2014: Progress on MDG for sanitation
ODF sweeping chiefdoms
By Rufus Eshuchi
LUSAKA, Zambia – The role of traditional leaders in promoting community-led total sanitation (CLTS) is increasingly gaining recognition with more chiefs taking the lead to ensure their chiefdoms become open defecation free (ODF).
The focus on chiefdoms seems to be the roadmap to a rapid ODF Zambia. Across the country, chiefs have taken leadership moving from one village to the other with the Community Champions initiative to trigger CLTS activities. Using the existing structures, coordination of activities within the chiefdoms is bearing fruit.
“CLTS is being used to promote a range of behaviours aimed at eradicating open defecation, including construction, maintaining and use of hygienic toilets and promoting handwashing with soap or ash where soap is not available,” said UNICRF Zambia’s Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, Nicolas Osbert.
Chief Macha of Choma district was the first traditional leader to trigger his chiefdom and attained ODF status in 2007 followed by Chief Mapanza. Chief Macha was recognized by the Government and honored by several organizations involved in CLTS in Zambia and across Africa. He is often referred to as “CLTS Ambassador” and UNICEF honored him in 2012 with the title UNICEF Supporter.
The trend is encouraging and as one councilor observed in Monze, the CLTS wave sweeping through the chiefdoms has become an epidemic. Southern Province is currently leading with four chiefdoms having been declared ODF.
Besides Macha and Mapanza Chiefdoms in Choma districts, Mukobela Chiefdom in Namwala was declared ODF in September 2013 and Chona Chiefdom in Monze in November 2013.
Reports from Eastern and Central Provinces as well as the Copperbelt indicate that a number of chiefdoms are already ODF. The national team is waiting for verification process to be completed before declaring these chiefdoms ODF.
Traditional (chiefs and headmen) and civic leaders (parliamentarians and ward councillors) play a variety of roles in championing CLTS at local community levels including persuading village residents to construct and use latrines. They also advocate with Government administrators and the population at large.
“The national sanitation program puts an emphasis on establishing structures and building the capacity of key stakeholders at the district and community level. This has ensured all key players at this level understand the role they are expected to play,” explained Osbert.
During the second wave of CLTS trainings, inception meetings were held in all the new districts. The objective of these meetings was to sensitize the district Management Team and D-WASHE (District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Committees.
Community champions were selected through a consultative process and trained.
A VIP training that brought together district management, chiefs, councillors, media and civil society organization was conducted. This approach has not only increased knowledge and understanding of the program but has also promoted teamwork.
The Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs (MoCTA) as well as the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health are also playing key roles in the ODF movement. The Ministry of Local Government and Housing is also leading in its coordination role and recently posted National Rural Water and Sanitation Coordinators in most districts.
MoCTA officers at the district level are now directly supporting chiefs to develop monthly work plans that include sanitation activities.
“These structures will provide quick and efficient results as well as support the sustainability of the programme,” noted UNICEF Zambia Representative Dr. Hamid El-Bashir.