CLTS Blog posts
The Solomon Islands has a reputation for being laid back and the smiling, barefooted airlines hostess that greets me at the grassy strip formerly known as Fera Airport, in Isabel Province, portrays this in typical fashion. Coconut palms sway in the gentle breeze and as the 10 seater plane slides back down the muddy island runway, the hostess laughs guiltily from our transit boat, telling me that the plane came and went ahead of schedule, leaving passengers on the two boats heading our way stranded. Nobody seems too phased.
Since it first took place in 2008, Africa Water Week has been increasing in its relevance. The African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), which has been in charge of its organisation since 2009, has set and led a common ground for all the African countries around water and sanitation. AMCOW is also in charge of organising AfricaSan.
Last week I attended the World Water Week Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. It was my first time at this huge event and I didn’t know what to expect. Although it was quite overwhelming at first, in the end it proved to be very fruitful and enjoyable.
Ajit Tiwari is Deputy Commissioner, Swachh Bharat Mission, Madhya Pradesh. Years ago, prior to launch of Swachh Bharat, he was working as BDO of Budhni block in Sehore district, and was exposed to CLTS training. He says everyday he went to the training thinking that he would attend that day only if he found it useful- and ended up attending all five days. To convince himself of the practicality of approach, he started ‘triggering’ techniques in villages himself. Village after village began to become ODF in his district.
Sandeep Kadam, DC Mandi, again demonstrates the criticality of district leadership for change. A district already declared open defecation free, Sandeep has not only continued the momentum, but reenergised it by activating mahila mandals (women groups) across his district. Hailing from Maharashtra, he says the philosophy behind this approach is the teaching of Mahatma Phule – ‘teach a woman, and you reform a family’.
Studies show that handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of contracting diarrhoea by up to 47%. In Fort Dauphin, a small town in the South East of Madagascar, poor hygiene practices and widespread open defecation has had serious consequences for a population struggling with diarrhoea and malnutrition. Poverty and poor infrastructure means that the overwhelming majority of residents do not have in-house water connections. Water must bought by the bucket, at public water points throughout the town. With water such a scarce resource, handwashing is not always seen as a primary concern.
I was excited to travel by road to Kumasi and while I was looking forward to site-seeing, I was more eager to start engaging in stimulating conversations with other participants at the 39th WEDC conference. Because I was tired from my trip, I spent the first few minutes after my arrival resting and orienting myself to a place that I would call home for the next five days of the conference. During our road trip to Kumasi I immediately got engrossed in a conversation with a member of WEDC. Our discussion largely bordered on various critical emerging issues in the sector.
A fair representation of water sanitation and hygiene practitioners, researchers, local government representatives and donors convened for a CLTS workshop held by the CLTS Knowledge Hub of the institute of development studies in Kumasi Ghana on the 10th July 2016. Most international sector representation as myself used the opportunity of attending the 39th WEDC conference with the theme Ensuring Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All from the 11-15th July 2016 to also attend the CLTS workshop.
The WEDC Conference 2016 had an impressive line up of paper presentations, side sessions and capacity building workshops across the entire WASH value chain and proved to be an interesting and engaging experience. I participated and interacted with the presenters, participants and facilitators mostly involved with CLTS and scaling up rural sanitation. The learning and sharing side session organized by the CLTS Hub was appropriately timed at the beginning of the conference, setting the context for understanding the WASH context in Ghana as well as other African countries.
The theme for this year’s WEDC Conference was Ensuring Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All. The theme reflects the ambitions at the heart of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to ensure that no one is left behind in efforts to achieve universal access to WASH by 2030. It’s now a critical time for ensuring that WASH research, programmes, policies and services are designed and delivered in ways that promote Equity and Non-Discrimination.