In Surinam during 2011 we (Autry Haines, April Foster and me) facilitated a WASH program with 20 villages in the interior. We cooperated with the Surinam Red Cross, The PeaceCorps, FOB and Unicef. Core to the program was the integration of CLCP and the International Red Cross WASH program named PHAST. As this prorgram is well on its way I wanted to share my learning with you. It became quite a document so probably suited for those who really want to get into WASH and are interested in combining CLCP and PHAST, If you want to read the manual we created and which integrated CLCP and PHAST please send me a mail, also if you want to learn more on the program we did, I'll be happy to share all about it.
- Facilitating the process:
- Focus on behavior. WASH dreams are very materialistic, like electricity, toilets and a particular type of water system. This means that it is a challenge to focus on behaviors and attitude in the self assessment framework. A practice like clean water is much more than building a water system. Have conversations around this during the “health problems in the community” and “How diseases spread” exercise.
- Find low hanging fruit. Like the practice of getting used to hygienic behavior. In particular relieving themselves in holes they dig and maintain. This way they will easily progress in using the toilets that might be installed later.
- Make sure the trainers practice as to not cut corners. Phast and CLCP integrated really works well but is a more complicated process then any of them separate. It can be made to look easy when really well understood and mastered. We noticed that the trainers sometimes skipped parts in the field because the training didn’t suffice and it wasn’t clear why a particular exercise was valuable or how it needed to be executed.
- Do the exercises as many times as needed. Check if everyone understands and how it changed their attitude. “Blocking the spread” and “Selecting the barriers” are important exercises. A facilitator might want to do this with different communities within the village.
- Leverage the momentum of the drive for clean water. Whilst villages mobilize themselves around the dream of having clear water through a well run water system, the challenge is to also be aware and make progress in other practices. The team, including the village facilitators made good use of the time that was needed for technical analysis and financial analysis to focus on other practices. This way the villages showed a lot more progress.
- Mobilize those who make the difference. In Suriname the women are important in mobilizing and creating change as the men are either in the city or working in their businesses. With WASH this seems ever more so the case, as children are mostly concern of the women.
- Look for cooperation. Villages can help each other with these big challenges. We worked in teams of 5 villages . It turned out that some villages could share the same system or for example support each other in maintaining them, as a back-up.
- The manual:
- Reduce exercise options. The manual turned out to be too long with too many options of exercises. We need to simplify it and make choices in the exercises (less exercises). We thought to give the trainers options so they could choose depending on what was needed. This was confusing.
- Bring in the manual during the training, bit by bit. We tried to do this but for logistical reasons couldn’t. We ended up handing out most of the manual at the end of class. This made it for some people hard to relate to the manual. We need to take them through the manual during the training, step by step. Otherwise it will remain unused by the bigger part of the trainers.
- Create a toolkit for every trainer or team. Make a copy of all the drawings and create one set for every team. Number them and laminate the cards so they won’t get all dirty in the process.
- Make and share pictures. Ask facilitators and village people to make pictures of progress. This gives them a sense of pride and enables us and them to share with other villages. Create collages of this inspirational pictures to bring with you on the next visit.
- Bring in technical knowledge at the right moment in the process. Villages don’t know what’s needed nor what the costs are of certain systems. They have a dream that is mostly related to a neighboring village. They understand the benefits of different systems and want the most expensive system. So pushback needs to be given based on what’s needed and budgets. This is a challenging conversation. We had an engineer with us on the 4th visit, which was the step of prioritizing. The engineer connects with the person who was once trained to maintain the current water system, which in all cases was broken down.
- Be honest about progress. As these projects are complicated and are executed with different partners chances are program planning will change. As it did in our project, to not demobilize the communities, manage expectations and stay in contact, also when no progress is made at the end of the sponsors.
- Stay in contact. In Suriname all facilitators have a mobile phone. Make sure the trainers have enough budget to text with the facilitators. Do not wait for the next visit to ask how they’re doing with a particular practice. Trainers also need to have time for this.
- Involve communities in measuring progress. Although UNICEF has it’s own measurement system this is really hard to grasp for the facilitators. When they create their own measurements they also want to report back.