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Finance and marketing for CLTS and rural WASH: challenges and opportunities in West and Central Africa

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The CLTS Knowledge Hub held a four-day regional workshop in Saly, Senegal; the major aim was encouraging and engaging sanitation practitioners across fifteen West and Central African (WCA) countries for them to share knowledge and experiences, as well as challenges and innovations in regards to Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and rural water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

CLTS and rural WASH in the WCA region
The WCA regional workshop mainly focused on fostering discussions across two leading areas: i) how to reach the last mile, and ii) how to make sanitation programming and approaches sustainable in the longer term. Across both of these areas participants took into account the different aspects of inclusion and sustainability (enabling conditions; social norms; taboos and behaviour change; and physical and technical settings) for all WCA countries to reach and maintain total open defecation free (ODF) status by and after 2030.

Sanitation finance and sanitation marketing (SanMark) were two of the aspects widely discussed by the participants, and their relevance for making sanitation policies and programmes equitable, inclusive and sustainable was made visible throughout the week.

(Fawoziatouh Allade from MCDI presents the challenges and innovations of CLTS and rural WASH in Benin)

Current challenges to finance and access sanitation facilities
During the week the participants shared different challenges in regards to finance and access to sanitation in the WCA region, and despite the diversity of socio-cultural and economic contexts and backgrounds, several of the barriers overlapped and thus are important to be shared among the wider WASH community.

The limited amount and/or inadequate targeting of funding opportunities was one of the most cited challenges, as well as the partial involvement of the national and sub-national governments in the planning and funding of sanitation options: currently most of the funding for sanitation in the region comes from donors and technical partners. The difficulty to approach, motivate and work together with the private sector, and the lack of awareness and assessment of the cost of latrines and other sanitation products available in the market were also found as major barriers in the region. 

The limited availability of resources after reaching ODF status was also mentioned, along with the lack of innovative finance for scaling-up and moving-up the sanitation ladder and the limited number of financial mechanisms making sanitation affordable for the most vulnerable.

The practitioners also identified the need for formative research on SanMark, to further develop the demand and creation of sanitation services and to move from a beneficiary to a customer approach to reduce the overdependence on funding. Furthermore, participants recognised that the integration between CLTS and SanMark from an early stage could contribute to an increase in the supply of toilet options.

(Some of the main financial challenges and innovations by country)

Leading solutions and innovations
The participants also identified valuable approaches and innovations in terms of sanitation financing and marketing which are taking place in the WCA region and already changing the sanitation landscape.

These included:

Cost analysis, institutional triggering and advocacy
To start with, assessments of different sanitation products are taking place in DRC, Ghana, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal where household members are approached with guidebooks containing information on latrine options (including data on dimensions, costs and materials) for them to chose the technology that could best adapt to their context. Resource mobilisation through institutional triggering and advocacy is also an important strategy applied in Mali and Togo.

Competition, targets and integration of approaches
Another example highlighted the enhancement of the competition amongst districts in Ghana for demand creation of WASH facilities. Participants from Burkina Faso and Ghana shared examples of guidelines created on how to identify the poorest households and design targeted subsidies. Also in Burkina Faso CLTS is considered an entry point for the integration of approaches so local community members are being involved and trained in microfinance, SanMark, behaviour change communication and menstrual hygiene management.

Communal approaches to sanitation finance
Based on a market approach that identifies local communities as customers rather than as beneficiaries, Senegal is currently fostering the creation of village development associations: community groups officially recognised by the administrative authority that sponsor a wide range of activities at the village level. Income generating activities (such as production of soaps and reusable pads by women groups) are encouraged and part of the profits go to a solidarity fund, which is a self-financing scheme that provides loans for the most vulnerable households so that they can build their own latrines. Similar communal solidarity approaches are also running in DRC and Gambia, and communal saving accounts in Nigeria.

Additionally, communal post-ODF action plans have been developed and implemented across Cameroon. In this regards, the community itself develops a post-ODF plan and post-financing for improved facilities: no funds are provided to the community for post-certification. It is important to underline that strong governmental leadership and involvement in the monitoring of post-ODF status is allowing this approach to materialise.

Local technologies and know-how to sanitation marketing
In rural areas of Senegal the facilitation of local technologies to reduce costs and reach different needs through adaptive designs and technologies is also being supported by local governments. Local actors are being encouraged to carry out sanitation projects and strengthen their communities’ post-ODF status. Partnerships with research institutions have also been promoted in Benin and Mali to improve the quality of latrines and to develop new technologies and products accessible and affordable to all.

USAID's WASH Project in Ghana is another remarkable approach being applied to foster the involvement of local suppliers and the provision of new opportunities for marketing. The project is a four-year initiative primarily focused on fostering training and involvement of local masons together with the provision of seed money. This project contributes to encourage the identification of endogenous mechanisms that could reach households, the support of publicity and presentation of products, and the use of media and mobile technologies, in order to incentivise the demand of sanitation facilities which was almost non-existent in the country a few years ago.

(Participants share lessons learned and key notes depict some of the financial challenges of the WCA region)

Ways forward
Among the valuable recommendations shared by the participants throughout the week it is worth highlighting the need to integrate SanMark after the CLTS triggering process in order to make available numerous sanitation options that can be adapted to the context, means and needs of households. This approach also helps to better understand what motivates communities to build and improve their sanitation facilities (pride and prestige aspects, among others).

It is also relevant to encourage coordination and sharing amongst all the stakeholders involved taking into account the leading role of the government and the potential financial benefits of including private sector investments for scaling-up and moving-up the sanitation ladder more rapidly. Furthermore, the need to regulate and monitor the funds made available to the communities was clearly underlined.

The enhancement of households’ purchase power, as is currently happening in Ghana and Senegal, as well as the development of communal solidarity approaches like in DRC and Gambia, are favorable approaches which allow communities to design their own solutions in order to achieve and sustain their sanitation outcomes.

Overall, the WCA regional workshop allowed participants to think further about how to involve local knowledge and how to design approaches and products that are accessible and affordable to all, helping to make sanitation facilities appropriate to the context and ODF status sustainable in the long-term. The participants agreed on the pressing need to keep exploring new solutions in terms of sanitation finance and marketing, as well as to pursue formative research to identify what it is still unknown and also to work towards national strategies which encourage the integration of approaches to CLTS and WASH.

Florencia Rieiro in an independent WASH consultant

(All photos by Florencia Rieiro)

Date: 7 August 2018