By Chainga Zulu
After having been certified and declared open defecation free (ODF) in 2021, Kaputa district held its celebration on Friday, 21st October 2022. The celebration was also used as an opportunity to recognize community members for their hardworking through the awarding of certificates to all the 212 head persons and Community Champions who pushed for such an achievement. This makes Kaputa the 5th ODF district (out of 116 districts) in Zambia. ODF is a situation when the entire communities have shifted to using toilets instead of open spaces, a highly undignifying practice. This practice is a common cause of diarrheal diseases as human waste usually returns to communities through many pathways and contaminates streams and wells, which in most cases, are the only source of drinking water. Despite more than a year having past from the time certification was made, the district has managed to sustain the achievement (for now) by having approaches that are encouraging people to climb the sanitation ladder and also be their ‘neighbours keepers’ in providing peer to peer sanitation compliance monitoring.
To show its commitment to ensuring that the entire country is by 2030, Government of Zambia rolled out the 2030 ODF Strategy and has courted many stakeholders to realize this vision. One of the approaches government and development agencies are using to achieve this the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), an innovative methodology for mobilizing communities to raise sanitation and hygiene standards in their localities. In Zambia, CLTS programming has been using a 3 Rope Approach (3RA) or 3-pronged approach as a facilitation management strategy with traditional leaders, civic leaders and technocrats forming a power influence triangle to scale up access to good sanitation.
The Kaputa achievement wouldn’t have been made possible without the leadership from traditional leaders – Senior Chief Kaputa and Chief Mukupa Katandula – who provided and continues to do so through a quarterly monitoring of all villages and weekly radio program dubbed Community Concerns, the backstopping by penalizing defaulters on the agreed-on by-laws which pushed for a greater sanitation coverage and positive CLTS outcomes. Working with District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (D-WASHE) committees, the project mobilizes communities to act on improving household sanitation and hygiene through the construction of toilets and installation of handwashing stations.
The private sector must see this as an opportunity for introducing and strengthening the sanitation value chain. This will reduce the possibility of slippage and provide people with wider sanitation options. ODF achievement involves to a great work of behavioural change, sustenance of which requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders.
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