Spotlight: Exhilda Daka
By Rachelle Morehead on July 9, 2015 in student, Water and Sanitation Health
Exhilda Daka is the Senior Administrative Officer for the Council of Chinsali, Muchinga Province of Zambia. In her work for the council of Chinsali, Mrs. Daka is in the Human Resources department. She handles all issues among staff in the District Council. Being in that position she has a great understanding of most if not all programs in the district as well as the challenges of their implementation. Her training is mainly in Environmental health, managing the council assets, such as land and environmental management. Her specialty with Environmental Health has lead her into involvement with Akros Global Health in Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS.)
Mrs. Daka’s main role in CLTS is district training. She trains District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education Committee (D-WASHE) members, Chiefs, Environmental Health Technicians (EHT), and Community Champions (CCs) on CLTS practices. Through her time working with CLTS, Mrs. Daka has learned that CLTS is attainable she believes that “mindsets are starting to change” and that in some villages Open Defecation Free (ODF) is possible. Mrs. Daka stated that in a few years, if key changes and support are available, ODF can be accomplished district wide. Though she recognizes that some CLTS practices such as triggering are incredibly effective, she also knows that the reason ODF has not been reached in the district is due to some key challenges. Mrs. Daka spoke freely about changes that need to be made in her district and has some great ideas to overcome the challenges that are inhibiting ODF. The first issue Mrs. Daka pointed out was the Chief involvement. In her opinion the Chiefs and Village headman are not participating in CLTS to their fullest ability.
To overcome this issue she recommended a sensitization meeting for Chiefs, Headmen, and MOCTA representatives every two months to encourage participation and to give ideas to keep progress in the villages. The other issue is with the Community Champions (CCs). The CCs, which are the foundation of the program and crucial to CLTS implementation, are struggling. First and foremost Mrs. Daka stated that many of them do not have phones to input data to DHIS2 which is the database used to collect, monitor, and track ODF progress in the districts. Mrs. Daka went on to explain that in the case that a CCs does have a phone many of them are not currently working. CCs in some cases, Mrs. Daka noted, do not have the proper training to configure and fix the phones. With her hard work in the community, Mrs. Daka is aware of the challenges within CLTS but she still has a positive outlook on the program. She recognizes the challenges and looks toward solutions. This is a breath of fresh air in a district that is struggling with CLTS implementation.
During my time spent with Mrs. Daka a few things became very clear. She is an incredibly kind individual. This has led her to excellent relations with many of the workers within CLTS implementation and her community. She spent time one of our mornings together just to procure a few chickens for an EHT we would be visiting during our time in the village. With a two and a half hour drive to the village this was a true kindness saving him much time, money, and a trip into town. We also visited a mission near Chinsali. She was welcomed to the compound with open arms from the sisters and health workers at the clinic in the mission.
Mrs. Daka’s commitment to her community is another reason why her perspectives on CLTS are exemplary. Mrs. Daka in her connections within the community, along with her training, and positive way of thinking has made her a true asset to CLTS; and I can only conclude that she would be clear asset to any program of which she is a part.
About Rachelle Morehead
Rachelle Morehead is a Community Health major at Montana State University. She plans to pursue work in international development focusing on children’s health upon her graduation in May of 2016.