SustainableWASH.org

A global portal for advancing sustainability in WASH

Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Equity, Inclusion and Sustainability in WASH

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 16:45 -- Brian Banks

Aligned with the WASH Sustainability Charter, this webinar presented concrete and practical strategies and tools that can be used in WASH programming to ensure inclusivity across marginalized populations, including the poorest of the poor, orphans and vulnerable children, and women.

This webinar highlighted several key issues, including:

  • Empowering the Financially Marginalized: The Poorest of the Poor
        Jackie Powell, Agua Para la Salud
  •  Meeting the Unmet Needs: Orphans and Vulnerable Children
        Eric Stowe, a child's right  
  • Bridging the Gender Gap: Engaging Women for Sustainability
        Gretchen Wallace, Global Grassroots

The webinar was moderated by Lisa Schechtman from WaterAid America.

Tags: 

Comments

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

It is important to help donors recognize the critical impact of letting grassroots communities, especially women, lead local WASH initiatives. When grassroots change agents lead, they not only benefit from the financial success of their programs, but they build agency and confidence, they participate more frequently in local community meetings and take on more leadership roles, they use their skills to solve other issues of importance, they protect the vulnerable, they begin to alter gender relations in their families and communities, they mentor and teach others and contribute to a culture of self-sufficiency and social entrepreneurship. While donors occasionally seek the most technologically advanced solution for a particular site or community, if it undermines the process of local choice, participation, decision-making and ownership, it will be unlikely that it will be sustained by the community itself over time, and will likely forgo the many other benefits mentioned above. We need to support collaborations that seek change on a systemic level, that embrace a participatory development paradigm and that understand the holistic and multiple dimensions of impact of WASH programs. It is most helpful for donors to have the opportunity to visit successful programs and listen to local communities.

Submitted by Jackie Powell (not verified) on

I think it depends on the donor and their knowledge about the types of people that you’re working with on WASH sustainability in marginalized communities. I think at times it’s very difficult to communicate the challenges and opportunities from a world away without having the donor see it with his/her own eyes. I think sight visits are the only way for a donor to fully understand the situation at hand, the population in needs, and the possibilities for change.

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

In our experience, water ventures provide several benefits to livelihoods: (a) women can earn an income from operating a water business or pay themselves a salary for operating a water non-profit, (b) the time they save from having to collect water frees them up for other economic pursuits, (c) with more time, women and girls can return to school increasing their ability to obtain higher-paid jobs, (d) greater access to water ensures livestock and agriculture are more productive, (e) healthier families reduces the cost of health care, (f) profitable water ventures can provide start-up capital for new ventures or can establish local revolving credit funds, (g) a single water venture can incorporate multiple business in one, including water delivery, water purification, sanitizing water containers, selling soap and other related products associated with hygiene, and leading educational programs.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

How can education help break barriers to WASH access, despite extreme poverty that may itself be a barrier to educational access?

Submitted by Jackie Powell (not verified) on

In the case of the communities in Nebaj education is the first step to breaking the barriers to WASH access. Once these communities are told and re-told about how contamination affects in their natural environment and personal health they are more likely to realize how by organizing themselves around WASH issues they can drastically change their quality of life. Once these conversations are had, the communities are more likely to seek solutions to their WASH needs. They may seek these solutions within their community or elsewhere depending on the talents of the community members.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

What happens if the community is unable to pay for these large costs?

Submitted by Jackie Powell (not verified) on

If the community is unable to pay for large repair costs then they may either save money over a period of time, approach the local government for support, or request funding from a local NGO. To better leverage the situation the community would use all three tactics.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

You said that re-training is imperative, and you do these once a year – is that a pre-condition of doing the projects? How often do you follow-up with a community once a project has concluded?

Submitted by Eric Stowe (not verified) on

Re-training is now in all of our MOAs moving forward, due the low adoption rates we have seen in years prior. So it is a part of the contract we sign with sites we undertake hygiene education.
In terms of basic follow up, our monitoring frequency is actually pretty high now- every 3 months for the first two years after project implementation and then every 6 months thereafter with a minimum ten-year commitment to each site.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Who pays for the follow-up visit? and do your donors typically support long-term involvement even if you can’t show immediate results?

Submitted by Eric Stowe (not verified) on

We factor in ten-year monitoring in our grant proposals- it simply falls under our M&E line items and is inseparable from the proposal.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Where does your belief in water access being a basic human right fit in with the idea of treating water as an economic good? Do you believe these two are mutually exclusive?

Submitted by Eric Stowe (not verified) on

I definitely believe safe water is a human right, rather than a luxury. But I have no issue with the market being integrated into the access discussion. It doesn't mean I am in favor of egregious pricing for impoverished communities- the idea of treating water as an economic good wouldn't promote that either, I believe.
It is about appropriate pricing for services/product rendered/produced and in our case every site we work with (whether a school, orphanage, hospital, or feeding center) already pays some form of monthly fees for their water access (well, tanker, municipal, etc.) and some form of fee for water treatment through our organization. Those costs are calculated in their annual budgets accordingly.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Could you say more about your experience with hygiene behavior change communication to help stem spread of disease in close quarters? Are you linked up with clinics or BCC trainers or finding more success working internally?

Submitted by Eric Stowe (not verified) on

In general terms, our model to date is to partner with those groups doing the most innovative work on hygiene in the communities/countries where we work, take from their best practices, excise the pieces we find superfluous, mix in what we have found productive in the past, and end up with a curriculum made of all these pieces.
For example, in Nepal we worked with NEWAH (Nepal Water and Health) for a year learning from, and working with, their hygiene educators. We took what was useful and contextually relevant, got rid of what wasn't, added in curriculum from Project WET, and rounded it all out with our own programmatic and aesthetic designs to come up with a robust hygiene platform. We are now training staff on this in Kathmandu and assessing where we are still deficient prior to rolling out at scale.
To the point, we link with outside trainers during the development stages of the hygiene program, but find more success doing the work internally with our own educators training the staff and children who will be inside the institutions. As mentioned in the talk, this works well in isolation, but doesn't have the staying power without refreshers/retraining year after year.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Can you speak briefly about the challenges of including women in project design and ongoing management?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

One challenge of working with undereducated women is the need for capacity building in financial management of social ventures. Their dedication to social change, their understanding of social issues and their design of culturally appropriate solutions is without question. But to ensure long-term sustainability, it often requires collaboration to determine the best methods for bookkeeping, budgeting and financial analysis that ensures good decision-making and overall management. Another challenge is understanding the multiple obligations that women have, and adjusting expectations related to the pace of development and stoppages necessary for other purposes, including birth, care of relatives, seasonal farming needs, and other life circumstances.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Do you see sexual violence intersecting with lack of sanitation? Could you say more about this dynamic?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

Yes, we often see issues of sexual violence intersecting with the lack of safe access to sanitation facilities, especially for girls in schools. Several of our ventures are being led by teachers who, in investigating the increased rates of girls dropping out of school, discovered a frightening level of sexual violence, spying, harassment and bullying of girls in unsafe, shared latrines. In latrines that are not exclusively for the use of girls, which do not have locks or appropriate privacy, or are located in either too remote or too conspicuous locations, girls are being spied on and attacked by boys. Further, a lack of understanding of reproductive health means girls who reach the age of menstruation and have neither access to sanitary supplies nor access to water when they stain their clothes at school also become the target of stigma and harassment. Girls choose instead to stay home one week per month, and as they fall behind in school, are more likely to drop out altogether.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

How does "letting women lead" work practically in male-dominated cultures? Their leadership is affected by culture – can you provide examples of successes in developing countries with diversified cultures?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

In our experience with Global Grassroots, especially in rural Rwanda, because women are designing their own interventions, they are determining the most culturally appropriate delivery mechanisms, they are defining the next steps they feel most comfortable advancing for women’s rights and they are protecting the most vulnerable within their communities. They often choose to engage men in the operations of their venture as well as target men in their program services. As a result, they are not only demonstrating that women can lead inclusively, but they are changing gender relations within their families and communities.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Can you give a specific example of a project where women had a leadership role and this showed demonstrated sustainability?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

Let me share two stories, one in water and the other in sanitation:
WATER: In a rural community called Gahanga on the outskirts of mountainous Kigali, a team of 19 women called “Hard Workers” including their leader Seraphine Hacimana, were troubled by the long journey women embarked upon each day to collect water. Rwanda is a spectacular, mountainous country. And in Gahanga, like many parts of Rwanda, women rarely have a water source near the home, so must walk 3-4 miles down a hillside to collect water at a dirty valley creek. In addition to the disease and poor hygiene associated with poor water access, many of those who were left physically disabled by the war and those who are elderly, blind, pregnant or HIV positive are too weak to make this journey. In this area, a service has sprung up where local men agree to deliver water on bicycles for a fee. But if a woman cannot afford to pay, as one woman told us: “your children are coming home from school for lunch and you have no water to cook them rice and beans. And so, you do what you have to do.” In fact, many women end up having to exchange sex water delivery, just to feed their children.
In 2007, with our social entrepreneurship training, an initial $2600 grant and ongoing high-engagement support, Hard Workers designed their own non-profit water solution. They installed a water tank next to a church within close walking distance of this remote community to collect and purify rainwater from the roof during the rainy season. In the dry season, they pay for clean water to be delivered by truck from the city. Hard Workers supplies 100 households (totaling between 800 – 1000 people) with fresh clean water daily. The revenue generated from those who can afford to pay, ensures the most vulnerable, including the blind, pregnant, disabled and elderly always have water for free. The organization is focused not only on ending sexual exploitation for water, but ensuring the elimination of water-borne disease and protecting girls’ ability to attend school. Further, the team uses any profits to pay orphan school fees and provide annual health insurance for vulnerable women and their families. Since the establishment of their non-profit operations, the organization has also been able to spin off a small revolving loan fund for vulnerable women, start a community garden and establish a brick-making venture. The team members, some even widows in their 70s, sleep side-by-side in shifts each night to protect their tanks from people stealing their water. The venture has become so valuable to the community that even some of the village men have asked to join the project, and occasionally when a woman is sick, their husbands will take their shift guarding the tanks at night.
In its fifth year of operations, the venture is still operating sustainably as a social-purpose non-profit and recently completed an expansion to three additional sites. Hard Workers now serves a total 6000 people, protecting even more women from sexual exploitation. Women from as far as three hours away have traveled to visit the team to see how they were able to initiate their project alone. Project leader Seraphine has spoken on the radio about water issues, was been invited to Kenya to share their solution, and was recently recognized by local officials as an example of women serving other women in their communities. What is most remarkable about this team is that of its 19 members, only 7 are actually literate. And Seraphine is a mother of 8 children in her 40s with only a 1st grade education. Once living on the edge of survival, Hard Workers are now seen as the first to bring development to their remote community, and are asked to advise regularly on other areas of local need.
*****
SANITATION: In 2007, Médiatrice Mushimiyimana was teaching English to the sixth year students (ages 13-16) at Byimana Primary School in rural Rwanda. Many of her female students were struggling in class or dropping out of school, so began to think critically about the issue. “That made me think about the reason why – to identify the problems the girls are facing. Why are they not passing well in class?” Girls who were menstruating were spied on by boys in the dilapidated latrines shared by both sexes. Boys would walk in on a girl and forcibly remove her clothes or just laugh and taunt her. Girls were not attending school during their periods out of shame and fear of embarrassment. They missed several days each month and fell behind. “I realized that maybe the problem is that [the girls] don’t feel safe at school all the time,” Médiatrice explains.
Médiatrice and her fellow teachers formed a team they named “Think About the Young Girls”, and applied to and attended Global Grassroots’ Academy for Conscious Change. With their training, they developed a three-pronged solution: (1) New, safe, separate sex school latrines and shower facilities, (2) Workshops for parents on reproductive health and girls’ biological needs, and (3) Workshops for community members and restaurant and bar owners on gender issues and the need for separate sex toilets.
Since 2009, Think About the Young Girls has trained nearly 1000 students, parents, teachers and community members in reproductive health issues facing girls. The venture built new safe latrines and a shower facility, serving 635 girls. Their work inspired two new anti-violence clubs to be started by students and local business owners. Finally, the venture has had an astounding impact on girls’ matriculation. In 2008 only 14.7% of girls had passed their national exams. In 2009, 76% passed. In 2010, 87.5 % girls passed the exam. Think About the Young Girls continues to work to solve obstacles to girls’ education, including violence, obstacles to study and malnutrition. As a result of her leadership on Think About the Young Girls, the local officials funded the building of new latrines for the boys as well, and Médiatrice was promoted to headmaster.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

I recently sat down with the founder of Water for South Sudan and he said they have experienced that when a village gets a well for the first time; the village itself takes on construction and management of schools, clinics, and markets near the well, because now they see these as possible. Have you had similar experiences and how have they played out?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

Somewhat related, what we have seen is that when women develop and operate their own water ventures, they use them as points of intervention for other issues involving women when women gather for water daily. As one example, one of our water ventures, called Have a Good Life, conducted an issue study locally on the issue of sexual exploitation in exchange for water delivery. To their shock, they found that of those surveyed 82% had traded sex for water and 100% knew of someone who had contracted HIV from doing so, yet only 25% had ever taken an HIV test. As a result, the team initiated an HIV/AIDS and sexual violence education program in their community at their water access point. While we have not yet seen other community establishments being built near the water access points that we have sponsored, we have seen change agents begin to take on additional issues within their community, applying their problem-solving and social entrepreneurship skills in developing new services. We believe this iterative problem-solving process is indicative of a shift in perspective regarding what is possible that results when a change agent has one successful experience transforming their community.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

How do women in the Rwanda project determine which women require subsidized water and which can afford to pay? Do the women apply formal or informal criteria, or is there a government vulnerability designation?

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

The women in our ventures tend to work collaboratively with women throughout their community to select the most vulnerable for the receipt of services. Occasionally we will find a group that has decided to consult with their local church or local officials, but it is always their choice to do so and their decisions about the criteria they apply for selection. Usually the process is conducted by group discussion and vote, and most often decided by consensus. We are rarely involved in those decisions, and support our teams in the design of their own programming, as they are established as non-profit ventures with a social mission that drives their work.

Submitted by Brian Banks on

What specific mechanisms help enhance financial sustainability (or are there resources that can help answer this)?

Submitted by Jackie Powell (not verified) on

I think there are many good models the help enhance financial sustainability when trying to reach marginalized populations. However, I think there are many more models that have yet to be created. I think there is a lot of room in this area of innovation. Micro credit and graduation models for providing WASH services is one newer model being tried out by BRAC in Bangladesh to address the WASH needs of the poorest of the poor.

Submitted by Gretchen Wallace (not verified) on

There are several principles of what we call “creative resourcing” that can assist a venture in determining how to generate the funds needed to cover their ongoing operating expenses from their own community. These include:
1.Identifying Unique Assets – consider anything you have – a skill, a tool, a space, a talent, a person of influence, a piece of equipment – as an asset and consider how to utilize them to generate income, trade for something you need, create products to sell, or offer a service
2.Mobilizing In-Kind Resources – you can work to obtain every item you need to operate via donation, or collect in-kind donations that can be sold or used as raw materials for something else of need
3.Using Fee-for-Service Strategies - you can charge a flat fee, a sliding scale or disaggregate services for each target market so you underwrite those offered to the poor by charging for more specialized offerings to those who can pay
4.Leveraging Waste – consider what in the community is typically wasted and look for ways to turn it into a raw material for another need to be sold, traded or utilized
5.Investing in Renewable Resources for Ongoing Income – what investments can continue to generate income over time, such as fruit trees, animal offspring or animal products, etc.
6.Building Upon Local Traditions – consider local traditions that may help you mobilize volunteer labor or engage people’s interest in making contributions
7.Sponsorship & Events – look for ways to break down your expenses into sizable components that can be sponsored by individual donors, consider events that can generate income and visibility
8.Stakeholders – consider the stakeholders that share a common interest and look for a value proposition that can solicit their engagement

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Field experiences tell that multiple benefits to community are important for WASH sustainability. Therefore, what kind of evidence basis exists for multiple uses of water contributions to improved livelihoods?

Submitted by Brian Banks on

Do you see that donors understand the unique challenges and opportunities of WASH sustainability in marginalized communities?

Submitted by MonicaN. on

In U.s there are more female motorist than men according to the University of Michigan's Transportation Research.This reverses a gender gap that has existed behind the wheel for a long time, notes the Associated Press. Researchers claim that the driver's license shift will have substantial impacts on safety technology and economics. Get more information at: https://personalmoneynetwork.com