Photo: Community-Led Total Sanitation Triggering in Togo. Sanitation programmes must promote the confidence and self-efficacy of those who are potentially disadvantaged, by involving them in decisions and encouraging their active participation throughout the sanitation and hygiene improvement process. ©WSSCC
How can water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practitioners ensure that people who may be disadvantaged benefit effectively from sanitation programmes? Ten principles, generated through WSSCC-supported learning and research, can help drive EQND forward.
- Recognize differences across all communities and look for those who might be excluded from the programme. Start to wear ‘glasses’ with lenses that allow you to see people who might be disadvantaged as part of the whole community.
- Adhere to the ‘do no harm’ concept to ensure that people do not become worse off as a result of the programme’s actions. Always listen to the voices of disadvantaged people, ensure people’s right to privacy, train partners on EQND issues, monitor and evaluate activities, and insure information is accessible to all.
- Respect all members of the community and ensure their dignity, even if you don’t agree with a person’s lifestyle.
- Consider the identification of disadvantage as a process rather than a one-off activity – use every contact with the community to consider if some people might be excluded, in what way, and what can be done about it.
- Consider how those who are potentially disadvantaged can be actively involved throughout the process (e.g. as Natural Leaders or committee members) and benefit from the outputs (e.g. the use of facilities and skills training).
- Encourage people to undertake tasks themselves wherever possible, to boost empowerment and self-confidence; but also recognize where external support is required, whether from the community or external to the community, ensuring that people who are disadvantaged are not put under unnecessary levels of stress and pressure.
- Be conscious about the power dynamics between community members and aware that some groups are deliberately excluded and marginalized by communities.
- External support should be provided transparently and should identify ways to enable community members to be involved in decision making on how it should be used.
- Collaborate with local organizations representing those who are disadvantaged and seek their advice and engagement with the programme.
- Continue to learn and build on experiences as to how best to include and benefit from the skills and knowledge of people who may be disadvantaged, and share this knowledge with others.
Look out for the next article in our EQND series, highlighting practical ‘dos and dont’s’ to ensure that people who may be disadvantaged are considered, involved and supported in sanitation programmes.