Understanding slippage #6: Eight strategies to address and prevent it


Many sanitation and hygiene programmes are confronted with slippage, which refers to a return to unhygienic behaviour, or the inability of community members to continue to meet all open defecation free (ODF) criteria. Join us as we explore this phenomenon in a seven-part series for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practitioners.

In last week’s article, we explored slippage monitoring. This week, we look at strategies to address and prevent slippage. The article is based on a chapter in a Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) reflection paper on slippage and sustainability.

When WASH programmes understand the patterns, root causes and the influencing factors of slippage better, they can come up with innovative and adapted strategies to tackle slippage.

The starting point for any strategy to address slippage is the focus on high-quality Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) facilitation. As the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar developed its CLTS facilitation process, significant effort was put into addressing slippage, while building community resilience and capacity.

Through high-quality CLTS facilitation, the programme has used these eight strategies to address and prevent slippage:

1. In-depth pre-triggering

GSF-supported programmes understand that not paying enough attention to the needs of vulnerable groups increases the risk of community slippage, as these groups face greater sanitation and hygiene challenges.

In-depth pre-triggering has been found to be one of the most effective ways to ensure an inclusive CLTS process, which can safeguard against slippage and drive sustainable behaviour change.

During this process, facilitators gather knowledge to better understand the demographics and subtleties of the community, to ensure that the triggering event that follows is as effective and dynamic as possible. Key activities in an in-depth pre-triggering exercise involve identifying vulnerable households and individuals as well as community solidarity systems that can support these groups.

2. Follow-up MANDONA

Follow-up MANDONA is a powerful post-triggering approach that encourages communities to take immediate action to address WASH issues and rapidly achieve and sustain ODF status. The approach brings the entire community together to analyze their sanitation situation, which then helps them immediately create locally-adapted facilities that prevent open defecation.

3. Local Community Governance

This approach fully transfers the leadership for maintaining, monitoring and sustaining sanitation improvements from the Sub-grantee to the community and local governance structures. For example, ‘asam-pokonolona’ – a deeply rooted tradition of collective community work in Madagascar – is adapted for the community to self-evaluate their sanitation situation and support one another to maintain ODF status. These activities are recorded through a household logbook and the village sanitation register.

4. Igniting a sanitation movement

Valuing local actors and generating a broad sanitation movement is essential for ending open defecation and sustaining ODF status. This includes strengthening, mobilizing and empowering emerging local champions to actively participate and effectively fight against open defecation within and beyond their own community. As an increasing number of actors become triggered, engaged, and organized, the movement for sustainable sanitation evolves into a self-driving movement.

5. Institutional Triggering

This is a powerful approach for building a broad sanitation movement involving decision makers and influential leaders within and beyond the WASH sector. Inspired by the same principles as community-level triggering, the approach shows institutional actors that poor sanitation in their country or local administrative area affects everyone, including them. Once triggered, they make public commitments to create an enabling environment for improving access to sanitation and hygiene for all.

6. U Approach for scaling up

This is a systematic methodology for reaching scale by triggering influential actors and institutions, and selecting strategic areas to build a strong base of ODF communities. The dynamic actors emerging from this strong base are then engaged to progressively scale up behaviour change achievements to other villages and administrative areas, until complete ODF coverage is achieved for the district. The approach creates a favourable environment for sustainability by promoting local ownership, local champions and sustainable technologies.

7. Behaviour Change Communication

Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) uses communications in a strategic way, to promote and sustain positive behaviour. In the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar, BCC materials and campaigns incorporate the same messages and emotional triggers used in the CLTS process. Examples include radio jingles and posters.

8. Sanitation Ladder Triggering and Sanitation Marketing

After communities have achieved ODF status, the next step is to improve sanitation facilities, to ensure sustainable access and behaviour. Sanitation Ladder Triggering uses the same principles as classic CLTS Triggering to ignite a collective desire to upgrade sanitation facilities. This helps prevent community members from slipping back to open defecation due to degraded, full or collapsed toilets. Sanitation Ladder Triggering builds on the existing local technologies, expertise, and leadership fostered during the journey to ODF status. In addition, this approach drives Sanitation Marketing, which covers everything from supporting small-scale WASH entrepreneurs and supply-side activities, to facilitating low-cost solutions implemented directly by latrine owners.

Join us next time as we wrap up our slippage series and highlight areas for further exploration.