Boosting behaviour change: benefits from cross-country learning

Date: 16th March 2016

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Two staff members from the GSF-supported programme in Nigeria describe how learning from colleagues in Uganda has boosted their work

“Now I find myself constantly thinking about ‘shit’!” admits Felicity Ekpata as she describes her new role with the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) programme. RUSHPIN is funded by WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF).

Felicity Ekpata with a latrine owner in Abi LGA, Cross River State. Credit: RUSHPIN/Nanpet Chuktu

Felicity Ekpata with a latrine owner in Abi LGA, Cross River State. Credit: RUSHPIN/Nanpet Chuktu

Felicity, together with Shadrack Guusu, are RUSHPIN’s new technical support officers. The two are embedded within Local Government Area (LGA) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Units, in the Abi (Cross River State) and Logo (Benue State) LGAs respectively. LGA WASH Unit’s serve as RUSHPIN’s principle Sub-grantees, directly implementing programme activities in communities, alongside local NGOs. Felicity explains that being a technical support officer “is about providing practical, hands-on support, and acting as a coach and a mentor on how to improve the way we work with communities.”

Shadrack adds that since taking on this new role, he’s changed the way he sees sanitation and hygiene promotion: “Coming from a local NGO working with RUSHPIN, I initially started with a feeling that I had some level of knowledge and skill on supporting communities to end open defecation. However, with my new role, I realized, it was important to focus even more on the quality and sustainability of behavior change, especially as I began to see communities slip back to old and poor sanitation practices.”

Shadrack Guusu speaking during a conference of Natural Leaders in Logo LGA, Benue State. Credit: RUSHPIN/Nanpet Chuktu

Shadrack Guusu speaking during a conference of Natural Leaders in Logo LGA, Benue State. Credit: RUSHPIN/Nanpet Chuktu

In February 2016, Shadrack, Felicity, and other technical support officers from the RUSHPIN programme participated in a learning exchange with the GSF-supported Uganda Sanitation Fund (USF), to find ways of accelerating and sustaining open defecation free communities on a large scale. Like RUSHPIN, USF uses the empowering Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to ignite and sustain improved sanitation and hygiene behaviour without the use of external hardware, prescription, or subsidies. “My colleagues hosted staff from our sister GSF programme in Uganda for about two weeks. The exchange included traveling and meeting with Sub-grantees, and I learned about how the USF team has approached CLTS in their own context,” explains Felicity. “It was intense trying to take in so many things. But it was also incredibly fun learning new approaches from the Ugandans, particularly the way they use song and dance to build rapport with community members.”

Exchange participants from the RUSHPIN and USF programmes, and the GSF Secretariat in Logo LGA, Benue State. WSSCC/Patrick England

Exchange participants from the RUSHPIN and USF programmes, and the GSF Secretariat in Logo LGA, Benue State. WSSCC/Patrick England

The RUSHPIN team, with participants from Cross River and Benue State’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies, learned about powerful new CLTS approaches, such as Follow-up MANDONA and Institutional Triggering, through intensive field demonstrations. As Shadrack describes, truly mastering these concepts meant getting his hands dirty: “I first came across these new CLTS concepts from Promising Pathways; a book that chronicles the experiences, innovations and achievement of the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar. I was inspired and decided to try it in a few communities with some level of success, but I felt there was something missing. I needed a more hands-on, practical understanding of the process to make it more effective.”

He continues: “The first few sessions were facilitated by the Ugandans. We watched and learned, and afterwards, we took over while they gave feedback. It turned out to be a whole new learning experience for me and the entire RUSHPIN team. I was particularly stunned at the facilitation skills and techniques employed by the Ugandans during Follow-up MANDONA. This method of following-up with communities after the triggering session involves everyone, not just individual households like what we normally do. With everyone gathered, singing and dancing together, small, immediate and doable actions are facilitated to demonstrate how local solutions can be used to improve latrine quality and safety. Afterwards, everybody rushes back to their own household to replicate what they just saw. This reinforces behaviour change and lets the community take the lead in ending open defecation on their own terms.”

Shadrack facilitating a follow-up MANDONA session in Logo LGA, Benue State. WSSCC/Patrick England

Shadrack facilitating a follow-up MANDONA session in Logo LGA, Benue State. WSSCC/Patrick England

Felicity further elaborates how she was inspired by the potential of the Institutional Triggering approach can be used to create a movement to end open defecation: “Just like how triggering communities prompts feelings of shock and disgust to change sanitation and hygiene behaviour, triggering institutions uses the same approach to change the behaviour of target institutions and end open defecation at scale. During the visit with the Ugandans, we triggered some of the most influential local institutions in Nigeria: Traditional Leaders, a Council of Churches, and a Local Government Council. Now, I have so many new ideas on how my team can strategically trigger key institutions in our own area in order to create a movement for improved sanitation and hygiene.”

Felicity joining community members to mobilize their neighbours during a Follow-up MANDONA session in Obanliku LGA, Cross River State. WSSCC/Patrick England

Felicity joining community members to mobilize their neighbours during a Follow-up MANDONA session in Obanliku LGA, Cross River State. WSSCC/Patrick England

Not only did the exchange with USF allow the RUSHPIN team to see these innovative approaches in action, but it also allowed them to take the lead and develop skills for themselves. Now technical officers like Shadrack and Felicity are carrying what they’ve learned back to their own LGAs. “My own WASH Unit team was inspired,” explains Shadrack. “By the end of the exchange, the coordinator approached me laying out plans to move the work forward using the Follow-up MANDONA and Institutional triggering approaches.  About two weeks since the exchange with USF, we have already done Institutional Triggering with the Council of Chiefs, youth and women’s groups, and have made plans to visit 32 communities using Follow-up MANDONA”.

As the RUSHPIN journey continues, the team is thinking about shit more than ever before.

About the RUSHPIN programme

The GSF-supported and Government-led RUSHPIN programme aims to support over two million people in rural communities to improve their sanitation and hygiene practices. Six Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Cross River and Benue states are covered by the programme, which is managed by Concern Universal. Sub-grantees are state organizations, LGA WASH Units and non-governmental organizations. Since the start of the programme, RUSHPIN has reported helping more than 235,000 people in over 500 communities create the conditions to live in ODF environments. Read more

About the USF programme

Covering 30 districts, the GSF-supported USF programme enables communities to gain access to basic sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The overarching goal of the programme is to help these districts reduce morbidity and mortality rates due to sanitation-related diseases. Led by the Ministry of Health’s Environmental Health Division, District Local Governments serve as Sub-grantees, which are supported by NGOs in some cases. Since the start of the programme, the USF has reported helping more than two million people create the conditions to live in ODF environments. Read more

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