CLTS creates demand for sanitation marketing and SLTS
As chiefdoms attain an open defecation free (ODF) status in Zambia, they have begun looking at sanitation from a much broader perspective by looking for approaches that can be used to sustain adequate sanitation. This has necessitated the introduction of two approaches: sanitation marketing and school-led total sanitation (SLTS).
Sanitation marketing is an emerging field that applies social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up the supply and demand for improved sanitation facilities. It assists low-income households in gaining sustainable access to improved sanitation they want and can afford. Sanitation marketing is a new approach in Zambia, and was first introduced in Namwala district this year as a pilot, with the hope of learning from its implementation process and scaling it up to other provinces. The approach was introduced to chiefdom Mukobela where ODF status was attained in 2013. “Before the introduction of CLTS, the government tried building toilets for the community but they were not used. It was after triggering the chiefdom that we understood that the community needed a mind-set change, not actual toilets for starters,” said Kelvin Simukondwi, Namwala D-WASH Coordinator.
CLTS involves triggering, an approach aimed at stimulating a collective sense of fear, disgust and shame among community members as they confront the crude facts about mass open defecation and its negative impacts on the entire community. Activities include “transect walks” (tours of the village locating open defecation sites and tracing paths of contamination through water or animals), discussions, and the formulation of an action plan to become ODF.
Once a community is triggered, most individuals become aware of the need to construct toilets. Community members use their locally available resources to construct latrines that in most cases are not strong enough to last the next rainy season, and as a result are forced to construct latrines almost every year. Having noted this challenge, the Zambia Ministry of Local Government, Akros, UNICEF and DFID partnered to train about 30 individuals as toilet builders in Namwala district. The individuals comprised Community Champions and Sanitation Action Group (SAG) members, activists that volunteer to sensitise communities on the need to build latrines and adequate sanitation in general.
The toilet builders were taught how best to construct different designs of sustainable latrines suited for different soil types, latrines that can last for as long as 10 years. “After the toilet building training, I now understand why toilets collapse during the rainy season, they are usually not strong enough and no consideration is made to suit the type of soil before building,” said Mutafela Mutafela, a Community Champion and toilet builder. Mutafela also noted that sanitation marketing has empowered him with skills that he intends to use to earn a living and support his family. He said that being a community champion will enable him to educate communities on the need to contract trained toilet builders who are capable of building strong and sustainable latrines.
The incorporation of SLTS
In the quest to maintain adequate sanitation, SLTS has also been introduced to Namwala district to supplement CLTS and marketing sanitation. SLTS was born out of the realisation that schools needed to be triggered separately, especially in the face of adequate sanitation in surrounding communities and an insufficient number of toilets meant to support a large population of students which forces some to still use the bush to defecate when at school. “Because we only had two latrines in the school, most pupils would just urinate and defecate in the bush instead of waiting for a long time in a queue to use the latrine,” said Prestone Mombela, a grade three pupil at Kalundu primary school.
Having realised this gap, the trained toilet builders were contracted to build the low cost latrines for four schools in Namwala district, namely Kalundu, Kawilizhi, Ngabo and Baambwe. They were also to construct thatched walls around the girls’ latrines that would ensure extra privacy and menstrual hygiene management when using the bathing facility at school.
To ensure adequate sanitation in the schools, school management was asked to maintain a checklist that included a duty rota on how toilets were kept clean, an action plan, hand washing facilities which included soap or ash, bathing facilities for girls who were having their menstrual periods, and sanitary towels. The bathing facility for girls was also meant to keep them in school during their monthly periods. It was observed in the past that girls would miss class for a week every month during their periods which in turn disadvantaged them over boys and affected their performance in school.
CLTS, SLTS and sanitation marketing will indeed have a triple effect on adequate sanitation in the Mukobela chiefdom. It will also assist other chiefdoms that attain the ODF status in Zambia to begin to look beyond ODF and search for mechanisms that will sustain adequate sanitation.
About Maswabi Precious Matantilo
Precious Matantilo is an Advocacy and Communications Officer for Akros and is a Global Health Corps fellow for 2014/2015. Before joining Akros, Precious worked for the Commonwealth Youth Programme as programmes assistant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies from the Zambian Open University.