Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

December 7, 2010

Campaigning waves on World Toilet Day in Nepal

Filed under: Campaigns,Citizen Action — Tags: , , , — Shikha Shrestha @ 4:10 pm

When I joined WaterAid in Nepal just two years ago, I was sorry to hear that more than half of Nepalis still defecate in open areas each morning, and shocked to learn that 10,500 children under five are dying each year in this country from preventable diseases like diarrhea and cholera. The JMP Report 2010 states that the world is off track in meeting the sanitation related MDG targets and sadly, the same is true for Nepal.

To raise awareness of the importance of sanitation worldwide, World Toilet Day was started in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization. The campaign takes place on November 19th each year and this year, WaterAid Nepal and our partners wanted to do something a bit different.

We wanted to facilitate innovative campaigning at a local level, so we began by developing guidelines for our local partners, encompassing things like campaign objectives, key statistics and campaigning ideas. These were translated and contextualized in local languages by Federation of Water and Sanitation Users Nepal (FEDWASUN).

All this early work paid off! In the early morning of November 19, students from three different community schools were out on the roads in Dhading and Pyuthan, carrying placards with toilet and sanitation slogans.

Three other rallies were organized by FEDWASUN in the market areas of Dhanding, Pyuthan and Dang, with around 2000 people from very diverse backgrounds taking part. To give you an idea, participants included the Chief District Officer, political leaders, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and Army personnel, to name but a few. Chief District Officer, Pyuthan animated the crowd when he said that “World Toilet Day campaign should be continued for achieving target of declaring Pyuthan as Open Defecation Free zone by 2013. Chief District Office will be committed to provide all the possible support to continue to the momentum”.

We were keen not to limit the campaign to organized rallies though, so we supplied our partners with ideas, hoping to inspire their creativity – and it worked!

FEDWASUN Makwanpur decided to use the platform to share findings from their analysis on the status of toilet provision. Baglung district chapter held a sanitation themed folk song competition and a protest program, organized by children at the District Education Office (DEO) to demand easy toilet access in schools. Dang also organized a protest program at the DEO, handing an appeal letter demanding school toilets to the Chief District Officer. And Lumanti- Support Group for Shelter, in partnership with Biratnagar municipality, used the campaign to teach children about good hygiene behaviour.

Monitoring the success of campaigns has always been a bit of a challenge for us so this time, we agreed on several success indicators to measure its effectiveness.

If you’re interested in the results of the campaign, I can tell you that our success indicator for ‘campaigning with creativity’ was surpassed! We also surpassed our target for ‘presence of high profile and decision makers’. The target for ‘media coverage of the campaign’ was met but we fell slightly short of our target for the number of participants (ie. 500 per district). In terms of monitoring any changes made, we feel that this was just the beginning. We think that coordinating agencies should be mapping any changes made in terms of access to sanitation services as a result of increased political commitment and financing in the sector, but I’d be interested in our readers’ thoughts…

Written by Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy and Research Officer, WaterAid in Nepal

August 11, 2010

Claiming campaign changes, is it possible?

Filed under: Advocacy,Campaigns — Tags: , — Shikha Shrestha @ 11:53 am

People desire appreciations that motivate them to give their fullest potential and lead life with pride of their competencies.  Some people tend to be very conscious of their accomplishments and they articulate well that project them as successful citizen. On contrary, there are some people who lag behind on articulating what they have achieved and seem to prefer corners than coming to limelight. The journeys of these people are entirely different and their lives do not resemble same fame. Isn’t it same even for different nature of development programs?

Service delivery programs focus on developing infra-structures and making people access to services. It can be construction of toilets and taps. Nature of this program allows people to see tangible effects right after accomplishment of this projects. People tend to be part of this project as they can easily benefit and count achievements in numbers. It is very easy to count changes and project the number of service users by counting numbers of people using this infrastructure. It is very easy and simple for claiming the changes, isn’t it?

It has been proved that service delivery alone is not sufficient. We have seen lots of infrastructures that have not been properly utilized. We come across some development interventions that seem to us more like wastage of money and wish there could have been good use of the resources in developing countries. These bobbling of brain and ideas helped in emergence of sector influencing concept. It aspired on ensuring best use of resources and putting government in forefront seat as driver of development.

Social campaigning has been integral component of sector influencing. Campaigning is speaking up, drawing a community’s attention to an important issue, and directing decision-makers towards a solution.  In most instances, campaigning foresee larger changes in society and political dimensions. It is natural for all campaigners to work together with large group of people, organizations, networks and alliances. In this scenario, attribution to the larger changes is bit complicated that it seems.

Nothing is impossible in this world, if people do not fear of mistakes and put their brains together. Component of measuring changes should be inbuilt from the inception of the campaign. In most instances, campaigning aims in changing behavior of people or group for changing power dynamics. Therefore, indicators to measure changes of behavior should be taken seriously. Innovative approaches of monitoring like outcome mapping that focus on measuring behavior changes can be used as the useful monitoring tools for tracking out the changes brought forward by these campaigns.

Baseline survey and formative research focusing on quantitative and qualitative aspect act as a baseline references for measuring changes. The former will focus on what is situation while later analyze why this situation. Therefore, mixed approach of analyzing the situation before hand is very crucial factor to enable us in prescribing changes that can campaign can bring in the similar setting.

It is true that there are changes in society but how can we claim that these changes are because of our interventions? These are some struggling questions that comes to our mind as the campaigners, isn’t it? There are several ways to help us in attributing these changes. The most successful evidence has revealed that attribution can be done only when there is comparison. Experimental mode of evaluation where there is comparison between experiment community with our campaign interventions and similar control community without any such interventions. Differences in these two communities are considered as the attribution of these campaigning interventions. However, it has been found that it is not affordable to find this control community and keep them aloof from any such interventions. In this context, partly experimental mode has been used where experiment community will be compared with similar comparison community. The crucial thing that should be considered is experiment, control and comparison should be similar at the point of campaign initiation.

Evaluation methods

Campaigners should be attentive in analyzing changes in exposed communities. There will be two types of people in the community, one very active and other passive ones. People with enthusiasm are generally the ones that grasp knowledge spread by the campaign and change their attitude. It will then only inspire these people to change their practices. Therefore, it is very crucial to analyze what made these people active and what made them change their behavior to make sure that our campaign has helped them to change their attitude and behavior.

Claiming big changes is a thrill, isn’t it? It is so natural that all campaigners engaged in sanitation and water will want to claim that they have contributed in having sanitation and water as right in draft constitution of Nepal. Claiming of these changes should be supported by process documentation on what as the campaigners, networks or alliance has contributed in bringing such policy changes? We should claim what we can prove with pride. In the long run, we can claim that these are the good policies and practice changes we brought together as the group, not as an individual. So, why not start tracking and attributing these changes so that we can lead life full of aspirations and achievements?

Written by Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy and Research Officer, WaterAid in Nepal

July 6, 2010

Musical activism against open defecation practices

Bishnu Dawadi at WaterAid office in Nepal!

Sanitation activist Bishnu Dawadi (picture, right) of Jagatpur VDC in Chitawan District loves to sing. She’s been singing from a young age, and she was a popular singer at her school and college. After college, she joined NEWAH, where she’s been working at its Central and Western Region Office for the past 14 years. Her melodious and energetic sanitation song “jagau, jagau, jagau hey . . .”, which urges communities to stop the practice of open defecation, has made her famous in villages in the mid- and mid-western Nepal. Her song has been praised by civil society leaders, village decision-makers, and government representatives. We recently caught up with Bishnu in Kathmandu for this conversation:

How did you come up with this idea?

I work in rural and remote communities, where people are illiterate. They cannot read and write. Therefore, they cannot understand our sanitation-related documents, posters and other printed public awareness materials. Seeing this, I thought that we had to intervene differently when it came to spreading awareness for sanitation and against open defecation practices.

Songs are very much part of our culture, and everyone enjoys singing them and listening to them. Songs also leave lasting memories in people’s minds. I thought that I should write a sanitation song, and use it to spread awareness.

The opportunity came in May 2009, when I attended Master Training of Trainers Program on triggering tools of Total Sanitation that was run by Community Development Forum (CODEF). They had a song-writing competition among the participants. That competition made me realize my potential. I wrote the song, and realized that there was not any nationally famous song on sanitation. I was overwhelmed when the main facilitator of the training asked me to sing the song in the closing ceremony in front of hundreds of community members, who we visited during the training program. I was astonished to find that they all appreciated and liked my song.

Do you think songs can be used to raise awareness and to influence behaviours?

The song has been used by several community members to raise awareness in different parts of the country. It’s been popular in all the central districts in which NEWAH works, such as Chitwan, Sindhuli, Gorkha, and other places. ActionAid Nepal has used this song to promote awareness through children who enjoyed this song very much. Most of our trainings of WASH have not been complete without singing this song. I believe that music can be a strong medium to change people’s mind and their behaviors.

This song has also been appreciated by government stakeholders. Kamal Adhikary [Sociologist, Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS)] and Madan Kumar Malla [Coordinator, Chitwan Model Sanitation District] have told me that the song carries a powerful message. I feel that song with a strong message can also help change the mindset of policy makers to make sanitation issues a priority for development. Songs like this can generate a response from public officials.

How do you feel about the song?

I feel confident and feel proud to see that this song has helped me create a strong identity for myself in communities. Whenever I sing this song, everyone appreciates it and people start clapping and dancing to it. Some later tell me that the song changed their viewpoints about the importance of sanitation. I feel that people remember me through this song, and that makes happy.

How do you feel about the future of raising awareness through songs in sanitation advocacy work?

I always wanted to spread the message of sanitation awareness throughout the country. It is hard for me or NEWAH to reach all the corners of Nepal. NEWAH’s sanitation policy has included this song as its preamble. I dream of the day when this song is set to music, recorded, turned into a short video and distributed to all parts of Nepal a part of sanitation awareness work. This will inspire others to use their pen to create more sanitation songs that will ensure sanitation access to all Nepalis.

Written by Shikha Shrestha, Advocacy and Research Officer and Anita Pradhan, Documentation Manager at WaterAid in Nepal

Bishnu's song on sanitation on her hand writing

Bishnu singing sanitation song for saathisanga manka kura radio programme

Bishnu singing sanitation song for debate on sanitation and drinking water radio programme

This blog was created by WaterAid under the creative commons licence