Community-led Total sanitation (CLTS) is used in over 40 countries all over the world, one of them being Kenya, where it is currently used as a national sanitation policy. CLTS was first introduced in Kajiado in 2011 and so far, results have been mixed. In 2014, around one fourth of the total population still practiced open defecation in some wards, this percentage is much higher.
Next to the many well-known health risks that poor sanitation brings with it, it also negatively affects the economic performance of the county. It is estimated that on a yearly basis, KES 542 million is lost in Kajiado due to poor sanitation facilities. Within the national ODF 2020 roadmap, Kajiado County aims to reduce the rate of OD from 25.7% to 10%.
This means that around 100,000 people should gain access to (basic) sanitation over the next couple of years. As it can be seen from these statistics, there is huge potential for CLTS to contribute to improving Kajiado sanitation situation. However, not much is known about the barriers that prevent successful implementation of CLTS, especially not in the context of the Maasai culture and the dry land ecology in Kajiado.
Therefore, WAK and AMREF together decided to conduct a research that aimed to provide more insight into why CLTS implementation in Kajiado is not always successful. They did this by using the following research question: What are some of the possible barriers that hinder successful implementation of CLTS in the Maasai community in Kajiado County in Kenya?
The research question was approached using two different points of view. Firstly, the barriers perceived by the implementers were investigated. Stakeholders involved in the implementation of CLTS at different levels (national government, county government, and NGOs) were interviewed ,which provided information on what they believed are or experienced to be the barriers. The interviewees are involved with CLTS at various levels, and therefore this allowed for comparison on whether they perceived the barriers to be similar and if not, what the differences are. Secondly, focus groups were conducted with local communities in Kajiado that are currently in the process of becoming ODF after having been triggered.
The focus groups provided insights in the difficulties that the community experience in improving their sanitation situation and their thoughts on CLTS. The barriers that where identified to prevent successful implementation of CLTS were then categorized analyzed using the FIETS sustainability model.
The FIETS model aim at measuring sustainability by looking at the following five elements: financial, institutional, environmental, technical and social. By paying attention to each of these five in the implementation of projects as well as monitoring and evaluation, the international WASH Alliance aims to identify and solve possible barriers of implementation, thereby ensuring an overall sustainable approach.
It was found that the majority of the barriers identified are related to the social and institutional elements of the sustainability model. Many key informants indicated that it remains unclear to what extent they can adjust the guidelines to the specific cultural and environmental context of implementation. This unclarity causes the risk that implementers will all make individual decisions on how they adjust the national guidelines to local contexts and will therefore all use a somewhat different approach. Doubts were raised about whether the uniform approach of CLTS as designed on the national level makes sense in the context of rural Kajiado and this is something that should be evaluated. The other notable concern was the quality of pre-triggering.
Without sufficient community mobilization and information on the (social) structure, the cultural background and the current sanitation situation of the community, one will not be able to perform the triggering session properly. During this process of pre-triggering, a good facilitator is essential.
Various key informants argued that some of the focus points of CLTS are not in line with the specificities of the Maasai context. Also, implementers could take more advantage of the social structures of the Maasai communities and work closely together with them, which could help more successful CLTS implementation.
Practical problems, such as lack of funds for transport, a lack of technical knowledge within the local communities on how to construct sanitation and too little provision of information on this topic during triggering and relatively few human resources at county level were also identified. According to several interviewee, solving these issues with for example more finding of staff, would be very helpful for successful CLTS implementation in the country.
To improve the success of CLTS implementation in the pastoralist communities in rural Kajiado, several other things could also be done. More attention has to be paid to how CLTS should be applied in specific cultural and environmental contexts and how optimal use can be made of the community’s strong points and resources. It should be investigated how partnership and cooperation with communities can be further strengthened. Also, the idea of how the national sanitation policy will be (further) domesticated to the specific social and environmental context on the county level and what the roles of both the national as well as the Kajiado Ministry of Health in this should be is something that needs to be further discussed.
This discussion on how to successfully implement a national guideline at a local level should take into account the information of the varying success rates and should specifically look at the roles of the different levels of government. This evaluation process should start with information sharing, so that everyone is informed about the different barriers experienced by both the community and the different implementing partners.
This, in combination with more clarity on how the guidelines should be followed, will most likely increase the effectiveness of CLTS implementation. It is agreed that CLTS has the potential to significantly improve Kenya’s and Kajiado sanitation situation, but how it should be implemented exactly in relation to specific cultural and environmental contexts is something that should be further explored.
Anouk de Vries- WASH Alliance Kenya.