Sanitation professionals from GSF programmes in Benin and Madagascar joined their GSF counterparts in Togo in a workshop held mid-January in the capital, Lomé. Around 70 participants, including EU and Togolese government delegates pooled collective experience in promoting improved sanitation and gained a better understanding of the context, aims and intervention of the Global Sanitation Fund.
The workshop focused on strategies for implementation of community-led total sanitation (CLTS), the central pillar of Global Sanitation Fund-supported programmes, as well efficiencies in the institutional approach. Ideas were exchanged on how best to harness behavior change communications to stimulate communities to end open defecation by building latrines.
The GSF-supported programme in Togo, now into its second year, can benefit from solutions to challenges identified by colleagues in the Madagascar programme, as they have been implementing CLTS for five years. The GSF programme in Benin is currently starting. Each programme is built slightly differently to allow for the local context, so shared experiences can be adapted to fit different institutional and cultural settings, and to align with national priorities.
The multi-country delegation made a site visit to a village striving to end open defecation in the Moyen-Mono district of the Plateaux region to see CLTS in action. The village has committed to end open defection by 4 February and many households have built latrines, with latrine construction in evidence.
GSF finances are given as grants to organizations with expertise in community mobilization in rural areas of Savanes, Kara and 5 districts in the Plateaux region. The programme aims for 1.5 million people to be living in an ODF environment, 1.2 million people using an improved latrine and 1 million people washing their hands with soap or ash.
GSF-supported activities are set to scale-up from strategically identified villages and, together with other sanitation organizations, will contribute to universal coverage of latrines for households across the country. The Government of Togo has pledged for the country to be open-defecation free by 2018.
The GSF-supported programme in Togo is managed by UNICEF for an initial three years, working together with the Hygiene and Sanitation Department of the Ministry of Health. The GSF proposal aims to promote sustainability with a plan to handover the programme to government from 2019.
The Secretary General of the Health Ministry, Prof. Napo-Koura Gado, reminded workshop participants that the project aims to contribute to the reduction of oral-fecal transmission of diseases, particularly in children under the age of five. The Resident Representative of UNICEF, Dr Isselmou Boukhary, thanked the government of Togo for their ownership of the programme and the good collaboration with ministers, members of the Programme Coordinating Committee and national NGOs.
GSF Senior Programme Officer Clara Rudholm underlined the programmes ultimate goal, to get to universal coverage with every household using a latrine and no further open defecation in Togo. Ms Rudholm thanked the efforts of the Programme Coordinating Mechanism in Togo as well as the engagement, support and advocacy of the Ministry of Health.
Ms Rudholm added that the Togo programme is innovative in the aspect of sustainability, with UNICEF appointed as the Executing Agency and progressive transferal to the Ministry of Health. This is the first GSF programme of its kind to tackle sustainability and longevity of the programme in this way.
When WASH practitioners understand the patterns and causes of slippage, they can devise innovative strategies to avoid it.
Global Sanitation Fund programmes are designed to incorporate gender considerations and equity dimensions.
Monitoring slippage should go beyond the numbers to truly understand behaviour change and community dynamics.