GSF: taking a good thing and making it better

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This week, more than 40 professionals involved in Global Sanitation Funded (GSF)-work in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia are meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi, for the first full-scale “GSF Learning and Sharing Event.”

The Global Sanitation Fund is a pooled global fund established to gather and direct finance to national programmes that help large numbers of poor people to attain safe sanitation services and adopt good hygiene practices. To date, the first 750,000 people of a planned 14 million people in eight countries have access to and are using improved toilets, among other leading indicators of progress. 

The process of starting up innovative, demand-led programmes which achieve sustainable results through sanitation and hygiene awareness raising, behaviour change programming, and more, has been instructive and fruitful, says Mark Willis, the GSF Programme Manager at WSSCC.

“This meeting gives us an opportunity to talk constructively and share initial learning and reflections on the GSF structure, systems and programmes with our partners,” he said. “It also provides an opportunity for the wider WSSCC to listen and learn from the experience of the GSF partners, in order to better understand challenges being faced and support needs going forward.”

The participants come from key partners implementing programmes in the countries. These include representatives from Executing Agencies, which manage the programmes nationally; the Country Programme Monitors, which report on and verify the performance of the programme in the country; and the Programme Coordinating Mechanisms, which are stakeholder groups of NGOs, government officials and others who have helped design the national programme.

The event enables the sharing and learning of lessons on the implementation of sanitation and hygiene related programmes.  Specific programme topics include how to improve and make good use of results that come through regular programme monitoring and evaluation and how to link the knowledge gained to WSSCC’s wider organizational work. Through detailed presentations, interactive exercises, group sessions, partners are reinforcing and aligning their common understanding of the expectations of the GSF.

On Monday, 10 September, the Honourable Minister for Water Development and Irrigation, Mr. Ritchie Muheya, opened the event officially on behalf of the Government of Malawi. He praised the programme as a national-led effort that links and unites the country’s sanitation and hygiene professionals behind a purposeful and impactful programme developed by Malawians.  

As of 30 June 2012, the Global Sanitation Fund supports large-scale sanitation and hygiene work in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Senegal and Uganda. In those countries, 94 GSF sub-grantees – NGOs and community based organizations – have raised awareness of sanitation and hygiene in a number of targeted regions in each country. As a result of this sub-grantee work, the first 752,897 people of a planned 14 million people have access to and are using improved toilets, among other leading indicators of progress. Partners from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mali, Kenya and Togo are also attending, although their national programmes have not been launched formally.

Look for more information from the event in the days and weeks to come, including photos, videos and a final report.