SRF gets people excited in Balaka

People from TA Amidu in Balaka have expressed their excitement for having a Sanitation Revolving Fund (SRF) facility in their area following the launch of the initiative by A Self Help Initiative Programme (ASAP) who are working in association with Design Management Consultants (DMC).

ASAP and DMC are a new partner to the GSF Programme in Malawi responsible for piloting the Sanitation Business Model (SMB) in six selected Traditional Authorities (TAs), one from each ASHPP district.

The SRF, which is basically a loan facility established to heighten sanitation marketing in the programme is geared to support sanitation entrepreneurs to serve communities demanding improved sanitation services and for households to afford them. The idea behind the initiative is to increase the number of people accessing improved sanitation and hygiene while empowering communities to sustainably manage sanitation activities on their own.

The prospect of owning improved latrines under the programme has excited many people in TA Amidu one of whom a 65-year-old woman, Mary Ali. According to Mary, she cannot wait to get a loan for herself because the latrine she currently owns is not the best she can have.

“My latrine is okay, but if there is an option for a better one I can definitely opt for that.

“It is great that you have brought this opportunity to have well-built and strong latrines that do not crumble down, because most of the places here have bad soils and basic latrines don’t last.

“I think most people will find this facility useful because everybody would want to have a good latrine with a cement slab,” said Ms. Ali.

Essentially, the SRFs under the Sanitation Business Model will use marketing, financing and Information communication and education to stimulate demand and supply of sanitation and hygiene services/products in the areas involved. A locally selected team will manage the SRF while access to and re-payment of funds will be through Loan Agents in form of existing Community based Savings and Credit Institutions (CBSCIs). The Traditional leadership with support from the District Coordination Team (DCT) will provide oversight and technical advice.

While the facility is expected to provide a blue print for rural sanitation financing in the programme and beyond, its implementation won’t be a stroll in the park.

Sanitation and Hygiene Technical Specialist for ASHPP, Twitty Munkhondia acknowledges that there will be challenges one of which is the time available for the pilot to show results.

“We might have challenges setting up working SRFs in the communities because they require intensive capacity building and close monitoring. At the same time, the people, the beneficiaries themselves also have to be well communicated to, to join community based credit institutions and access the loans. All this will take some time.

“And when they get the loans, we could be grappling with others defaulting repayment and choking up the facility,” said Mr. Munkhondia.

Nonetheless, if the SRF works according to plan, ASHPP stands to provide a remarkable breakthrough to dealing with one of the major challenges facing the Water and Sanitation Sector on Malawi – poverty. With the poverty rate currently at 50.7 percent according to the 2015 Human Development Index Report, solutions targeting sanitation financing for rural communities are a key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number 6.