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Reflections on the first day of the Pan Africa Review meeting

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Day 1 of the PanAfrican CLTS program inter-country review meeting has just been concluded here in Accra, Ghana. All the 9 implementing countries have shared progress on their projects with challenges and achievements. The impact is amazing; over 450,125 people are living in open defecation free communities across all these countries in 2 years. However, a good proportion of these countries are still grappling with the sustainability question.

Some countries, such as Uganda have made attempts to address this question, through promotion of the sanitation marketing approach to enable communities move up the sanitation ladder and phasing in of hygiene promotion activities after ODF; while others point to the importance of creating strong community self support structures, working closely and ensuring the government is in the lead, following up these communities beyond ODF, but most importantly, well to me, is integrating this CLTS processes amongst other ongoing programs in Health, Village savings and Loans associations, Livelihoods/food security, among others. Many participants are also keen on the latter, hoping that by the end of the 3 days, they will have insight on how to integrate CLTS into other programs.

There was also debate on the issue of rewarding natural leaders. While Ethiopia and Uganda alluded to difficult experiences with in-kind rewards to natural leaders, Sierra Leone had no issues with this. In Sierra Leone, the outstanding natural leaders were rewarded with bicycles during ODF celebrations and the communities did appreciate this as they acknowledged the contribution of their colleagues to ODF attainment. Ethiopia in particular shared an experience of how they took 2 natural leaders to South Africa to participate in the 2nd AFRICASAN Conference , the communities turned against them, citing favor to a few, yet all of them had participated in the process. In Uganda, the same complaints arise, if a small proportion of the community is rewarded in-kind. As such, rewards are communal- bull roasting and celebration at Parish level [a parish has at least 5 villages] and a village certificate! Ghana alluded to such non communal rewards as subsidy while Zambia, questioned if this would be sustainable for all the villages they intended to reach. The question for all thus remained…How best could we support and/or reward natural leaders and/or community volunteers with raising all such issues aforementioned? We will explore this in the next 3 days and I will update on this.

Children’s participation in CLTS processes’ was well demonstrated in all presentations, but most outstanding was Niger, who brought to fore the role of children post-ODF. Niger is compiling a one-pager on this experience. I am challenged to subsequently be conscious and follow up the role of children in the Post ODF phase.

Over the next three days, I am looking forward to the discussions as this presents an opportunity for exploring long term solutions to the sanitation challenges in the communities where Plan Uganda works, but also insights on how to get buy-in from government for affirmative commitments that will enhance concerted efforts to take CLTS to scale in the country.

Carolyne Esther Nabalema, Plan Uganda

Date: 28 February 2012