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Learning to do better

Published on: 08/12/2015

Communities in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Bangladesh are en route to better health with the help of local NGOs.

Rubbish in Awash bus station before construction of community showers and toilets and communal showers ready for handover in 2012. Copyright: Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia

A few years ago visitors to Awash in northern Ethiopia may have mistaken the local bus station for a rubbish dump. Now bus travellers and nearby slum residents have access to clean community showers and toilets managed by local young entrepreneurs. This transformation was made possible with the help of Amref Health Africa, a local NGO supported by the Dutch WASH Alliance with finance from the Dutch government. The NGO not only built public showers, but also managed to convince pastoralists to adopt simple pit latrines instead of open defecation and local government to increase the budget for safe water, sanitation and hygiene by a third.

There are similar success stories from local NGOs working in Ghana, Uganda and Bangladesh. All benefitted from the Action-Research for Learning initiative of the Dutch WASH Alliance. The initiative stimulated the NGOs to learn from what they are doing and improve their programmes.

In Awash, Amref Health Africa learned that the young entrepreneurs needed financial training to better manage the toilet and shower blocks. In Ghana, the Community Life Improvement Programme (CLIP) introduced a credit scheme to help poor families build household toilets. NGOs in Uganda used radio spots to highlight the importance of paying for water. Uttaran in Bangladesh involved community members and students in collecting information on hygiene, sanitation and water to get a better understanding of the effects of their work.

Community empowerment is an important outcome for the Action-Research for Learning initiative. Uganda is a good example. Communities in Kabarole district know their rights and successfully demanded better water services.

Back in Awash, the district government is so pleased with the transformation of the bus station from a rubbish dump to a clean and green environment that they have approved additional land for expansion of the toilet and shower facilities.

To learn more, read the four case studies written for the Dutch WASH Alliance by IRC in collaboration with local NGOs:

About the Dutch WASH Alliance

The Dutch WASH Alliance is a consortium of Dutch NGOs working towards a society in which everybody has sustainable access to clean water and hygienic sanitation. Amref Flying Doctors, Simavi, Akvo, ICCO, RAIN and WASTE co-ordinate work with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of their programmes and learn together.

The Dutch WASH Alliance is financially backed by the Dutch government.

In June 2015, the Dutch WASH Alliance announced it will continue after 2015 under the new name: WASH Alliance International.

Resources