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Nurturing local skills to support CLTS roll out in Uganda

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Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) as an approach to sanitation promotion is continually being appreciated and promoted by other non governmental actors, an evolvement that is crucial to influencing government buy-in and uptake in Uganda. Having initiated the CLTS approach in Uganda in 2007, Plan Uganda is being relied on by other stakeholders in the country to support them with the start up of CLTS programs, first through training and subsequently advisory support.

Good facilitation skills do impact on the quality of CLTS triggering outcomes and subsquently to Open Defecation Free (ODF) status attainment. Experience in Uganda shows that where ‘hybrid’ CLTS has been promoted (where trainers have mixed CLTS with other approaches); or where the training process has been ‘short cut’ (participants are not taken through all the necessary steps during the 5 days hands on training), there have been poor triggering outcomes and in many cases no ODF attainment. Such trainings are usually conducted by people who have never been trained as TOTs themselves and many a time, have no direct interface and experience with grassroot CLTS processes.

The strategy adopted by Plan Uganda is to use the best of local skills with communities where we are working by facilitating them to conduct CLTS training in areas out of Plan’s current implementation jurisdiction. These trainers are either local government health assistants or natural leaders whom we identify as best trainers during CLTS trainings and nurture them through enabling them to forefront CLTS processes in their communities and districts at large. They are also passionate and committed to ensuring that triggered villages do reach ODF. Some of the ‘Master’ trainers ‘hybridise’ CLTS and mix it with PHAST and other approaches; while others short cut the training process, and that is why in many of the areas triggered,ODF has been difficult to attain.

Between April and May 2012, Plan Uganda supported Netherlands Development Organisation [SNV] with a team of four local trainers from Tororo district to conduct CLTS trainings in the Rwenzori region of Western Uganda in the districts of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo; West Nile region in the district of Arua as well as North East region in the districts of Soroti, Kumi and Mbale. A total of 107 people were trained, drawn from local governments at district and sub-county levels, Hand pump mechanic associations, child rights focused organizations, SNV staff and various NGOS/CBOs engaged in integrated development initiatives. With over 20 villages triggered in the hands on trainings, all feedback showed excellent facilitation by the local trainers.

The experience of working with local level community trainers as consultants to facilitate CLTS trainings has brought to fore and confirmed various insights:

  • First, that if local people are well nurtured, they can be useful resources in the scale up of CLTS.
  • Community level trainers have direct hands-on experience and local knowledge both of which are essential to successful triggering and follow up.
  • When contracted as ‘community consultants’, their professional fees are far lower than national level ‘Master’ trainer, helping to keep CLTS programs affordable.
  • Local level community trainers are usually more committed and passionate about the CLTS process due their community level connection.

Carolyne Nabalema is the Water and Sanitation Specialist of Plan Uganda

Date: 24 May 2012