Madagascar’s open defecation free quest to include those left behind

Date: 16th September 2019

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By Joséa Ratsirarson

Any activity at a village to end open defecation takes everyone’s participation. That’s what an executing agency in Madagascar, supported by WSSCC, strongly believes as they carry out its open defecation free programme throughout the country.

The programme body in Antananarivo known as Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA), or the Sanitation Support Fund, has been incorporating the pivotal concept of equality and non-discrimination into its Community-Led Total Sanitation projects since 2017. The CLTS is a participatory approach for a whole community to end open defecation sustainably on their own terms.

For example, as part of CLTS, when facilitators organize “triggering,” which is a realization process by communities that open defecation is causing them to unknowingly take in each other’s fecal matters, they systematically take into account the vulnerable people.

“Especially when we conduct a mapping activity with villagers, we make sure that those left behind are clearly identified in the drawing, addressing inclusive hygiene and sanitation programming,” says Dr. Joelina Ratefinjanahary, CLTS coordinator at the Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement.

Mapping activity: vulnerable marked in red (red circles), home of a person absent during the triggering session marked in blue (photo: Dr Joséa/FAA)

Facilitators also raise a set of questions to concretize the issue of the marginalized people. “What would you think of these vulnerable that you mentioned in relation to the actions you have decided?” “Would they be able to do them too?” These types of questions would drive the community to reflect on additional action points to include everyone in accessing appropriate sanitation.

In addition, implementing partners would take stock of vulnerability data, which will be entered into the information system that helps keep track of progress on inclusive decisions and actions.

“Often, the existence of vulnerable people is a shame for the family or the community,” says Dr. Ratefinjanahary, emphasizing the importance of strong trust building exercises to identify and discuss the cases of potentially disadvantaged people.

“In a way, the fact of identifying vulnerable people might be already a form of discrimination. But once we ask questions in a respectful way and the presence of vulnerable people is validated by the community, discussions about them are no longer an obstacle,” Dr. Ratefinjanahary said.

Asked about the impact of the equality and non-discrimination approach, Dr. Ratefinjanahary says that the recognition and consideration of vulnerable people not only enables to reach their sanitation needs effectively but also contributes to the sustainability of the village’s open defecation free status, making them fundamental elements in the process of change.

In November 2018, one of WSSCC’s implementing partners initiated a triggering activity in the village of Talata Ampano, paying special attention to the vulnerable people.

Mr. Solo, on the far right and in the foreground (photo: Dr Joséa/FAA)

Solo, who had a disability in his lower limbs, had participated in this triggering session. Soon after, he built his own latrine. He now holds an important place among villagers as a reference as far as sanitation and hygiene are concerned.

“I am amazed by the fact that now, I take part in the sanitation committee of our village and villagers seem to be paying attention to my sanitation advice, which is unimaginable five years ago,” stated Solo.


Adrienne Rabemanantsoa, Bakoarintsoa Randimbison, Aimé Randriamanalina, Rija Fanomeza and Jeremia Rakotozafy contributed to the story.


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