We have now officially begun our village Sanitation Campaigns. In both Butongole and Bugabula we have held Safe Water and Sanitation workshops for Village Health Team members, political leaders, and other village leaders. In Butongole, we have also held a “hands-on day,” and Bugabula’s “hands-on” day is about a week from now. Next week, we shall begin the workshops in our other three Healthy Villages – Walukuba, Bulumwaki and Nabitovu.
The workshops take a full day (from around 9am until 5 or 6pm), and are very interactive; many of attending individuals (such as our Village Health Team members) have been trained in health or sanitation already, and so the workshops are as much a discussion and brainstorming session as anything else. We also do some demonstrations, and some activities. For instance, at one we point we call 2 volunteers up to drink from apparently identical bottles of water. One bottle of water is pure, and tastes fine, but the other is incredibly salty – the second individual’s facial expression is enough to let the entire group know that something is awry! The idea here is to demonstrate that even if water appears to be clean, it may be contaminated with things invisible to the eye – and more dangerous than salt!
At another point, we have the villagers draw out a basic map of their village on the ground, and mark with rocks where the households with no latrines are, and where the areas for open defecation are. Then we have them mark their own houses. The idea here, of course, is to show that open defecation is a danger to everyone in the village, including themselves.
At the end of the workshops, the villagers draw up an action plan: in Butongole they divided the village into 4 zones, and chose 3 village leaders to work with the villagers of each zone on sanitation implementations. In Bugabula (a smaller village), they chose to each work with a “cluster” of homes around their own home. UVP is subsidizing jerry-cans, wire, string, and nails, to help the villagers who may not be able to afford sanitation measures on their own.
After each workshop we hold a “hands-on” day, to demonstrate construction of the various sanitation measures: tippy-taps, plate stands, trash pits, etc. Our hands-on day in Butongole went very well, with leaders from every zone attending. We constructed a tippy-tap and a plate stand at the house of one of the village health team members, and we arranged to return in a few days to work at homes in the other zones also. This way each zone will have a “model household,” a concept promoted by several NGOs in the area besides UVP.
After the hands-on days are complete, we shall be working with workshop “sanitation experts” to do a baseline survey of sanitation in the village, so that we know the starting point for every household in the village. (This way, we’ll know how much has changed by the end of our Sanitation Campaign.) After the baselines are complete, we’ll hold massive village meetings, where the workshop experts themselves will present the action plan to the village.
All this is very exciting, because while we (UVP staff) do the initial training, the majority of the sanitation campaign shall be run, not by staff, but by village leaders! Not even a year into our work in these villages, we can truly say that we are beginning to take a backseat when it comes to village organizing, allowing the community members themselves to be the agents of change in their villages.