South Sudan

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Context

South Sudan is emerging from a devastating civil war that destroyed physical infrastructure and government capacity to deliver services to the communities. Many people had been forced to flee from their homes and seek refuge in Internally Displaced Persons camps or to neighboring countries. The humanitarian crisis that that affected the country was such that it was impossible to conduct long development projects. The only way out was to carry out emergency and humanitarian interventions since saving life was of critical importance. This approach equally informed how sanitation interventions were implemented. They were mainly emergency in nature where the agencies provided the communities with subsidies to enable them construct their latrines. However, most of these subsidized latrines were not put to their intended use. The sanitation materials provided were abandoned, vandalized, sold in the markets or used for purposes other than what they were intended for. In the meantime the practice of open defecation continued unabated.

Introducing CLTS

In 2010, after a review of the past sanitation approach which was found to have been a failure, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, together with other stakeholders opted to adopt Community Led Total Sanitation. The approach was preferred because of its success in other countries, and also because it fitted with the government’s objective of promoting participatory approaches that were in line with recovery and development programmes that would serve the long term needs of the country.

Unfavourable conditions

South Sudan is a country that falls in the category of a place with unfavourable conditions for CLTS due to its entrenched subsidy culture, sparsely populated areas, and cultural practices and beliefs that deter the use of latrines and encourage the practice of open defecation, challenging geographical conditions and poor infrastructure.

Successes

CLTS is however, breaking new grounds by overcoming some of these challenges. 2012/2013 has experienced a revival of CLTS in the country. There are now 23 open defecation free (ODF) villages and 15 others are waiting for their verification to be done. About 6,500 households have constructed their latrines through the approach and 40,000 people now access basic sanitation services.  During the first ODF celebration in the country, the Country Director for Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) described the achievement of the village as a ‘great momentum that will trigger many more villages to emulate the good example.’ Indeed, soon after the celebration, three neighboring villages took cue and started constructing their own latrines. This confirms the innate desires of communities to change poor sanitation situations and replace them with a more dignified environment free from open defecation and diseases.

Peri-urban CLTS

The CLTS practice has equally broken new grounds in the country by successfully triggering a peri urban set up to adopt safe sanitation. Doing CLTS in such an environment has its own unique challenges such as inadequate social coherence due heterogeneous socio-cultural complexities; land tenure disputes, unclear laws on who is responsible for providing sanitation services and poor enforcement of existing by-laws. All these factors undermine implementation of CLTS. However, in Magwi County in East Equatorial State, 2 peri urban villages were facilitated by UNICEF partner SNV to take up CLTS.  All the households in these villages have completed constructing their latrines and are just waiting for ODF verification.

Challenges

Nevertheless it has not been smooth sailing in all parts of the country. In the greater Upper Nile State comprising Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile CLTS has had a bumpy ride. This is mainly attributed to insecurity caused by inter-ethnic conflicts, and alleged external aggression by militia groups sponsored by Khartoum government which has resulted in terrible loss of life and displacements of population. Natural calamities such as flooding have also had adverse effects displacing populations and rendering development activities such as CLTS untenable. The situation has been exacerbated by the black cotton soil which covers a significant amount of the land. This has made it difficult to construct affordable and durable latrines due to the collapsing nature of the soils. The result has been very slow uptake of CLTS in the region and success is yet to be reported in any village.

Way forward

It is clear that CLTS has great potential in the country, and there is a need to consolidate the gains made and further scale it up in the country.  In order to do this, the following issues need consideration:

  • Resource mobilization to support CLTS implementation
  • Capacity building for government personnel and other implementing agencies.
  • Development of a road map and capacity building plans involving sanitation actors in the country.
  • Development of a functional inter-agency body to coordinate CLTS at the national and state levels.
  • Organizations that have already initiated CLTS in the communities should ensure regular follow ups to support and encourage the villages to progressively work towards becoming ODF.
  • Organizations that are still undertaking household sanitation subsidies should reconsider their approach and adopt CLTS as advocated for by the Government of South Sudan.
  • Sanitation agencies should move beyond rhetoric and match their words with resources that are required to take CLTS to scale.