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First annual review meeting, first day, first blog!

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Today was my first Pan-African CLTS review meeting and I enjoyed every part of it and also learnt a lot. It is my first time in Uganda after hearing so much of this beautiful country. Talking about firsts, this is my first blog ever. I am always enthused when I meet people who ask me to read their blogs and decided to volunteer myself alongside Sharon when one of the facilitators, Petra asked for volunteers to blog the day’s proceedings.

This review meeting is the fifth and final review meeting for the Pan-African CLTS programme and it brought together representatives from four Plan National Offices-US, Australia, Netherlands and UK, eight Plan country offices and two knowledge institutions- IRC and IDS. I could finally match names with faces. I was thrilled to meet Professor Robert Chambers, one of the facilitators and a researcher of the Institute of Development studies at the University of Sussex. I first heard about him several years ago when I was doing an action research on climate change.

The workshop was opened by the Country Director of Plan Uganda. I enjoyed the participatory setting of today’s meeting. First, there were no tables and the rationale was to prevent people from working on their lap tops while sessions were going on. It was all chairs arranged like a horse shoe. Introductions were done outside and it was fun and participatory. I also enjoyed the communication signs for asking people to speak louder, slowly, make a point more specific etc.

The working sessions were quick started with an exercise that highlighted the burning issues and questions people wanted more clarifications on or issues people wanted to share their experiences on. The issues and questions were mostly around sustainability, monitoring, working with government, social inclusion, among others.

This was followed by presentations from Plan country offices- Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Ghana amd Malawi. It was great to learn about the progress countries had made on ODF communities, SanMark, SLTS and urban CLTS. With regards to VSLAs and CLTS Ethiopia and Niger were making good strides. On school led total sanitation I learnt that the formation of school led governance committees by children who ensured that classes took turns in cleaning the school toilets enhanced the cleanliness of school latrines. PTAs also had a role to play in ensuring operation and maintenance of school toilets by contributing money.

There was an interesting discussion on urban CLTS after the country presentations. It was established that UCLTS is only a part of the sanitation in urban communities. Urban CLTS go beyond stopping open defecation and that there was the need to identify and engage all the actors in the sanitation value chain. There was also the need to document our learnings on Urban CLTS. I also learnt from the Kenyan example that UCLTS can create employment opportunities for the youth.
We were glad when our Sierra Leonean colleagues joined us during the discussion on UCLTS after going through a long route through Morocco and Qatar. 
The day’s session was brought to a close after the interesting discussion on urban CLTS. It was good that Sharon realised I was being tempted to doze off.

Celestina Pabby is WASH Specialist for Plan Ghana

Date: 13 March 2015
Pan Africa