UN-HABITAT has launched a project in the Lake Victoria region to help accelerate access to improved sanitation for poor women and vulnerable households through a micro credit/revolving fund scheme.
Homabay Usalama 11-13 May, 2007
In Kenya, the project, which was launched from 8 – 12 December 2008 is being implemented in Bondo, Homa bay and Kisii through a partnership with a non governmental organisation, Sustainable Aid in Africa International (SANA).
In Uganda, the project will be implemented by Uganda Environmental Protection Forum (UEPF) in Nyendo, Masaka, Kyotera and Mutukula, while in Tanzania, the project will be implemented by another non governmental organisation, KATEDFU, in Bukoba, Muleba and Mutukula.
The project under the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative has received financial support from the Government of Netherlands. It will focus on household latrines for poor women and vulnerable headed households of Community Based Organizations identified by the Multi Stakeholders Forum in each town.
It will use local expertise and available local building materials. It will take into account capacity building at all levels of the community, which includes health hygiene promotion, community awareness programmes, training of community members in project planning and management, book keeping, savings and credit management, etc. It will also encourage needs – based development wherein new facilities are provided while at the same time upgrading the existing facilities.
Why micro loans for sanitation?
In most cases, policy makers talk about water and sanitation as if they were one and the same thing. Water, without which nothing on earth can survive, is popularly desired and its supply is politically backed above all life supporting services. But sanitation remains the poor relation. Neither people nor politicians want to engage with sanitation, however necessary it may be.
Achieving the internationally agreed target 10 for sanitation and hygiene poses a significant challenge to the Lake Victoria Region Secondary Towns and can only be accomplished if political will and concerted actions by all stakeholders are clear on how to improve sanitation services for the most poor, in particular female headed households.
Why sanitation micro credit for women?
In most cultures in the Lake Victoria Region, women have the primary responsibility for water, sanitation and hygiene at the household level. For them, sanitation means more than just latrines: they want safe private places with sufficient water for personal use and washing clothes and better drainage to avoid dirty water remaining in the streets. Unhygienic public toilets and latrines threaten the health of women, who are prone to reproductive tract infections caused by poor sanitation. On the other hand, women play a crucial role in influencing the hygiene behaviours of young children. The effective use of sanitation facilities will therefore depend on the involvement of both women and men in selecting the location and technology of such facilities.
The sanitation Micro-Credit /Revolving Fund project recognises that sanitation is much more than the construction of sanitary facilities. It entails fundamental and sustained change in people’s behaviours. A demand responsive approach that raises the priority that people themselves give to sanitation will be promoted.
The project will also support and provide health and hygiene education that will enable people to improve their health through correct hygienic practices, which eventually will lead to increased demand for appropriate sanitation facilities.
Under the Water for African Cities project, consultations were held with Programme Steering committees, women groups and potential implementing partners for the sanitation micro credit revolving fund scheme for female-headed households in Harar, Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, Jos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana, Yaoundé in Cameroun.
Following on these consultations, potential implementing partners have been identified, project documents have been finalised and are awaiting approval for implementation to commence on the ground in the five cities. Similar initiatives are far advanced in Bamako Mali, Dakar Senegal and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Overall, the Water for African Cities project is expected to improve access to sanitation for 45,000 persons under the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation initiative, and 49,000 persons under the Water for Africa Cities II programme.