ASHPP strategizes for three-district ODF

ASHPP’s target of achieving ODF for three districts by June 2017 has never looked realistic. So much promising progress is being made in the target districts of Balaka, Nkhotakota and Rumphi where partners and communities have been very dedicated to chalk historical milestones for their districts.

To support these initiatives, ASHPP’s Programme Coordinating Mechanism (PCM) together with the Executing Agency (EA), Plan International Malawi, have been conducting monitoring exercises to engage stakeholders and enhance their coordination, commitment and synergy towards achieving ODF with improved sanitation facilities in their districts.

One of the exercises to this end is the district interface meeting in which the PCM and EA engages with the District Council, Chiefs and WaSH sector players in the district to identify bottlenecks and solutions for ODF progress. On November 11 and 18, two interface meetings were held in Nkhotakota and Balaka respectively.

Generally, the meetings were a follow-up to the June 2016 district mobilisation exercise by PCM and EA in which district leaderships, chiefs and sector players came together to make commitments towards making their districts open defecation free by June 2017.

Drawing from the interface meetings, the major challenge making prospects for district ODF bleak is lack of presence of sanitation and hygiene partners in some parts of the districts. In Nkhotakota, for example, TA Kafuzira does not have a partner to carry out follow-ups and sanitation and hygiene campaigns, although previously there was a partner that triggered part of the area. In Balaka, the same problem is also present in TA Nkaya and TA Nsamala, the only two TAs yet to become ODF in the district.

Other challenges identified include latrines collapsing due to bad soil and weak community leadership which often leads to laxity in enforcing compliance to community WASH bylaws.

Following the meetings, strategic action plans have been developed by stakeholders in both districts that emphasise mobilising resources to reach out to the uncovered areas, strengthening leadership and community action for households to change altitudes and practices, as well as using creative ideas in constructing durable latrines.

Other strategies include partners to continue facilitating regular meetings for chiefs at various levels to ensure regular monitoring of progress. Partners also have to conduct training in data collection for community level actors like natural leaders and extension workers to improve monitoring and reporting.

In Balaka, Chiefs that have already achieved ODF status with their communities have actually agreed to come together and make concerted door-to-door follow-up exercises in TA Nkaya and TA Nsamala to ensure that remaining households build their own latrines and that requisite structures are in place for a sustainable ODF status.

Accordingly, the EA is already coordinating that the strategies be implemented in due course and ensure that the districts achieve ODF as planned.

Highlights

  • In Nkhotakota, over 226,000 people out of about 390,000 are already living in ODF environments and the district is officially at 43% ODF (582 villages out of 1,342).
  • Of Nkhotakota’s 6 TAs, 4 have been certified ODF by the National ODF Taskforce (NOTF), and 2 are almost ready to undergo the verification process.
  • District statistics however, indicate that latrine coverage in Nkhotakota is at 90% (81% basic, and 9% improved) while prevalence of handwashing facilities is at 67%.
  • In Balaka, over 331,000 people out of the total population of about 410,000 (81%) are living in ODF environments.
  • With 8 of its 10 TAs already ODF, the district is already at over 78% ODF.
  • In Rumphi, 3 TAs out of 11 are officially ODF, although in the remaining 8 TAs many villages are already ODF.
  • The Ministry of Health has promised to award the first district to achieve ODF with a clean water supply project