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Unclogging Blockages in Sanitation

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Today over 100 practitioners in the water and sanitation sector participated in a seminar dubbed, “unclogging blockages in sanitation” in Kampala Serena Hotel. The three days’ meeting was officially opened by the Minister of Health, Hon Ruhankana Rugunda, who stressed the pivotal role of communities in taking lead to improve their sanitation status. During the three days seminar it’s expected that participants will discuss the different challenges in sanitation as a business and how these can be addressed to establish viable and affordable sanitation products that respond to community needs.

Some of the crosscutting challenges mentioned by participants include; difficulty to engage the private sector in sanitation, difficulty to involve micro finance institutions in sanitation, lack of affordable sanitation products, limited market data and ineffective market distribution channels among others.

Several organizations shared experiences on sanitation marketing which enabled participants to unclog some of the sanitation challenges. Plan Malawi shared the village bank modal which is used to provide credit to community members to invest in sanitation improvement; it’s a requirement that each member of the group saves money in the village bank and can get a loan to invest in sanitation and other initiatives. Each group member is supposed to own an improved latrine. IDE also made a presentation on the human centered design where the sanitation modals are created basing on community needs. IDE also emphasized the need of replicating the process of sanitation marketing rather than the modal. Water for People shared an innovative pit emptying technology which is still at piloting phase, the technology will help to reduce costs associated with pit emptying since it is manufactured locally and can be accessed in areas in urban slums which cesspool emptiers can’t reach.

Furthermore during a session on donor perspectives on sanitation financing it was highlighted that the new USAID water and sanitation strategy will focus on ensuring 6 million people gain access to sanitation in 29 countries in the next five years.

The seminar has been instrumental in putting sanitation marketing high on the agenda; currently the sector requires approaches that are pro-poor, affordable and scalable to enhance sustainability of sanitation. CLTS has been effective in driving communities to end open defecation and consequently created demand for improved sanitation, therefore sequencing of the CLTS and sanitation marketing will ensure that households move up the sanitation ladder with ease due to benefits attributed to having an improved latrine.
However it’s important to note that for sanitation marketing to be successful the sanitation products promoted should be affordable accessible and appropriate to the local context. More so the involvement of the private sector is key in driving the process forward.

Date: 20 February 2014