USAID Transform WASH teams up with Government of Ethiopia partners to visit Wore Illu Woreda.
During a field visit in October 2020, a group from USAID Transform WASH (T/WASH), the Federal Ministry of Health’s Hygiene and Environmental Health Directorate, and the Amhara Region Health Bureau’s Environmental Health Officer gathered to observe T/WASH activities in the Amhara region. This was market-based sanitation in action in the field.
During the visit, we saw toilets built with cement slabs and retrofitted with SATO pans, a self-sealing toilet pan that uses a mechanical and water seal to close off latrines from the external environment. We met the masons who built these toilets, we discussed with sales agents who stimulate the sales of sanitation products, and spoke with families who have benefited from these products. Along with all the successes, we also observed and heard about some challenges from the woreda and community.
Wore Illu Woreda, a local district in the region, has 20 rural and four urban kebeles (subdistricts). The USAID Transform WASH project is operating in 15 kebeles where the required capacity has been built for construction businesses that now offer sanitation products and services. The improved latrine coverage of the woreda is 61%, according to Bekele Tilaye, Wore Illu Woreda’s Hygiene and Sanitation Officer.
For the high-level delegates from national and regional offices, the visit was an opportunity to see and learn more about the implementation of market-based sanitation by the T/WASH project. We observed toilets consisting of a cement slab retrofitted with a SATO pan. These toilets are free from bad smells and flies. Near these toilets was a plastic pot for handwashing filled with water and with soap nearby. The toilets had a corrugated iron roof and door, and the walls were constructed from wood and mud.
In Kebele 09, we talked to several people to learn more about their sanitation experiences. One of them was Habtamu Yimer, a mason. Since October 2019, he has installed 192 concrete slabs constructed with SATO pans. He first constructed his own toilet and then did so for the kebele leaders. Gradually the community heard of his skills and requested him to upgrade their toilets. Mr. Habtamu is always communicating with the Kebele Health Extension Workers and sales agents to follow up on the demand created for improved toilets.
Merima Indris lives in Kebele 09. Last year, as soon as she received information about the SATO pan, she consulted her husband as she wanted one installed in her house. They had been using a toilet with a slab made from wood which was full of flies and smelled terrible. But after Mr. Habtamu built a toilet with a cement slab retrofitted with the SATO pan, their lives improved. Merima showed her two toilet rooms which every family member can use freely. She reported her family’s health has improved.
Beyenech Yimer, a sales agent, visits households to create demand for WASH products and services. She buys SATO pans from Mubarak Ali at a cost price of 180 birr and sells them to households for 200 birr, so she makes a small profit. After informing and persuading households of the benefits of sanitation products, they communicate with a local T/WASH-trained mason who can retrofit a SATO pan into their existing toilet with cement floor. For households that don’t have cement flooring yet, they can cover the extra expense by accessing loans through using a local village saving and loan association (VSLA), if one has been established. VSLAs are an effective demand creation initiative supported by T/WASH, who has established 28 VSLAs in Wore Illu Woreda.
In Segno Gebeya village, a village near Kebele 09, we met with Mubarak Ali, a shop owner and a member of an enterprise selling sanitation products. He sells various kinds of WASH products to sales agents and the community. His sales are improving gradually, and from all available WASH products, the SATO pan is the one he sells the most. He reported selling around 30 SATO pans per month, a significant improvement compared to the initial sales.
From the Woreda Health Office, we learned that coordination between their officials and the T/WASH team had led to improvements in market-based sanitation in their woreda. The Woreda Technical Team and the Woreda WASH Steering Committee are regularly monitoring and evaluating the project at both office and field levels. The Kebele WASH Team gets regular support and follow-up from the woreda. There is strong coordination and integration of sectors from the Office of Agriculture of the woreda down to the community.
So far 1,712 SATO pans, 17 plastic slabs, and 27 SATO stools were installed. 117 plastic handwashing products have been sold. The woreda’s goals for these products have been met fully for plastic slabs and SATO stools. The 1,712 SATO pans are 65% of their goal.
For the construction of latrines, 20 masons have been trained by T/WASH and are providing services. Sales agents are promoting door-to-door with support from HEWs in their community. A total of 13 women sales agents have been trained by T/WASH and are now operating in the area.
In three project kebeles, 28 VSLAs, comprising 332 female members, have been established with the support of T/WASH. The total amount of funds saved by the VSLAs’ members is 92,780 birr. 369 members have taken out loans for the purchase of sanitation products for a total amount of 87,000 birr.
Although positive observations were made during the visit such as the strong integration among sector offices and T/WASH which has led to more impactful implementation of the project at the community level, there is also room for some improvements.
In discussing with the woreda, it is recommended that there should be extra effort in promoting products. Scaling up the good achievements in the remaining kebeles should be taken up, particularly improving the number of SATO pans sold. They also want to expand beyond the three focus kebeles.
The SATO pans are valued as they are clean and attractive, but the low height of the toilets is not accessible to people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women, and the toilets with two seats need to have separate doors for privacy.
The woreda still has to work out a provision of finance or support for the destitute who cannot afford improved sanitation products and are not able to contribute to VSLAs to ensure that all have access, and that containment of waste is ensured. The provision of well-maintained public latrines also should be considered to meet total coverage for sanitation.
The Wore Illu Woreda Administration is not content with its performance so far and is planning to work hard on improving market-based sanitation to benefit the community. Inflation of cement and sand prices is a major bottleneck that prevented the woreda from achieving its target in all project kebeles.
This blog was compiled with inputs from Melaku Worku.
USAID Transform WASH aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes in Ethiopia by increasing market access to and sustained use of a broader spectrum of affordable WASH products and services, with a substantial focus on sanitation.
Transform WASH achieves this by transforming the market for low-cost quality WASH products and services: stimulating demand at the community level, strengthening supply chains, and improving the enabling environment for a vibrant private market.
USAID Transform WASH is a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, Plan International, and IRC WASH. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.