Is our approach to instituting sanitation programs broken? How efficient have the NGOs been so far?


  • Ian
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Re: Is our approach to instituting sanitation programs broken? How efficient have the NGOs been so far?

Interesting topic, thank you. My experience in South Africa and its neighbouring states may be of interest. South Africa embarked on a very intensive sanitation programme in about 2000 (it started picking up momentum about then). This attracted a number of entrepreneurs to design and build toilets to supply the growing government/municipal demand, resulting in a range of commercial products which try to gain a foot in the market. A few succeeded and have been widely adopted, while others dropped out. But because of the high demand from the market, the few that succeeded have made good profits. However they have often used the profits to both further improve their product and to plough funds back into a job creation component in the manufacture of the latrines. For example a supplier of prefabricated VIP latrines which can be rapidly assembled on-site and easily moved when the pit is full, started a number of small manufacturing businesses around the country employing people locally, and saving on transport costs. The interest of entrepreneurs is continuing with new products coming to the market every year. This has prompted municipalities to request suppliers for some certification of their products, which is done through an Agrement board where the product is certified for "fitness for use" if it meets the requirements.
Neighbouring countries have observed and seen which products are the best for their situation, and on occasions invited a supplier to supply some of their product in these countries.
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  • Doreen
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Re: Is our approach to instituting sanitation programs broken? How efficient have the NGOs been so far?

Dear Colleagues,

Here are a few comments from my end and based on my experience working in Kenya.

I think that many NGOs, donors etc.. have simply failed to grasp the need to anchor their activities in existing sector institutions. There is this mentality particularly within NGOs, that integrating their projects within institutions that are legally mandated to implement water supply and sanitation infrastructure within their jurisdiction will not work, or takes too much time or is just not feasible. This is simply not the case, particularly in a country like Kenya.

In my opinion, we need to move away from such. Kenya is not a country where NGOs can come to freely test their sub standard technologies that do not meet human rights criteria. Such projects hinder long-term development, have absolutely no focus on scaling up and the sanitation chain and to be honest are simply a mockery to the clients on the ground.

Without sound understanding of the sector and the long term needs, not only the institutions but the client needs too, then sanitation NGOs should not expect any effective impact at all.

Best regards,

Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
Policy Advisor in Bonn, Germany
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
E This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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