On the 29th August 2012 I attended an amazing ceremony where over 600 community members –girls and boys, men and women- in Kaguma sub-location in Tharaka South District gathered under trees, drummed, sang and danced to mark the end of open defecation in their community. It is the biggest ODF celebration I have ever attend -12 villages celebrating ODF at once is a big achievement. All together 398 households with a population of about 2500 are now living in an ODF environment.
These last few weeks have been exciting and really busy for me. I have found myself doing a lot of juggling – our WASH Advisor and our CLTS Trainer have moved on from Plan, so I have had to step in and ensure that all the balls remain in the air. This week is the climax for me.
The question on whether it is ethical or right to use ‘shame’ as a resource
for facilitating change has been an emerging critique of Community-Led Total
Sanitation (CLTS). This question could be misleading, as at no point does CLTS require facilitators to say ‘shame on you’ to target audiences for defecating in the open or for eating each others’ shit.
How sad I had to miss the Pan Africa Sharing and Learning Workshop (see other blogs to find out more about what went on there) and the ODF sustainability research methodology in Accra Ghana. Good to read all about it and to hear from Philip (my colleague) that it was great there. It is amazing that Africa and Kenya have become a beehive of CLTS activities all with the focus of getting rid of open defecation practice which takes lives of many children every year.
It is not even one year since the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHS) the launched the Open Defection Free Rural Kenya by 2013 campaign. So why the re-launch? Upon reflection, it was clear to key institutional champions within the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, SNV and UNICEF that not much had happened since the launch in May 2011.
Handwashing is a vital part of good sanitation and hygiene and the issue is always raised during triggering. If the community (and the facilitator) understands CLTS and its true meaning of cutting all faecal-oral contamination routes, there is no way handwashing will be left out.
It feels like more than a year since I blogged. No sooner did I come back to work on the 9th January 2012 than was I forced by circumstances to take compassionate leave to be with my mother and family after our dear sister (my immediate follower) passed on. It was painful but we are adjusting to the loss. Funerals and sanitation in Africa are closely related. We could not help but quickly agree with my family that with the influx of many people coming to console the family and to attend the burial itself, that we needed do something.
Our Clear Voices Channel 4
The last one month we have been really busy gearing up for the World Toilet Day. This is the fifth year running that Plan International Kenya will be celebrating World Toilet Day. As usual we celebrate this day on the ground where villages have attained Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. The first (2007), second (2008) and third (2009) year we celebrated in Kilifi, the 4th (2010) in Homa Bay County. This year the celebrations will be in Siaya County.