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Re-Launching the ODF Rural Kenya by 2013 Campaign

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It is not even one year since the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHS) the launched the Open Defection Free Rural Kenya by 2013 campaign. So why the re-launch? Upon reflection, it was clear to key institutional champions within the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, SNV and UNICEF that not much had happened since the launch in May 2011. As one of the senior officers in the MOPH put it, “…a lot had been assumed after the launch e.g. partners would come on board to support the realization of the road map… but it was clear we were not adhering to the road map”. The officer was concerned that since the launch only one new partner had come on board and that we needed more players if the road map to ODF Rural Kenya was to be actualized. There is agreement on the need to be in a campaign mode if the initiative is to attract the institutions and resources which are needed to move forward. Though much has been happening on the ground i.e. triggering and declaring ODF, this has not been covered by the media. I can only attribute this to the fact that we never strategically planned for the media coverage and it may never happen unless planned for and resourced.

While the re-launch is needed to rejuvenate and energise the players, I think what is missing is the ability to strategize how we can best work without waiting for resources to run a CLTS or ODF “project”.

The strategy needed is devolving the CLTS process to counties through NGOs and communities based organization and supporting them to work with natural and local leaders who are closer to the localities where ODF is happening. There is a need to rethink the third party verification which currently is being done through NGOs. The current experience shows that when CLTS happens rapidly and at scale, the third party verification cannot match its speed and scale. Moreover it would require a lot of resources and may not be sustained in the long-term. If we can trust communities to do their own analysis and come up with action plans to end ODF, there is no doubt community-led mechanisms for verification can work. For instance this can be done by a well constituted group of people from neighbouring locations. After all the ODF verification is not for the benefit of us “outsiders” but for the communities living in ODF communities. The other thing is to promote CLTS, not as a public health issue, but everybody’s business. This way opportunities for institutional champion will emerge will be created in all sectors.

The re-launch will focus on reflecting on the CLTS journey in Kenya: gains and progress made towards ODF rural Kenya 2013, securing commitment from different players and mapping the way forward. We have to be careful not to repeat the assumptions made in May 2011. I am looking forward to the re-launch event on 29th February 2012. While I would have preferred to hold on and do it in March or April, I sense a lot of enthusiasm which we shouldn’t discourage. My hope is that it will be a successful event that will renew the energy and commitment of players this time round.

The CLTS knowledge hub is back up and running. The new manager (Lillian Mbeki) is very enthusiastic and passionate about CLTS. She seems to have hit the ground running. She’s been out and about to understand what is happening around the country and getting to know who the movers and shaker of CLTS in Kenya are. She visited us in Plan a couple of weeks ago and it was through her that we learned about the planned re-launch.

You can follow the Kenya Knowledge Hub and the Ministry’s campaign on their website

Date: 14 February 2012


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I read this article and could not resist but share some of my views
It seems to me that primarily the 3rd party certification is being seen as a hindrance for some strange reasons at such an early stage when the Kenya CLTS program needs all those safeguards to ensure continuous donor’s interest and trust in its program etc.

My other comments are: Regarding adherence to the ODF plan, how about PLAN owns adherence to that road map which was developed with fullest PLAN’s participation? Did PLAN play its due part, with all the resources which they received recently?? The ODF road map categorically states that this roadmap is for all in Kenya and hence Plan must have its own progress to be reported here!

About comment on failure to strategically planning the roadmap in terms of media: I will say its not True! ODF Kenya Campaign has a clear section on Media and media coverage. Remember on the ODF launch day the CEOs of many media groups were present and they even made commitments to the success of the roadmap?

About waiting for resources comment in this article, I just wonder where in the roadmap this impression is provided? The road map envisages mobilization of all available resources and partners and PLAN knows it first hand as they were there at each step of the launch. ODF roadmap never says that everything will be done only trough MOPHS resources!

About the author’s argument asking for doing away of the 3rd party certification…one will first need to ask, have we already reached that stage where hundreds of new villages are added to the ODF list and the 3rd party certification has become unfeasible?? The roadmap intention was that till that time the 3rd party verification will continue but after a real ground swell has been achieved than necessary changes in approach will be introduced by the steering committee proposed in the ODF roadmap. Hence no need to do away the certification process now unless there are people who are scared of getting their claims certified from the 3rd party.

The author is also implying that the roadmap leaves the responsibility for the goal onlt to MOPHS. It has to be noted that the Roadmap derives its Key Principles from Kenya Sanitation Strategy which categorically says on page 5 that “ 2.2.3 Making Sanitation as People’s Movement Delivering the goal of ‘a safe sanitary environment for all in Kenya’ can only be achieved if sanitation itself undergoes a transformation- from a provider’s movement into a people’s movement. This requires a substantive shift in the approach of the institutions of service delivery, built on the following pillars:1. ‘Community led’ approach – where the grass roots demand for improved sanitary conditions emerges from local communities themselves. 2. Multi-stakeholder partnerships – where citizens, government, local authorities (city, municipal, town and county councils), CBOs, FBOs, NGO’s, private sector, donors, media and academics all work together to foster a ‘ground swell’ of public demand for improved sanitary living conditions. 3.Government facilitation – where the role of national government and central ministry shifts from that of a provider of infrastructure to a facilitator & regulator of improved public sanitary service delivery.” This way opportunities for institutional champion will emerge will be created in all sectors.

About the re-launch and the need for caution as not to repeat the assumptions made in May 2011.So what new planning assumption will be made? Or the author will plan without any assumptions? How?

At the end the Roadmap has also provided a section on periodic review for the roadmap. I only wish that the author and the proponents should have made changes through that mechanism instead of this public forum giving somehow an impression that all previous efforts bore new fruits and all the new guys know this better.


Submitted by petra on

Dear all, this is a blog, so a space for personal reflections, sharing of experiences, raising of questions and initiation of discussion. So naturally, there will be difference of opinion. Good to bear this in mind, when reading and responding to posts.

It’s great to see the discussion unfolding above but I would suggest you focus on the issues rather than letting this become a place of attack or singling out people or organisations.

I believe it is healthy to reflect critically on what is and is not working. The way I read the original post is not one of faulting the ministry or others, but as pointing out the challenges and questions that are important to address as the campaign for ODF rural Kenya moves forward.

It is great to read about the successes that have already been achieved and Kenya is setting a great example with this campaign, the national policy and the commitment by the ministry and all the key stakeholders to make Kenya ODF by 2013.

For this to be achieved, it is key that all organisations and the ministry work together in the spirit of cooperation and openness. And that there is honest regular reflection, discussion and exchange around challenges, mistakes, questions etc… recognising that it is not easy to get things right every time and that there is no shame in admitting where things need tweaking.

With the combined experience, capacity, motivation and commitment of all players, this will surely be a success from which other countries in the region and globally can learn. We are keen to hear how the event on the 29th goes and what decisions, commitments and plans have been made.

Submitted by Chiranjibi Tiwari (not verified) on

I fully agree with Petra that any ambitious target such as ‘Rural Kenya ODF by 2013’ can be realised if and only if we all stakeholders: State institutions, civil Society, NGOs and Private sector can bring synergy in our efforts. In my opinion, a visionary leadership of the mandated state institution (in this case, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation) is a key to an enabling environment for all key stakeholders to partner with them. If the Ministry is creating this space and making efforts to coordinate and collaborate with all stakeholders, I think we need to be flexible and offer a very constructive support to the Ministry so that a national goal of ODF Kenya is achievable. Let’s hope the Stakeholder conference scheduled to take place on 29th Feb will help bring this space and much desired collaboration among all.

Submitted by Chiranjibi Tiwari (not verified) on

The government of Kenya is taking another important step towards successfully implementing the Rural Kenya ODF Road Map launched in 2011. A major stakeholder’s workshop is scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya on 29th February 2012. It will bring all key government ministries, development partners, NGOs, private sector investors, financing institutions, civil society and media houses to discuss on the ways and means of successfully achieving the ambitious campaign launched by the Minister last year.

While the CLTS process was initially introduced in Kenya in 2007, the real momentum took place when the government of Kenya with support from development partners, especially UNICEF and SNV, took leadership to take CLTS to scale. More than 7000 staff of the Ministry are mobilised and since September 2010 over 970 villages (almost a million rural Kenyans) have attained ODF status, and several sub-locations have also become ODF. In fact the entire district of Nambale (Busia County) is working to achieve ODF status by March 2012. The gains made since the programme began have demonstrated that it is possible to eradicate the scourge of open defecation.

This considerable achievement prompted the Ministry to incorporate CLTS in its national strategy as the approach to improving sanitation countrywide. The ministry in May 2011 launched a campaign for Open Defecation Free (ODF) Rural Kenya by 2013 targeting to reach all rural communities. This ambitious target is achievable. A draft roadmap has been prepared by the Ministry towards ending open defecation in the country by 2013. The forthcoming stakeholder’s workshop is one of the key strategies of the Rural Kenya ODF Road Map where stakeholders will discuss on the progress so far, explore options for fast racking the CLTS scale-up, and strengthen partnerships and coordination to ensure that the ambitious target is achieved. The ministry and implementing partners will be showcasing the success story from the pilot sites and it is anticipated that new partnerships, support and commitment will be generated.

The meeting shall be opened by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Health & Sanitation, as the Minister is scheduled to be out of country on this day.