Wednesday, 17 December 2008

CLTS CONFERENCE: THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE

By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

We move to the Africa this morning, where CLTS exists in 22 countries but is relatively new compared to the approach's history in Asia. Amsalu Negussie, Water and Sanitation Advisor, Plan International, East and Southern Africa, gave us an overview of the sanitation situation in this very diverse continent of a billion people. More than 300million people in Africa do not have access to sanitation facilities, and in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. Photo: African panel / Julia Day

Mr Negussie said different methodologies to address sanitation issues have been tried in the past, but it has been difficult to achieve what was required as the systems were very slow and with little progress it became obvious that a different, more effective method was required. Over the last two years Plan, Water Aid, WSP, Unicef have all conducted training on CLTS, which at this stage is a capacity-building process at a regional level – mobilising political will and collaborating to work together.

There are some favourable situations for CLTS on the continent - most countries have a sanitation policy and CLTS has been favourably-received by most organisations, he believes. After struggling in the past to bring sanitation on to the political agenda, with this year being declared the International Year of Sanitation, the issue was propelled to top of the agenda - good new for CLTS.

“But we cannot achieve our objectives unless all organisations collaborate together,” said Mr Negussie. “Challenges exist, but they are challenges to be addressed and not to be shied away from. “Among the challenges mentioned are how to adopt CLTS experiences from Asia to Africa, with CLTS being a young concept? Action research is needed on this, he said. There is also a lack of one institution willing to take on responsibility for CLTS and to lead the knowledge and process around it.

The training and retention of facilitators is another key area. Of a group of 40 people at facilitator training, there might be four or five that are good at the role, but what is the best way to keep them? Particularly as CLTS is just one part of their job. CLTS is about creating leaders but how can they be empowered to move forward? And sanitation in schools remains an area for work.

But the potential of the approach was demonstrated by Sammy Musyoki of Plan International in Kenya, where CLTS is just one year old. “Within a year CLTS has been spreading fast, it’s becoming like a bush-fire,” said Mr Musyoki.

In May 70 delegates from government and other organisations like Unicef took part in training on CLTS, said Mr Muyoki. So far 25 villages have ‘CLTS status’ but 200 villages have been 'triggered' (see the CLTS website for more about this 'triggering' process), and 500 facilitators have been trained. Meanwhile the political environment in Kenya is looking favourable - a Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation has been created, a great opportunity for CLTS to work with officials.

You can read more about Kenya's growing CLTS movement in a piece written by Mr Musyoki for World Toilet Day last month.

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