Kenya conference raises awareness on sanitation and hygiene

Date: 12th November 2019

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WSSCC partners and members show case their work 

By: Kevin Mwanza

Members and partners display sanitary products to raise awareness on menstrual health and hygiene

NAIROBI, Kenya – A four-day conference in Nairobi with a special focus on sanitation offered a timely opportunity for WSSCC-supported partners to make a show of “splash” on their work to leave no one behind and engage with other diverse sector players from the governments, private sector and development agencies.

The Kenya Sanitation Conference, hosted by Kenya’s Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation between 28 and 31 October 2019, provided a platform for both public and private sanitation and hygiene-focused organizations to share their practical and innovative solution to the sanitation problem.

Alex Manyasi, WSSCC’s National Coordinator for Kenya, participated in a panel discussion organized by the FINISH Mondial and Amref Health Africa on policy and guidelines of fecal sludge management. Manyasi urged the government to highlight the benefits of fecal sludge management and its related products.

The Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (K-SHIP), funded by WSSCC, has been working to address these sanitation issues by promoting equity and inclusion, building capacity among communities, advocacy and communication, using evidence-based documentation and learning methods and coordination and collaboration.

In another session that sought to break down the barriers in accessing financing for sanitation projects, James Wicken, who heads WSSCC’s Global Policy, Advocacy and Innovation team, moderated a panel discussion on tools and strategies for prioritizing sanitation and what the private sector can do to help accelerate sanitation access.

The overall conclusion of the session was the need for collaborative effort and improved coordination from all stakeholders, moving from reliance on traditional sources of sanitation funding, and exploring issues of smart subsidies and sanitation subsidy programs that target the poorest of the poor in our communities.

Wajir County K-SHIP implementer and the new WASH Coordinator in the region, Shukri Issack shared learning points on how to reach the last mile in sanitation access by show casing successful implementation of K-SHIP in his region, one of the counties with the lowest sanitation levels according to the Ministry of Health.

George Ochieng from the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO) in Kwale County made a presentation called “the Unmet Sanitation Needs for the Socially Excluded Persons in the Coastal Kenya,” highlighting the need to include vulnerable people when designing sanitation programmes.

Famale participant in red moderates discussion on sanitation

Daniel Karanja, a WSSCC member whose work focuses on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), made a presentation on how men and boys can be engaged in the formulation of menstrual policy and guidelines to implementation of the same.

“Silence on menstruation is tantamount to denial of freedom of expression for women and girls,” he said, referring to a primary school girl in Kenya’s Bomet County who committed suicide because of menstrual shaming by her teacher.

Dominic Kinyanjui from Caritas Ngong, Narok County, made a presentation titled ‘Inclusive Sanitation Strategy through Village Sanitation Mapping’ in which he talked about a social assessment tool that utilizes mapping to help identify areas in villages that need support in achieving proper sanitation.

“The villagers draw the maps on the ground and using color codes indicate the open defecation site and other amenities in the society. Then using indicators, we identify the households to the least needy,” Kinyanjui said.

A total of seven papers were presented by both Amref Health Africa, WSSCC’s executing agency and K-SHIP’s implementing partners, in an effort to bolster the programme’s thought leadership role in the Kenyan WASH sector.

According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Report, over 70 percent of people in the East African nation of about 50 million do not have access to safe and clean water. With one in every 10 Kenyans still defecate in the open.

Already K-SHIP, a five-year programme that started in November 2014, has surpassed its target of reaching 1.92 million people with appropriate sanitation and hygiene interventions and have reached 1.95 million people so far.

Some 830 villages have been declared open defecation free (ODF) with 709,857 people now living in ODF environments and another 492,235 have access to improved sanitation, according to data presented at the Kenya Sanitation Conference by KSHIP’s Programme Manager Daniel Kurao.

A group of panelists at the Kenya sanitation conference 2019 discuss ways to improve sanitation and hygiene

But Kenya requires more than 100 billion shillings (US$1 billion) invested in sanitation infrastructure annually for the next decade in order to improve access to proper sanitation, in the country’s Deputy President William Ruto said in a speech read on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta during the opening of the conference.

“As we think sanitation, we need to think about people living in low water table areas, thinks of people living in slums and this are problems that this conference needs to address. Reaching the hard to reach, reaching the last mile is positive by itself,” said Kurao, who oversees K-SHIP under WSSCC executing agency Amref Health Africa.

He further made a call for the improved sanitation monitoring and reporting at all levels with a focus on “leaving no one behind.”

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