In part 1 I gave a brief introduction into what SLTS is and its objectives as well as talking about the different components of SLTS. If you missed part 1 you can read it here. Today I’m going to write about the strategy used for SLTS. One thing that I wanted to say, and that I may have mentioned last time, is that I’m not entirely in agreement about some of the strategy used with SLTS. Basically, the SLTS strategy is centered on shaming people into giving up open defecation. While this methodology has been successful in the past, I have a problem with making people feel bad about themselves in order to change their behavior. Why should someone who’s been practicing open defecation all their lives because they haven’t had access to proper sanitation facilities be made to feel bad because of this action? Yes, it’s not healthy, but these people aren’t doing anything morally wrong, and I think it’s wrong to make them feel bad about it instead of educating them in order to get them to change. Saying that, even if you take that aspect out there are still a lot of good parts within SLTS that can be used to establish open defecation free zones.
There are six different parts to the strategy behind SLTS. Because SLTS is a participatory program the strategy is based on getting the community involved and mobilized to make some real change within their community. So let’ look at the different parts.
- Participation of Stakeholders: During this stage the stakeholders, which could include local government bodies, NGOs, community groups or private sector groups, are identified and mobilized to build their ownership and ensure their participation in policy development, planning, implementation, and after the project is over monitoring and evaluation. The stakeholders are organized into a structure with three groups: state level, children level, and women level. These groups will have different roles throughout the process, but they are all interrelated and work together in a partnership to support each other. This partnership will ensure that each group is participating, resources are being mobilized and the activities of the groups and everyone in the community are monitored. Below is a visual representation of this concept.
- Partnership with Other Development Programs: this part is responsible for finding ways to acquire the resources that will be needed to have a successful program since in most cases it will not be possible for the school or community to provide all of the resources without some kind of mobilization. Therefore, the pairing of SLTS activities with income generating activities, micro credit programs, agricultural extensions, collective saving schemes, community forestry, WATSAN, adult education, etc. are crucial to overcoming this resource gap and providing everything required for a successful program.
- Participatory Tools: Participation is the key to the SLTS program, and getting the community involved is necessary for success. Along with the ignition tools I talked about in part 1 there are a number of other tools that can be used to raise awareness about proper sanitation and hygiene within the school and community. These include community meetings, door-to-door informal discussions, and even plays or performances put on for the community. You can also have, as part of a community meeting, a time where you recognize people who have built a latrine and have stopped practicing open defecation, and maybe have some sort of rewards program to go along with that. SLTS also uses the community members as a tool to learn who has continued to practice open defecation, however, this may not work everywhere and could lead to tension within the community if someone is publicly singled out and ridiculed. Instead, maybe a better approach is to have a place where people can anonymously point out someone is still practicing open defecation and then a small group from one of the committees can go talk to that person one-on-one. Also, sharing stories of success, either from within the community or from other communities that are within the geographical region that you’re working in, can be very motivating. One other tool is called the Sanitation Multiple Table. This is a table that is set up at the school and includes hygiene items such as soap, towels, combs, nail cutters, water, etc. It is set up at the school as a reminder to parents dropping off their children, as well as to the students themselves, that they should be practicing proper hygiene, and can be used by anyone with the aim of speeding up the pace of sanitation and hygiene promotion. They can also be set up throughout the community for people who do not frequent the school.
- Capacity Development: This is an important step to make sure your stakeholders are technically knowledgeable and skilled to identify their resources, roles and responsibilities. Once the stakeholders are more knowledgeable they will be able to better notice problems within the community and come up with appropriate solutions, as well as coming up with new and creative ways to help the program succeed long term. This capacity development should come in the form of orientation, training, workshops, discussions, and walks through the community to expose stakeholders to the problems. The training and orientation is designed for three different “levels”:
- School and VCD level: The school and the students are where everything starts with SLTS. At this level, the student clubs, teachers, women’s groups, parent groups, and volunteers are trained to enable them to identify their roles and responsibilities, coordinate with other stakeholders, and forming and implementing actions to promote proper hygiene and sanitation. A big part of this orientation is to show people success stories, and then show them what’s going on in their community. This is a huge motivator and shows people that things can change to make their community more healthy and happy.
- District level: This level involves getting local governments involved and committed to the program. It includes beginning to coordinate between this group and others in order to mobilize resources. The groups within this level can be very important in having a successful program because besides having their own resources they often have contacts outside of the community that could be useful.
- Central level: if the area you’re working in has a sanitation council they will be critical in developing policies and plans within the community. The sanitation council can be instrumental in distributing information packets, and mobilizing resources. If there is one person within the council that is taking responsibility of your community then they help institutionalize the SLTS program.
- Advocacy and Awareness: Bringing awareness to the sanitation and hygiene problem is the meat of SLTS and motivates communities to take action collectively. Most of the parts of the advocacy and awareness strategy have been mentioned previously in part 1 as ignition tools. Other things that can be proposed include demonstrations of different latrine designs and sanitation practices, handing out fliers about the dangers of not practicing proper hygiene, or organizing a community sanitation day or week. Also, local entrepreneurs can be encouraged to set up sanitation stores which can provide technical advice, hygiene products and information, and materials that can be used to construct latrines.
- Resource Mobilization: It has been found that subsidizing latrine construction usually does not benefit the community, mostly because when things are just handed to people it takes away their sense of ownership and lessens motivation. Because of this it is very important to be able to construct latrines using resources from within the community. The schools, where the program will start, should come up with innovative ways to facilitate and encourage the community to come up with ways to create their own resources. To motivate people, monetary rewards can be given to the school once they have established proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. This money can be used to promote hygiene and sanitation activities and raise more money. Then this practice can be used to also reward people who have built their own latrines. The practice of reward and recognition has been proven to motivate people and help facilitate successful projects.
Now that I’ve gone through the strategy I hope you have a better idea how to implement SLTS where you are. This write up is fairly brief and I would encourage you to take a look at the sources listed below for more details into different types of activities and step-by-step descriptions of the entire process. If you have been involved in the implementation of SLTS in the past please leave a comment and let me know how it worked out for you. Like everything in life, SLTS isn’t perfect, but the tools included in the program can be very useful in ending open defecation in communities around the world forever. Thanks for reading.
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