The Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), through the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection (MWDSEP), convened the country’s First Sanitation Summit from 19 to 21 November 2018 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka. During the summit, the Zambia Open Defecation Free Strategy 2030 was launched to actualise the country’s sanitation and hygiene development aspirations. The strategy forms part of the government’s 7th National Development Plan, the Vision 2030, and its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Titled, Collective Action towards Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene Services for All, the three-day summit gathered 500 participants, with representation from all government levels, traditional and civic leadership, non-governmental and civil society organisations, research institutes, the private sector, and the media. It was held against the backdrop of pressing sanitation and hygiene concerns. According to WHO/UNICEF (2017), access to basic sanitation in Zambia currently stands at 31% (rural at 19% and urban at 49%). Of this percentage, 15% continue to practise open defecation (rural at 25% and urban at 1%). Access to handwashing facilities with soap and permanent water continues to be a low 14% (rural at 5% and urban at 26%).
SNV during the summit
Since 2014, SNV’s SSH4A (Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All) approach has been helping to inform government strategies to improve access to and use of sanitation and hygiene facilities. As member of the summit’s Scientific and Technical Sub-committee, SNV provided resources towards its convening, presented a paper on its experience and lessons learnt from the application of its rural sanitation approach (May 2014 – March 2018) , and chaired the session, Strengthening Enabling Environment and National Systems – Good Governance.
Key learning points shared by SNV throughout the summit include the following:
- Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approaches, while effective, require a myriad of approaches to sustain sanitation progress and embed positive hygiene behaviour. Beyond CLTS, for example, formative research is needed to identify the most effective messages that can elicit demand for sanitation and ensure that new hygiene behaviours are sustained. To ensure that designed interventions are appropriate and realistic, monitoring methodologies that disaggregate data help to build the evidence to inform planning and resource distribution that do not leave anyone behind.
- It is possible to take rural sanitation approaches to scale using a results-based financing mechanism. At the Northern Province districts of Kasama, Luwingu, Mporokoso and Mungwi where SSH4A was implemented for example, sanitation access rose to 89% in March 2018 (compared to the baseline of 38% in May 2014). In addition, four chiefdoms received GRZ open-defecation free certification. Key to SSH4A’s success was the approach itself having been tried, tested, and adapted since 2008; the existence of a robust SNV internal and knowledge management; and stakeholder buy-in.
- Addressing the rural sanitation challenge is a long-term public commitment, and requires continued learning and exchanges. In the case of SSH4A for example, its continued relevance and applicability were facilitated by built-in learning cycles along the years. These learning cycles have allowed SNV to develop monitoring indicators that were already in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework, even during the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). See how SNV's SSH4A sanitation ladder compares to internationally recognised indicators used during the MDG and SDG era.
|SNV's Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All, SSH4A (2013)||Millennium Development Goals, MDGs (2000-2015)||Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs (2015-2030)|
Summit consensus statement
The summit concluded with a consensus statement, articulating the following:
- The need to galvanise political will to eliminate open defecation and improve sanitation and hygiene services to all.
- Sanitation and hygiene interventions need to be prioritised in multi-sectoral development approaches, with households serving as key drivers for better nutrition and health outcomes.
- Develop and implement a national sanitation and hygiene monitoring and reporting system to help generate the evidence needed to understand inequalities in access to sanitation and hygiene, and plan for the equitable (and targeted) distribution of services.
- Government must progressively increase the budget allocation for water, sanitation and hygiene.
- Conducting applied research and development in sanitation and hygiene is a must to strengthen evidence generation.
It was agreed to hold the Sanitation Summit on a biannual basis.
 During the summit, the paper, Rural Sanitation at Scale Lessons from the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for all Results Programme (SSH4A RP), was presented by Anne Mutta and Kumbulani Ndlovu.
 SNV’s monitoring indicators were first developed in 2010. Regular learning cycles helped to evolve SNV’s understanding and innovations in rural sanitation.