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IRC partners with CRS on sanitation marketing training

Published on: 23/05/2014

The developments in the sanitation sector are moving quickly. We are seeing some interesting new further development within the sector emerging. As cited in the last blog on the Uganda Unclogging the blockages of sanitation workshop, there is a new wave of freshness in the air in which we see the link of sanitation attracting other stakeholders namely also coming from the private sector.

We have just had a most interesting workshop with CRS (Catholic Relief Services) focusing on training a number of their senior staff in the area of sanitation marketing which was held in Addis, Ethiopia. CRS, as one of the leading NGOs, as is also the case with PLAN and a few others, in the development sector whom are playing a strong role in bringing this important discussion to the table by training its staff to focus on sanitation marketing within their programmes. In the case of CRS this training was for African colleagues from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti and Tanzania.

So why is this important? Well, it can be argued that we are at a new pinnacle point in the further development of focusing on sustainable sanitation. Over the years, we have seen the development of CLTS emerging in various countries around the world. Since 2006, in 17 countries throughout East, Southern, West and Central Africa, for example, Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has been tested as an approach to sanitation improvement. Although there are fairly wide adaptations, for the most part CLTS is based on the premise that sanitation is a household and community responsibility.

This specific training with CRS has focused on where CLTS stops and sanitation marketing starts. Clearly we do have some way to go in getting better at "striking the balance" in terms of the role of the public, provider and private (individual/ household/ community) interests and benefits linked up across the sanitation chain in order to make sustainable sanitation services that last a reality. This ultimately means that a supply chain needs to be well developed and competitive, and address increased demand for sanitation-related services across the full sanitation life-cycle—including construction, maintenance, upgrading and emptying—including not only the setup of sanitation markets, desludging businesses and masonry entrepreneurship but also sustainable design of and material for sanitation facilities, The supply chain can be supported by the private sector or by public-private partnerships, evolving around masons, artisans and other local entrepreneurs.

No one will argue (I think) that we don't have a way to go, but having said that it is through our enthusiasm and commitment to want to make a difference in a sub-sector that is often not only underrated but also underestimated that we can move forward. For those interested in this "so what" debate, I would argue that we need to remain critical but optimistic in reflecting how we can move towards sustainable sanitation (everyone forever!) and see how all key stakeholders can be involved. For further information on the sanitation marketing training refer to the blog posted on


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