Some specific solutions include:
Implementation of open defecation game plan
UNICEF has developed a global game plan for ending open defecation by 2030. The game plan, aligned with SDG 6.2, which also aims to end global open defecation by 2030, seeks to reach ‘the furthest behind first’, namely the 892 million people who practised open defecation by 2015. ESAR is home to 8 of the 26 ‘high-burden’ countries for open defecation in the world. The game plan outlines UNICEF’s programmatic focus and approaches in sanitation. It will help ensure that ending open defecation receives the deliberate and sustained attention required to succeed. To end open defecation, UNICEF is targeting these eight countries (Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan and Tanzania) with additional support to accelerate or sustain the annual reduction rates in open defecation. There is a clear emphasis on sustainability issues in the support.
Strategic public-private partnerships to move populations up the sanitation ladder
UNICEF has in providing guidance and support to governments in the region on how to better engage with the private sector on sanitation and hygiene. For example, UNICEF has partnership with Lixil, a global sanitation products company, to reach millions of people with sanitation products in the region. This market shaping partnership aims to increase the availability of affordable sanitation products and services in the region. In institutions, UNICEF advocates for national policies that ensures that schools have sex-separated sanitation and hygiene facilities, which also have a strong inclusion component to taken care of special needs such as disabilities and adolescent girls.
Ending high-risk hygiene practices
UNICEF is working with governments to improve good hygiene practices such as handwashing with water and soap in households, communities and institutions. UNICEF employs a wide range of behavior change and communication approaches to reach to the most vulnerable populations. In schools, for example, school hygiene clubs, are playing a critical role in increasing awareness and knowledge as well as fostering good hygiene practices in schools.
Mainstreaming menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) in schools
UNICEF is working with the education and gender teams to mainstream MHH in schools across the region. Efforts include strengthening national policies on MHH, increasing awareness and knowledge of MHH in schools and communities, implementation of gender-sensitive designs of WASH facilities in schools and strengthening the supply chain of MHH products. The aim is to create conducive learning environments for adolescent girls to boost school attendance and performance.
Improving urban sanitation systems and services
Unlike rural sanitation, urban sanitation systems especially transportation and treatment, requires heavy capital investments. UNICEF is working with other partners like UN Habitat and funding agencies like World Bank, DFID, European Investment Bank and KfW, to define entry points and make high value investments in the urban sanitation sector. Methodological approaches and behavior change strategies are also being reviewed to better adapt to urban populations. To comprehensively address public health epidemics, including cholera, in the region, UNICEF in ESAR is increasingly involved sanitation and hygiene programming in urban areas and small towns, which has been identified as sources of these epidemics. In addition, the region’s has many settlement camps for displaced populations (IDPs and refugees), like in Somalia, northern Uganda, Ethiopia and Southern Sudan, which have turned to be ‘small towns’ due to protracted crises, hence need similar programmatic approaches for typical development context urban programing.