Winning sustainability structures for WASH facilities in schools

Updated - Monday 03 December 2018

A four-day learning meeting (September 29 – 1 October 2018) was an opportunity for the partners to reflect on the efforts undertaken in the three year WASH and Learn! programme to attain sustainable WASH models in schools and communities in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

The meeting was attended by participants from partner organisations TDFT, UFUNDIKO, EMESCO, JESE, HEWASA, CABDA and Maji Milele, as well as Simavi and Aqua for All. The learning meeting utilized various tools for discussion, including organisations auditioning their best practices over the past three years, for further guidance on the way forward.

The conversation around how the risk assessment/mitigation and cost recovery tools were adapted to meet the stakeholders’ (schools’) operational capacity demonstrated both successes and challenges.  Success was noted on the premise that all stakeholders (government, school management, teachers, parents, local leaders, pupils) were encouraged to participate and contribute during the programme and even after the programme. The main challenge was that some stakeholders were not active in contributing during the programme. Introducing the sustainability aspect in existing structures proved a winner to foster active engagement of various stakeholders. This would continue the WASH and Learn! programme efforts post the funding period and would contribute to sustainability, especially of the constructed WASH facilities in the schools and communities. The structures partners worked with included Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) for TDFT, EMESCO, JESE and HEWASA, Water User Committees for CABDA, and Community Owned Water Supply Organisations (COWSOs) for UFUNDIKO. In these structures partners created the will among stakeholders to support the best practices in attaining sustainable WASH in schools and the community. This was done by engaging them in the programme and allowing them to have first-hand experience with how the sustainability tools worked and what they could achieve. All partners also worked closely with Local Government Authorities to get them involved in the programme, e.g. in selection of the intervention areas, but also in project activities and joint monitoring exercises.

During the learning meeting, partners had the opportunity to explore emerging innovations they had initiated during the course of the programme like the use of community clustering for sustainable Community-Led Total Sanitation and also sustainability measures including boosting community income for water as a business to be successful. The community clustering approach was used by especially the Ugandan partners within the WASH & Learn programme to move from CLTS to open defecation free communities. More information about this approach can be found in the article Using cluster approach to drive sustainable WASH improvement.

The meeting reviewed the evaluations undertaken in year one and two, reflecting on progress made so far. It also forecasted the next step for partners for WASH & Learn! programme, especially on how the programme will be evaluated in the coming months. In conclusion, the learning meeting provided interesting insights in what works well, and where additional attention is needed. The endline evaluation that will be conducted in the coming months will give more insights in the results that the WASH & Learn! programme achieved.