 members have taken out loans for the purchase of sanitation products for a total amount of 87,000 birr.

Moving forward in Wore Illu Woreda

Although positive observations were made during the visit such as the strong integration among sector offices and T/WASH which has led to more impactful implementation of the project at the community level, there is also room for some improvements.

In discussing with the woreda, it is recommended that there should be extra effort in promoting products. Scaling up the good achievements in the remaining kebeles should be taken up, particularly improving the number of SATO pans sold. They also want to expand beyond the three focus kebeles.

The SATO pans are valued as they are clean and attractive, but the low height of the toilets is not accessible to people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women, and the toilets with two seats need to have separate doors for privacy.

The woreda still has to work out a provision of finance or support for the destitute who cannot afford improved sanitation products and are not able to contribute to VSLAs to ensure that all have access, and that containment of waste is ensured. The provision of well-maintained public latrines also should be considered to meet total coverage for sanitation.

The Wore Illu Woreda Administration is not content with its performance so far and is planning to work hard on improving market-based sanitation to benefit the community. Inflation of cement and sand prices is a major bottleneck that prevented the woreda from achieving its target in all project kebeles.

This blog was compiled with inputs from Melaku Worku.

About Transform WASH

USAID Transform WASH aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes in Ethiopia by increasing market access to and sustained use of a broader spectrum of affordable WASH products and services, with a substantial focus on sanitation.

Transform WASH achieves this by transforming the market for low-cost quality WASH products and services: stimulating demand at the community level, strengthening supply chains, and improving the enabling environment for a vibrant private market.

USAID Transform WASH is a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, Plan International, and IRC WASH. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.

 

Insights and inputs from WASH stakeholders to district WASH master plans

March 15th 2021 at 06:00
By: tsegaye

Different stakeholder groups from four districts gave inputs to the District WASH master plan to attain SDG 6 by 2030.

''In Mille District, water resources are scarce. Women travel long hours searching for water and the quality of the water is very poor. This has been a big challenge for the community, resulting in various water-borne diseases. To change this situation and build a strong WASH system, we are developing and finalising a WASH SDG Master Plan,'' said Mohammed Eshetu, Water Engineer at Mille District Water, Irrigation and Energy Office. I met Mohammed in a workshop conducted in Afar Region aimed at validating and launching the Mille District WASH SDG Master Plan.

Mohammed acknowledged IRC WASH Ethiopia for providing technical and financial support in developing the master plan which will enable the entire community in the district to have access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services by 2030.

Woba Ari district discussing on the final master plan

IRC WASH Ethiopia, with financial support from USAID Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) has been supporting Mille District in the Afar Region and South Ari, Baka Dawla Ari and Woba Ari Districts in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) to develop their district master plans. IRC WASH Ethiopia, through other projects, is also supporting five other districts in both Amhara and Oromia regions.  Three districts in Amhara Region have completed their plans and begun implementation and the two in Oromia Region are in the final stages of development.

In Afar and SNNPR, the four districts are finalising their plans and have all recently conducted individual workshops to validate and launch their master plans. The current status and targets for community and institutional water, sanitation, and hygiene for each district were presented and discussed with a wider audience of WASH stakeholders.

Water service

The four districts valued the basic contents of the master plans and were ready to go into the plans during the validation and launching workshop. They discussed the expected challenges in carrying out the plan and suggested solutions based on their practical experiences. In Mille District, most participants said that since the community is leading a pastoral life, water access for their livestock should be considered and incorporated into the master plan. They said that their nomadic life would be a challenge for building a resilient WASH system, therefore they recommended incorporating a strategy for villagization into the master plan.

Participants discussed the need for a strategy to evaluate the quality of water scheme construction which should be included in the master plan. They said that water schemes are breaking down mostly because of poor construction which is related to design, equipment, and site selection. This is happening because of weak monitoring and evaluation systems established by the Government.

Fluoride in Mille and turbidity in South Ari are two of the water quality challenges mentioned by the participants. Strategies like using historical data and test wells in site selection, and using different filtration methods, different household water treatments, and safe water storage were raised as issues to be addressed by the master plan. Giving due attention to water resource management is also vital to safeguard water supply sources, according to participants. Afforestation of indigenous plants, delineation of buffer zones around the water schemes, and establishing private, local maintenance and spare part supply enterprises are stated as some of the strategies to reduce non-functionality and ensure the sustainability of water services.

Capacity building trainings for technical staff will be helpful to strengthen the quality of water scheme construction and management, including operation and maintenance. Participants claimed that lack of technical skills is a major hurdle in construction supervision and post-construction support. Therefore, they suggest collaboration with the Ethiopian Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to build the capacity of the technical staff.

Participants emphasised the need to consider community contributions in building and maintaining water schemes. Therefore, having a strategy to empower the economic status of the community and households for better income generation and linking households with loan services are important.

Sanitation and hygiene

The district information in the master plan shows that access to sanitation and hygiene is very low in all districts. Much work is required to upgrade the existing situation and get to improved sanitation and hygiene services. It was agreed that a collaborative effort is needed to improve the situation, for instance, in the absence of water, it is not possible to achieve proper sanitation and hygiene.

Awareness creation is a major activity and health extension workers and religious leaders are expected to play a substantial role in this. Assigning kebele level WASH focal persons, providing kebele level WASH plans, and using government networks such as women development armies are proposed mechanisms to improve the communities' awareness about improved hygiene and sanitation.

In pastoralist communities, implementing Community Led Total Sanitation and Hygiene (CLTSH) is a challenge, because of people’s mobility. In this case, villagization may also be a solution. 

Besides awareness creation and behavioural change activities, households are to build improved sanitation and hygiene facilities. Establishing sanitation marketing centres nearby is therefore essential. Participants believe a market-based sanitation approach will encourage people to move up the hygiene and sanitation ladder. 

Institutional WASH

The master plan assessed the existing situation in the target districts and aims to achieve at least 100% basic institutional WASH services for health care facilities and schools. Institutional WASH has been overlooked previously, and there was no coordination among sectors. For instance, in South Ari District none of the schools have basic sanitation services and basic water services is only at 21%. This shows that there are a lot of challenges ahead and coordination is needed for proper implementation of the plan

According to participants’ previous experiences in selecting sites for constructing of healthcare facilities or schools, the availability of water in the area has not been considered. So accessibility to water should be one of the key recommendations when selecting a site. They also said that institutions should collaborate with the district water offices and even support them by allocating budget to connect institutions to the main water supply since this is the task of the water offices.

In schools, students, teachers, and parents could play a significant role in constructing and maintaining water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities so their role and contributions should be incorporated into the master plan. 

Generally, the discussion in the four SWS districts showed the need for coordination of the WASH stakeholders and dedicated implementation of the master plan. The planning teams in each district captured the comments and suggestions from the discussion and pledged to incorporate and finalise the master plan and then hand it over to the district administration. All district administrators have agreed to closely follow up and implement the master plan and the District Council and cabinet will discuss the master plan and endorse it. They will then begin implementation.

A new effort in responding to COVID-19 in Negelle Arsi and Shashamane

January 12th 2021 at 13:29
By: tsegaye

IRC WASH Ethiopia is supporting Shashamane and Negelle Arsi woredas on knowledge management around COVID-19.

In Hawassa town, both Districts discussed future COVID-19 response activities

In partnership with Amref Health Africa under the WASH First COVID-19 Response Project, IRC WASH Ethiopia is supporting Shashamane and Negelle Arsi woredas on knowledge management. The purpose of the project is to coordinate COVID-19 prevention and control interventions at woreda, zone, region and national levels. The project will assist stakeholders to convene meetings and document learnings and plan review and distribution of relevant information and materials to the frontline health workers and communities. 

On December 21, 2020, the project organised a planning meeting with the participation of project beneficiary woredas and towns in Hawassa. The head of Shashamane Town Health Office, Teshome Mohammed, was one of the participants at the meeting. He said the meeting discussed the future response activities and reached consensus on what action to take. Teshome learned that the project will support them on WASH infrastructure, personal protective equipment, and behavioural change communication. He also indicated working in collaboration with the government is effective.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the public took precautionary measures seriously, but overtime carelessness is creeping in. Therefore, this project is an opportunity for the community, according to Erko Bayicha, Negelle Arsi Woreda's Health Office Public Health Emergency Officer.

Samuel Girma is Amref Health Africa's WASH Project Manager. According to Samuel, Amref has supported the government's COVID-19 response. After reviewing their previous activities as a lead consortium member, Amref has planned for this new WASH First COVID-19 response on behalf of WASH SDG program consortium. He said that the aim of the planning workshop was to create synergy among different sectors working on COVID-19 response and to jointly plan for future responses. Samuel also added that IRC WASH Ethiopia will play a great role in documentation and knowledge management activities which could be used as learning for other actors working on the response.

So far, the project conducted a launching and familiarisation workshop, signed an agreement with regional signatories and prepared a 2021 operation plan. With the proposed knowledge management platform, six stakeholder meetings will be held to review the progress and provide support. The progress review will observe the status of agreed actions, feedback on materials, and adjustment of WASH-related content in response to the pandemic. Consequently, communities, health workers, schools and WASH service providers will have a better understanding of mitigation measures against COVID-19. The project will phase out by November 30, 2021.

Two districts (woredas) validate and launch WASH SDG master plans

January 12th 2021 at 13:10
By: tsegaye

Two Ethiopian districts, Shashamane and Negelle Arsi, are developing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) master plans.

Participants of the workshop listening to Lemessa Mekonta, IRC Ethiopia country director

Shashamane and Negelle Arsi woredas' WASH SDG master plans are being developed with the support of IRC WASH under the WASH SDG Programme. As the planning process nears completion, a validation and launching workshop was held in Hawassa Town from December 22 to 25, 2020. Various zonal and woreda WASH actors participated in the workshop.

The workshop discussed the planning process, the plans, the previous planning experience of the woredas, the reliability of the baseline information, how the plan can be endorsed by the Woreda Councils, and the way forward. Participants of the workshop were content with the discussion and ready to work together to successfully implement the WASH SDG master plans.

The master plans are an opportunity to acquire lots of lessons according to Ali Haji, the Shashamane Woreda Water Office Head. The support provided by IRC WASH and its coordinating efforts to get different WASH sectors on the same page was remarkable, and he said that ‘’this is a good example for other NGOs’’. According to their previous experience, the woreda did not have this kind of platform to collaborate with different stakeholders. He also added that to efficiently implement this master plan, the Woreda Administration will coordinate woreda WASH sector offices and non-governmental organisations to achieve WASH Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The master plan is a great input for the woreda’s Health Office and other stakeholders, according to Kedir Tahir, Head of the Negelle Arsi Woreda Health Office. He stated that the plan is a nice reference for WASH activities of the woreda. From the master plan, Kedir has learned a lot about the WASH status of his woreda and believes it will allow them to perform better in the future.

The master plan has charted out the budget needed for each activity. Teshome Herpasa, Negelle Arsi Woreda’s Finance Office Head, said that it is a great opportunity to build the capacity of their woreda on WASH. To get the budget needed to implement the plan they will collaborate with different governmental and non-governmental organisations and the public.

Samuel Girma, Amref Health Africa’s WASH Project Manager, said as an organisation working on hygiene and sanitation in both rural and urban areas, they will contribute their role, based on the developed SDG master plan. Additionally, as a WASH Alliance member, they will use the master plan to influence donors and get additional funds. He also stated that the master plan is comprehensive and will serve as guidance for future WASH activities.

Overall, the workshop underscored that the master plans should be presented and discussed at the woreda level, there should be an accountability mechanism in implementing the plan, and the woreda administrations should take the lead in implementing the master plan.  It is suggested that annual plans and five year plans should be derived from the master plan.

The next steps of the SDG master plans’ development will be incorporating inputs from participants and endorsement by the Woreda Council. To effectively implement the SDG master plan, it was emphasised that all key actors are responsible to deliver on their roles and responsibilities.

 

Planning for sustainable WASH services in Negelle Arsi and Shashamane woredas

November 18th 2020 at 10:32
By: tsegaye

In order to achieve improved and sustainable WASH services, IRC WASH Ethiopia has been working on Wash Alliance International (WAI) project implementation in supporting Shashamane and Negelle Arsi woredas (districts).  The project is anticipated to enhance effective planning and monitoring, financing to the WASH sector, and develop climate resilient WASH infrastructure, where the challenge of water resources for different demands will also be addressed.

The planning process to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 in the two woredas was started a year ago by training Woreda WASH Experts from WASH sector offices such as the water, health, education, and finance offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a state of emergency restricting travels and gatherings, the planning process was deferred for months. Once the state of emergency was lifted, the planning process continued. Recently, there was a five-day workshop held at Hawassa to finalise the SDG planning process.

The workshop involved the WASH sector planning teams from the two woredas. Foziya Jemal is a WASH focal point at the Negelle Arsi Woreda Health Office. She said that the first training they attended a year ago enabled them to start planning for SDG 6, and after two months the planning teams from the two woredas met at Batu/Zeway town to present their progress. During their meeting at Batu/Zeway, challenges and faults they experienced during the process were discussed. A person from Dera Woreda of Amhara Region shared their experience on the process.  After they returned to their woreda, they kept working on the planning.

Incorporating experts from the finance office allowed the planning teams to understand the available resources of their respective woredas. Jemal Umar is an expert at Shashamane Woreda’s Finance and Economy Cooperation Office. He stated that Shashamane Woreda has very limited resources, therefore, to use the limited resources properly, having a long-term strategic plan is very important. ‘’As water is linked with existence, and the community in water stressed lowland kebeles of our woreda are suffering with shortage of water, we are seriously working on the SDG planning and trying to use this wonderful opportunity,’’ Jemal said.

IRC WASH Ethiopia supporting Negelle Arsi Woreda in SDG planning

IRC WASH Ethiopia has been actively supporting both Woredas in the planning process

Improving access and sustainability of WASH services in the community and institutions in the two woredas is the purpose of the planning. During the planning process, households, schools and health facilities water, sanitation and hygiene gaps were analysed. According to Tirunesh Zerihun,  the Negele Arsi Woreda Education Office Planning Expert, the SDG planning process capacitated them in identifying their water, sanitation, and hygiene  facilities gaps in schools. Currently, they have clear data which portrays the overall WASH status of schools in their woreda and are happy to share the data with anyone coming to their support.

The SDG planning process is in its completion stage. The two woredas identified gaps and planned for new WASH infrastructures, counted their broken WASH infrastructure, and planned for rehabilitation, estimated costs, and identified potential sources of finance, and settled their target for 2030. The strategic plan will be validated with the participation of woreda WASH stakeholders and launched to serve as a road map for WASH intervention in the woredas.

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