Inclusion of Local Governments, Parents, and Students in WASH Promotion

Updated - Tuesday 14 November 2017

After one-year of WASH and Learn! implementation in Uganda, some progress and reflections have been written down with the support of our local partners EMESCO, HEWASA, and JESE.

EMESCO – Bugangaizi West County, Kibaale District

EMESCO provided support to the school health clubs, assisting club members in understanding their purpose and fulfilling their duties. EMESCO also delivered IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) materials in schools, raising awareness on key health issues such as hand washing with soap, proper hygiene practices, safe water chain, and the adoption of 3R approach (Retention, Re-charge, and Re-use).   

In the communities, EMESCO formed and trained Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). After the training, four VSLAs were formed and joined by 77 community members who had started saving since. In addition, selected communities were trained on the safe water chain, aiming at reducing water-related diseases as well as providing options for keeping water safe and clean. In particular, local council leaders greatly supported the programme by mounting social pressure on households without pit latrines, resulting in a significant reduce of cases of open-defecation. 

Sanitation Club members of Kyabasaija Primary School after a training session

HEWASA – Rwimi Sub-County, Kabarole District

During the inception meeting, political leaders, technical staffs, and religious and opinion leaders from Rwimi Sub-County gathered and agreed to support the project activities in terms of mobilisation and monitoring. As a result, 126 new latrines were constructed and 67 were under construction.

A banner displaying the theme of the day

HEWASA also worked closely with the school management to ensure the progress of the project activities. Parents were mobilised to contribute funds for the construction of WASH facilities and in-kind donation such as excavating latrine and construction materials. Furthermore, HEWASA used the Football for WASH approach to raise awareness in schools and surrounding communities of the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene. Not only boys, but also male teachers and parents were made aware of Menstrual Hygiene Management. This had successfully helped break the silence around menstruation and empower people to talk about this topic comfortably.

Teams posing for a photo during the Football for WASH competitions

JESE – Kisomoro Sub-County, Kabarole District

JESE implemented a number of activities focusing on raising awareness in schools and surrounding communities. JESE developed and distributed 800 copies of hygiene and sanitation educating materials, providing essential information and facilitating discussions. JESE also conducted hygiene and sanitation radio talk shows, in which the local government leadership participated. Some other examples were developing visual promotion material, facilitating parents open-day, training school health clubs to promote WASH information and activities, and organising a football for water tournament.

The impact of these awareness raising activities were already seen. For example, after promoting the ceramic filters for water treatment in schools, many teachers showed interests in getting water filters for their homes too, as they learned that boiling water was actually more expensive when taking into account the time spent and firewood needed. In addition, parents were also empowered to participate in the development of Operation and Maintenance plans and strategies as well as contribute to the funding which enhanced the ownership of WASH facilities in schools and communities. Furthermore, schools developed income generating activities like cassava gardens, crafts selling, and maize gardening. 


JESE staff facilitating discussions with the community

Here are some takeaways from our partners:

  • Forming small clusters of community members was an effective way to scale up hygiene and sanitation practices. Community members were able to learn much faster in an established small group than in a wider community.
  • Forming and training school health clubs contributed to the improvement in general sanitation situation in schools. It was rather easy to mobilise children, especially in activities such as conducting hygiene parades, making daily cleaning roster, and creating WASH songs.
  • Involving parents and teachers during Menstrual Hygiene Management trainings was a good effort as they showed a positive change of attitude towards providing sanitary pads and supporting their children during menstruation periods.    
  • Working closely with established local structures such as Community WASH Committees ensured minimal challenges for the programme during implementation. These local assemblies could provide essential support, especially in terms of mobilisation, monitoring, trainings, and mapping out the open defecation areas.
  • Involving opinion leaders was particularly important as they had the capacity to influence community members in accepting a positive change.

About WASH and Learn!

The WASH and Learn! programme integrates community and school WASH projects in three adjacent countries in East Africa; Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Together with six local NGO partners, Simavi implements this programme, focusing on water supply and sanitation and hygiene behaviour improvements. 

Simavi continues to work with communities on creating a positive and enabling environment in which every stakeholder is active and to ensure that people use the WASH services properly.

More information on the WASH & Learn! programme can be found here.