Project background

In a country like Tanzania where up to 50 percent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water and 84 percent do not have access to toilet facilities that can be kept clean (JMP-UNICEF), innovations that can improve poor hygiene and help reduce preventable WASH-related diseases such as diarrhoea are much in demand. To address the poor sanitary conditions in the country, the Government of Tanzania embarked on a National Sanitation Campaign (NSC) under the Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) in 2011. The campaign aims to improve rural households with adequate water and sanitation facilities by combining the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach with behaviour change communication, as well as providing schools with improved access to clean water and toilets. While applying the CLTS approach to their WASH related projects in Mbeya Region, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) learned that the demand for latrines far outstripped their availability and the ‘youth sanitation entrepreneurs’ (YSE) they trained to build them lacked the business acumen and finance needed to develop their businesses.

Project description

To help address these issues, CRS is piloting a public private partnership (PPP) that will support rural communities in Mbeya Region to develop sustainable water supply and sanitation systems and work with them to raise awareness of the importance of good hygiene practices. The PPP between local government authorities, private sector partners, and international and local NGOs will focus on providing YSE with practical masonry skills as well business development ideas and financial literacy. The project will also encourage YSE to use smartphone technology to access latrine designs and market information, and to communicate with the project team via WhatsApp.

Project goals

The project seeks to improve the health outcomes of communities in Mbeya Region by:

  • Helping reduce mortality and morbidity rates: Up to one third of deaths in children under five years in Tanzania are related to poor hygiene. Sanitation has the second highest impact on reducing diarrhoea after hand-washing with soap (JMP-UNICEF). The project aims to reduce mortality and morbidity rates especially within the poorest and most vulnerable rural households by improving the sanitation services available to them and raising awareness of good hygiene practice.
  • Improving household wellbeing: Reductions in WASH-related diseases can have a positive impact on livelihoods of poor rural households and their communities, leading to social, economic and health benefits for all. A robust monitoring and evaluation system including field visits, regular programme reviews, and meetings with stakeholders is helping the project to track the impact of improved sanitation on household livelihoods and wellbeing.
  • Providing economic empowerment: From building toilets to maintaining their upkeep, improved sanitary services present a raft of livelihood opportunities for the community. The project supports vulnerable and at-risk youth, including young women, to develop sanitation businesses in order to help improve their economic security and contribute to household income.

Gender equity and social inclusion

Innovations that promote access to business financing and skills can empower women to expand and sustain their enterprises, leading to their better economic security. The project places young women at the center of its design, helping them to secure livelihood opportunities and act as role models for others within their communities.

Principles for digital development

Design for scale: Although the project has started small, CRS has designed for scale with the view of rolling out the innovation across Mbeya Region. By taking a partnership approach and involving a range of private and public sector partners from the outset, CRS can access the networks and tools needed to extend its outreach. The project concept is simple and flexible, allowing it to be adapted over time and in other contexts. Piloting the innovation in three sites allows the project to gather evidence and demonstrate impact before attempting to scale up.

Next steps

The project will continue to support communities in Mbeya Region working towards achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status and support YSEs to access business loans from the local government in order to expand their businesses beyond the three districts to other parts of the region. CRS will also continue to monitor the project’s progress, meeting regularly to analyze the performance data collected and discuss how the information can be used to adapt the innovation and take it to scale.

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