388,380 Rural Zambians Reached by Akros WASH Team
UNICEF and the Zambia Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) retained Akros last year to revitalize its Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) intervention among rural Zambian villages. The intervention uses a combination of techniques to persuade community members to use latrines. If people use latrines instead of simply defecating in the open, then fecal-based contamination decreases. When latrines are regularly used, communities see a sharp decrease in Cholera, food poisoning, diarrhea, and other illnesses.
To date, WASH surveillance in Zambia has been slow, inaccurate and incomplete. This made it extremely difficult to target the WASH interventions effectively, and to assess whether these actions were having any real impact. UNICEF and MLGH asked Akros to help in August of 2013.
Akros developed an innovative and concise surveillance platform using low-cost mobile phones combined with simple protocols for reporting and analysis – protocols which could be easily managed by local counterparts. The protocols and tools were piloted in September of 2013, then rapidly scaled through October and November.
The end result is that 388,380 rural Zambians started using latrines. That amounts to roughly 130,000 new latrine users per month.
These numbers are impressive, in fact unprecedented, for the sub-Saharan Africa region. Even more impressive is that the Akros WASH team has achieved these gains at a fraction of the normal cost for CLTS management.
“We are not finished yet,” said Amy Tiwari, Akros WASH Program Manager. “Numbers of latrine users will continue to rise in our current districts, and we are working with MLGH and UNICEF to triple the number of districts reached through 2014.”
“This is the sort of practical, sustainable innovation Akros targets – cost-effective solutions, commitment to government and country leadership, all resulting in documented, population-level impact,” said Benjamin Winters, Akros Zambia Country Director.
Akros is a public health and economic development consulting firm with operations in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa.