Understanding slippage #7: Eight recommendations going forward


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.  

This week we conclude our seven-part series on slippage, where we have explored this phenomenon to provide best practice on how to prevent it from happening. The series is based on the Global Sanitation Fund's 2016 reflection paper, Sanitation and Hygiene Behaviour at Scale:  Understanding Slippage.

Photo: Triggering a community in Madagascar. Going forward, the GSF will continue to support close engagement with communities in order to explore slippage patterns, determine community dynamics and sustain good sanitation and hygiene behaviours. Credit: WSSCC

In our slippage series we have defined and explored its nuances, explored its links with community behaviour change, identified common patterns, discussed monitoring methods, and outlined eight strategies to address and prevent it.

With this understanding and evidence, how do we as WASH practitioners move forward? Given the complexities of slippage across GSF-supported programmes, the authors of the slippage paper recommend eight areas for further exploration:

  1. Measure the impact of visual/observable slippage on behaviour change and health indicators.
  2. Assess the impact of slippage on community health: is there a critical tipping point when output-level slippage no longer has a significant effect on impact-level slippage (read more)?
  3. Explore slippage patterns, dynamics, behaviour change journeys and sustainability factors in specific communities, to better understand contextual factors.
  4. Understand what strategies and tools can be used or developed to empower people to move up the ‘behaviour change ladder’ (read more). How can programmes assess the depth of behaviour change? Reaching ODF is perhaps the first rung on the behaviour change ladder. What are the subsequent rungs, and how can they be facilitated and monitored?
  5. Determine how to use slippage and ODF verification data to improve programmes and advance sector learning. What are the implications of such data on programme planning, implementation and evaluation?
  6. Establish vigorous, harmonized and participatory monitoring and verification systems at reasonable financial and human resource costs. These systems should include agreed definitions that take into consideration aspects of slippage beyond one-time snapshots of visual slippage. Is there such a thing as an ideal standardized methodology, given that slippage is context-specific and varied?
  7. Determine how to effectively design systems for monitoring at scale, while acknowledging sustainability, quality and scale as inseparable elements that constantly reinforce each other.
  8. Explore the correlation between the quality of implementation, the involvement of local governments and slippage rates. This includes examining the quality of pre-triggering, Triggering, follow-ups and most importantly, CLTS facilitation (read more).

The GSF is committed to supporting sustainable sanitation and hygiene behaviour change. The Fund will therefore continue to deepen its understanding of slippage and sustainability factors, patterns and monitoring, while further developing and assessing strategies to address and prevent slippage. To this end, a number of research projects are ongoing or foreseen. These include individual country studies on the sustainability of behaviour change, the development and testing of indicators and monitoring methodologies as part of the revised GSF Results Framework, and outcome surveys in different countries. In addition, continued peer-to-peer learning and cross-country exchanges will serve as incubators for strategically addressing slippage.