Supporting the Project Soaiegna – A Community Led Approach to Address the Urgent Sanitation Situation in Ambinanikely, South East Madagascar

Project location: MADAGASCAR, Ambinanikely
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: September 2013
Project number: 2012-042
Beneficiary: AZAFADY

September 2012 - March 2013

Project Soaiegna is addressing the urgent sanitation situation in Ambinanikely, one of the poorest fokontanys[1] in Fort Dauphin, where the majority of households do not have access to a latrine and so use public spaces to defecate. The project forms the first phase of Azafady's urban sanitation strategy which aims to create an environment in which local communities choose to eliminate open defecation for themselves, and Azafady is motivating and supporting 200 households in Ambinanikely to build, use and maintain their own latrines through community awareness raising and mobilisation activities alongside construction assistance. The project is the first in Fort Dauphin to combine Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) with subsidised infrastructure and is a vital opportunity for Azafady to pilot the new approach before scaling it up to the rest of the town.
Meetings with the chef de fokontany (fokontany head) and other local opinion leaders were held at the outset to introduce the project and gain their opinions and support. This highlighted the intensity of the support needed and, in order to maximise the effectiveness of the project's participatory approach, Azafady adapted their original strategy to work with smaller groups rather than the community as a whole. Priority areas were identified and the fokontany was divided into three working zones accordingly. To date, activities have been realised in the first and most urgent zone and the team expects to expand into zone two this month and to zone three over the coming months.
Using CLTS tools, Azafady's skilled Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) encouraged people in zone one to consider the cleanliness of their environment, stimulating discussion about sanitation issues and evoking strong motivating emotions of pride and shame to ‘trigger' people to take action. Everyone concluded that open defecation was making their community an unpleasant place to live. The CLOs encouraged people to share their problems concerning dirt and smell, building a sense of disgust amongst participants who were then supported to develop an action plan to address open defecation within their community. Many identified latrines as essential but prohibitively expensive and at this point the CLOs introduced Azafady's proposals to help households construct latrines. Azafady's CLOs visited all interested households to assess their eligibility, after which the construction team supported each of the eligible households to build their latrine, providing technical guidance and overseeing construction to ensure the quality and longevity of facilities built.
Alongside construction activities, the CLOs began regular visits to beneficiary households, providing support during the period of transition from lifelong open defecation to latrine use. These visits also monitored construction progress, household participation, and motivated beneficiaries to complete work within the timeframes agreed by Azafady and the community. CLO visits will continue throughout the project, adapted to complement concurrent activities.
In addition, Azafady's CLOs are running workshops at Ambinanikely's primary school to encourage children - potentially powerful agents of change - to adopt safe hygiene practices. To date, an introductory workshop has been held with each class, the school is being supported to develop a latrine cleaning schedule, and teachers are being encouraged to move away from using latrine cleaning as a punishment.
Continuous monitoring is being conducted through CLO visits and surveys to assess the success of activities and track beneficiary participation. Team meetings are held weekly to discuss progress, setbacks and the week's activities, and to share experiences to enable others to adapt their practices accordingly. Monthly meetings are also held with the Heads of Community Health and Construction, Director of Programmes and Operations and project development specialists to review progress, reflect on learning and discuss future activities. Because of the innovative nature of the approach, lessons are frequently being learned and fed back into the project to improve activities.
Following ‘triggering', 75 households signed up for the 60 latrines offered to zone one. 56 of these met the eligibility criteria, with the remaining 2 of the 58 current beneficiaries taken from a waiting list of households who had not attended the triggering but expressed interest shortly afterwards in participating.
Concrete pits for all 58 zone one latrines have been completed and construction of the superstructure and installation of the SanPlats (Sanitation Platforms) is well underway. However, unlike in rural areas, many of the beneficiaries have little or no construction experience and are requiring more extensive technical support than anticipated. Consequently, construction is progressing slower than planned. To mitigate this Azafady have employed additional members of the construction team who have now been trained.
Latrine construction in zone one is scheduled for completion by mid-April, at which point zone two will have been triggered and be ready to begin construction. Beneficiary households in zone one have shown encouraging levels of motivation, with 83% meeting both the signup and payment deadlines. Two particularly motivated households completed their latrines ahead of schedule, collecting SanPlats from Azafady early and self-funding construction of the superstructure.
Unfortuntely 25% of those who expressed interest in building a latrine did not meet Azafady's criteria, and it is vital that those without enough land for a latrine are supported to identify alternative means to end open defecation. Community consultations are being held to explore appropriate actions, which may include helping people to negotiate terms for using neighbours' latrines or supporting them to build a shared latrine amongst themselves.
Monitoring, evaluation and learning is an integral part of Project Soaiegna as it seeks to trial and refine this new approach to urban sanitation. Following the identification of zone one's beneficiaries, a baseline survey was completed with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike. Results from this have been used to inform project activities; for example, at the start of the project, 44% of beneficiaries believed latrines were dangerous for children to use, highlighting the need to address this. An end of project survey will be conducted upon completion of the initiative to evaluate any changes and assess whether these can be attributed to the project itself.
In addition to expanding the activities described above to zones two and three, CLOs will maintain motivation throughout through focus groups with small working groups of beneficiary households and household visits, concentrating on practical discussions of barriers to latrine use and ways to overcome them. Fostering a sense of collective action and self-help, participants will be encouraged to share ideas about latrine maintenance and emptying and how to motivate others to adopt improved hygiene behaviours, and CLOs will support them to develop leaflets, posters and slogans to spread key messages.
The working groups will also be supported to conduct participatory monitoring exercises: mapping the community, assessing each other's progress, rating latrine cleanliness and checking evidence of hand washing. The results of these will be posted on public notice boards, drawing again on the motivating factors of pride and shame that have made CLTS so effective in rural areas.
Finally, a mass mobilisation will be held at the end of the project to publicly celebrate Ambinanikely's achievements. The event is expected to generate interest from neighbouring communities, creating an important platform for Azafady to build on in future urban sanitation projects which will be developed incorporating the learning from Project Soaiegna activities.

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