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'That is why we are not moving'

Published on: 10/02/2015

Thinking critically about how you do your work and seeing the bigger picture towards which you are working, can improve the effectiveness of your work.

In the project 'Action Research for Learning', reflection is done in yearly workshops based on information collected by the project implementing organisations. What are our objectives? Are we achieving these? If not, why not? What can we do to improve?

In the last week of January, CLIP and New Energy, two Ghanaian partner organisations of the Dutch WASH Alliance and their partner organizations came together in Tamale, north Ghana, to assess the effectiveness of their own programs. The workshop was part of a 3-year Action Research launched in 2013 aiming to improve the effectiveness of Dutch WASH Alliance partner's interventions on community empowerment in WASH.

IRC is supporting and strengthen the capacities of CLIP and New Energy and their partners in action-research, analysis, reporting and critical thinking. The idea is that action research helps the practitioners find solutions themselves, reflecting on concrete situations from the field. It combines the understanding of the problem (research) and the implementation of solutions (action) at the same time.

In 2014 CLIP and New Energy and their local partners collected information on progress made on community empowerment in WASH in the communities they work with. Data collection was done by staff of CLIP and New Energy and through Community Based Monitoring. Community Based Monitoring allows members of a community affected by an intervention to generate demands, suggestions, critiques and data that they then feed back to the organization implementing the project. Ideally this is driven by local information needs and community values, to increase the accountability and quality of services or to contribute to the management of resources.

So what have we learned?

Example 1

CLIP and its three partner organisations Clip Deco, Urbanet, and TaMa (all based in Tamale, north Ghana) aim to reduce Open Defecation and improve hygiene and sanitation practices. This is done by increasing access to and use of sustainable sanitation facilities. In January 2014, CLIP and partners through data analysis in the form of a workshop facilitated by IRC realised that there is a need to add capacity building of communities' champions on advocacy to their intervention strategy in order to better enable them to advocate for issues in their community sanitation plans.

In October 2014, CLIP and their partners organised training for community champions on how to advocate for developmental projects from duty bearers. The training also included best practices on sensitization of communities on hygiene and sanitation and how to document issues and to enable them to do Community Based Monitoring. They also provided training to natural leaders and School Health Education Program (SHEP) clubs on budget tracking of District Assembly on WASH interventions for their schools.

Through data collection and analysis in the middle of 2015 we will see if these strategies have had a positive impact towards reducing Open Defecation and improvement of hygiene and sanitation practices.

Example 2

New Energy and its four partner organisations Presby Water Project, AFORD, GYAM, and SIMLI AID aim to achieve open defecation-free communities by undertaking Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) processes in these communities since 2011. Data analysis conducted during the workshop in January 2015 showed that in all communities surveyed Open Defecation was still happening, especially among children.

Reflecting in group discussions, it was realized that the current sanitation technologies which are promoted are not accessible to children under the age of seven. One participant remarked; 'Yes, that is why we are not moving'. The need was discussed to devise a strategy to allow children to access WASH facilities. More sensitization of both adults and children was also considered needed as community workers observed that children were also afraid to use latrines.

Through data collection and analysis in the middle of 2015 we will see if there has been progress in reducing Open Defecation, especially among children.

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