Problem Addressed

RICE WN’s program addresses the low latrine coverage and poor hygiene, especially hand washing practices, in households in rural Uganda; this includes selected sub counties in two districts of the West Nile region. These factors contribute to the high disease rate in these communities. Baseline surveys revealed that communities had latrine coverage of below 40% and proper hand washing after visiting latrine at under 5%.

Latrines in some areas are difficult to build because the communities are located in rocky areas, with collapsing soils and high water tables. When latrines do exist, they are often built with low-quality materials that can collapse during the rainy season. Few suppliers of high quality latrine materials exist in these areas, and communities are often not able to afford them in any case. Compounding this issue is the fact that some traditional communities do not prioritize the need for good sanitation and safe hygiene practices, and local governance on this issue is poor.

Innovative Approach

RICE-WN’s program is innovative in its use of demand-driven and behavior change approaches to improving sanitation practices in rural communities. They use community-led total sanitation (CLTS) to create demand for better sanitation practices in communities and also support village WASH committees to sustain behavior changes over the long-term. RICE-WN’s ability to link communities with micro-finance programs has enabled people to access higher-quality materials so they can build latrines and other facilities that last longer than previous models were able to do. RICE-WN places staff in these communities so they can work closely with the communities and make follow ups promptly.

Unfunded priorities:

+ Increasing coverage to other sub counties since there is limited in coverage due to lack of funding. Currently RICE-WN operates in only six sub counties in two districts that have fourteen sub counties.

+ Focusing on housing improvement as latrines are now looking better than houses where people sleep. Health concerns related to poor housing could replace hygiene related concerns in the near future.

+ Strengthening safe water supply is still not addressed because of the limited financing. Yet it is clear that water shortages heightened during dry season substantially undermine good hygiene and sanitation practices. Additionally safe water coverage for the two districts isn’t satisfactory yet: Maracha district is at 69.1% and Koboko district, 58.8%.

+ Promotion of safer and more environmentally-friendly technologies that may be a little more costly for the rural community such as the Eco san toilet, Pour flush, among others.

Program Solution

RICE-WN’s SSH4A program aims to create demand for good sanitation and hygiene for 100% coverage using appropriate approaches that suit the context of a given community based on their study/baseline survey and PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal) risk analysis. Among others, RICE-WN uses the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach for communities in rural settings with favorable soil conditions, as well as home improvement and hand washing campaigns to create demand for latrines and other sanitary facilities.

Following demand creation activities, RICE-WN strengthens the supply chain through linking communities to Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs) and private sector players who are able to supply construction materials to build sustainable latrines and other sanitary facilities. This is meant to address financial challenges and limited access to construction materials. Some VSLAs in the areas served have been trained to adopt sanitation as a business.

To address the community’s lack of prioritization of proper sanitary practices, RICE-WN employs behavior change communication for adoption of good hygiene practices using different approaches including drama, posters, radio talk shows, and working with various stakeholders such as women’s groups, influential community leaders, religious and opinion leaders, and school health clubs. RICE-WN also works to strengthen WASH governance through regular program review meetings with all stakeholders directly involved in the implementation at sub county level, participating in district level Water Sanitation Coordination Committee meetings to share implementation reports and plans, and advocating for low cost technological options to cater for vulnerable groups such as the disabled and elderly.

The outcome

+ 100% coverage for sanitary facilities such as latrine, hand washing facility and squat hole cover to ensure total elimination of open defecation.

+ Adoption of personal hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap during critical moments including: before eating, before cooking, before breastfeeding, after cleaning a child and after visiting toilets.

+ Establishing links with suppliers of materials for construction of good quality sanitary facilities and identification of local suppliers within the rural settings.