Improving Equitable Access and Coverage of Hygiene and Sanitation Practices in Rural Communities

In the following write-up, Dr Roma Chilengi, CIDRZ’s Director of Health Systems and Primary Care highlights CIDRZ’s objectives in its sanitation programmes and the advantages of implementing the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) model.

CIDRZ has partnered with UNICEF to work with the Government of Zambia, to improve equitable access and coverage of hygiene and sanitation practices in the rural communities of Chongwe and Kafue districts. Through the implementation of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and School-Led Total Sanitation (SLTS) programmes, CIDRZ will collaborate to ensure that:

  •  150,633 people have improved access to sanitation and hygiene facilities and have their own household latrines
  • 20,859 school children in 24 schools have improved access to sanitation and hygiene facilities through construction of 190 Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines with hand washing facilities

The ambitious goal of this programme is to objectively demonstrate that targeted villages attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) status”, that is, each household must have a toilet (with a lid and super structure), as well as a hand washing facility.

 Lessons Learnt

Such apparently simple interventions can help avert diarrhoeal disease if appropriately implemented. The CLTS model comes with several key lessons:

  • To be sustainable, communities themselves must build and own their own toilets
  • The involvement of traditional leaders, especially village headmen and chiefs as opposed to civic leaders is key
  • Use proven triggering process and ensure trained professionals verify and certify ODF status
  •  With appropriate strategies, ODF can be achieved in most rural places through cost efficient strategies
  • CLTS champions need to be recognised and made proud as agents of change.

Appropriate toilets and hand washing with soap are key transmission breakers for most causes of diarrhoeal diseases and CIDRZ not only recognizes that; it is in the forefront to support primary prevention; PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!

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