Reflections from day 2: Sanitation marketing and Natural Leaders

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Institute of Development Studies [IDS] facilitators never seem to run out of participatory facilitation techniques and this time round, discussion themes are developed from participant expectation cards. The themes varied from Natural leaders [interesting, I also picked this up during day 1] , sanitation marketing, children and CLTS, scaling up , gender issues, partnerships and collaborations, overcoming subsidy- among others. Participants are asked to vote for at least 2 themes they are most interested to participate in and from this exercise. From the voting, four major groups emerge and these are the first four of the aforementioned and one has to rotate within at least 2 groups.

I am happy to be part, first, of the sanitation marketing group discussion in which most member countries, except Uganda and Ethiopia sought to understand more about sanitation marketing. In Ethiopia, after ODF attainment, the shit eradication committees are naturally disbanded because there is no more shit to eradicate. Natural leaders’ networks are thereby formed. They are then trained on entrepreneurship, business as well as masonry skills. These NL networks have evolved into socio-economic enterprises that are now selling slabs. Plan Ethiopia will support these masons with start up capital; thereafter have them operate independently within the market. In Uganda, the sanitation marketing process is different, having started with formative research on both supply and demand side. This research guided product development and final product designs in a catalogue of technological options. In the process of product development, over 90 masons allover Tororo district, were trained on various technological design options. Plan Uganda is intensifying promotional activities to ensure that demand is elicited for these sanitation products, among many other activities. Plan Uganda, however, does not directly support the mason with any form of seed capital but links the masons to financial institutions as well as other self financing mechanisms.

The key innovations highlighted included: Entrepreneurship skills for masons and Natural Leaders; linking masons to ODF communities and exploring self- financing mechanisms for masons. The group concurred that even where sanitation marketing is on track, there is need for a scale up strategy in the country.

I chose the Natural Leaders group as my second group. Here most participants sought to first, understand the contextual definition of a Natural Leader. It was pointed out that natural leaders emerged during triggering as key people from within the community who support the processes to ODF attainment; while in others Natural Leaders were elected by the communities. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s reflection, the issue of motivating natural leaders still emerged. Countries’ ways of motivating natural leaders varied according to context, ranging from training/ capacity building, support to form social companies as is the case for Ethiopia, per-diems/ allowances to in-kind rewards such as bicycles; but most of these initiatives were in the short term. The key question then for the long term was ‘Can we keep these Natural Leaders who are ‘Volunteers’ motivated for, say, over 5 years or do we think that they can be absorbed into other community structures in the long run?’.

Tomorrow we go out to field and I hope that I will get a chance to talk to some Natural Leaders. I will keep you posted on any insights on this!

Carolyne Esther Nabalema, WASH Specialist, Plan Uganda

Date: 28 February 2012
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