WATER, SANITATION & HYGIENE
The WASH Program is a central part of the holistic approach for creating the changes necessary to eradicate intestinal parasites. One of the main reasons that infrastructure based projects fail is the inability of the local community to maintain the infrastructure after the project is complete. In many cases where failure rates are high, the community members were not involved in the project and were not trained with the know-how to properly maintain the infrastructure.
Therefore, the NALA WASH project emphasizes:
Community ownership from the onset
Delegating and training local focal point-persons to maintain the infrastructure on a regular basis.
Ideally, all schools should have the proper infrastructure necessary to maintain a healthy environment. Unfortunately, that is not the case in many developing communities and therefore, the WASH program is of vital importance. In order for the WASH program to be successful on a long term basis, it is crucial for the local school and community to take ownership of the project.
This requires that they be involved in the process from its inception and have a key role in decision making. Thereby ensuring that solutions fit the challenges, and that the community obtains the know-how to maintain the facilities in the long run.
For the community to truly take an interest in the success of the project requires that the school, together with the community, invest in the project as well, and not simply receive it as a ‘gift’. One way is to have a certain percentage of the cost be provided by external funds and the remainder provided by the PTA and community of the given school - either in the form of money, or in the equivalent amount in labor and other type of contribution.
The collaboration between WASH and NTD sectors is vital for sustainable sanitation and disease control. However, for the most part, WASH and NTD sectors have been working separately and when the concept of collaborative interventions was first introduced, there was no means to bring these two sectors together. Starting in 2017, the situation has changed, and there are now platforms, governmental positions, and technical working groups to bring together the two sectors.
Still in the early stages, these platforms still have some ways to go, but could prove to effectively pool and sustainably use existing resources, collaborate and plan joint interventions, and eventually reach better results.
NALA has been a long-time partner in the efforts to promote WASH and NTD collaboration in Ethiopia. These programs focus on small-scale WASH projects in schools while also training local volunteers who work alongside Health Extension Workers (HEW), the Health Development Army (HDA), school staff, and students, to promote healthy behaviors to prevent NTDs. NALA, in partnership with other NGOs, the World Health Organization, and the Federal Ministry of Health has also been developing a national WASH-NTD coordination toolkit. This toolkit will be a more localized version of a global toolkit that is currently in development and will serve as a concrete resource to help with joint planning and supervision between WASH and NTD actors.