Diversity in SSH4A and its evolving emphasis


Since the launch of the International Year of Sanitation in 2008, SNV has been developing, tailoring and testing our approach to improve rural sanitation and hygiene. Grounded in a process of learning with our teams and partners, the outcome has been SNV’s largest rural sanitation approach, the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for all Programme (SSH4A). Over the years, SSH4A has been implemented as part of government-led rural sanitation programmes across 18 countries in Africa and Asia.

Looking back, what an incredible journey it has been! SNV has contributed to the adoption of sound sanitation policies and supported in the introduction of new thinking about hygiene promotion.

Since 2010, more than 5.7 million people have gained access to improved sanitation (based on WHO/UNICEF's Joint Monitoring Programme), and over 2.7 million people have started practising handwashing with soap… and counting!

SSH4A Phase I: Area-wide access and usage for all

SSH4A Phase I: Area-wide access and usage for all

Taking rural sanitation and hygiene beyond the finish line

Back in 2008, the WASH sector’s focus was on expanding coverage of sanitation, triggered in part by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and by the sheer number of people without access to any type of sanitation and hygiene service. Deepening this, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have placed renewed emphasis on leaving no-one behind, raised services levels and broadened the focus beyond households to schools, institutions and health care facilities.

Today, whilst all these remain important, countries are also facing new challenges, within post-ODF districts and due to increasing inequities. Moreover, many rural areas are undergoing change, with out-migration leading to an ageing population, more single-headed households, and the transformation of traditional gender roles.

Hence we’ve decided to refresh our SSH4A diagramme in two ways: to clearly express inclusivity and diversity, and to introduce an SSH4A diagramme for application in post-ODF settings.

SSH4A Phase 1: Area-wide access and usage for all

SSH4A Phase 1: Area-wide access and usage for all

SSH4A Phase 2: Professionalising sanitation and hygiene services

SSH4A Phase 2: Professionalising sanitation and hygiene services

Introducing the refreshed SSH4A diagrammes

We’ve refreshed our SSH4A diagrammes to communicate inclusivity and diversity within rural households more explicitly, reflecting the different ages and abilities within and beyond households. Secondly, we’ve introduced ‘pre- and post-ODF’ phases to capture the different types of follow-up and support that each require.

Whereas the SSH4A programme is not solely aimed at ending open defecation, area-wide coverage has been an effective means to mobilise leadership and build momentum in districts where access is low. For areas where basic coverage is higher, the emphasis of our work will have to shift towards institutionalising and professionalising sanitation and hygiene responsibilities, and services.

Although these phases are not mutually exclusive, once supply chains are developed, behavioural change communications, governance capacities and systems strengthened, and coverage achieved, the components of Phase II diagramme will gain more importance in:

  • transforming the role of government from steering and mobilisation, to regulation;

  • shifting the focus from sanitation supply chains to sanitation and hygiene service provision;

  • the need for more responsive behaviour change communications to address emerging behavioural issues; and

  • evolving the focus of ‘monitoring’ to encompass environmental health surveillance

For SNV, these new SSH4A diagrammes celebrate our changing times, and their continued importance to achieve our vision for sustainable sanitation and hygiene for all.

About the Author: Gabrielle is SNV’s Multi-Country Programme Coordinator for the Beyond the Finish Line Programmes in Nepal, Bhutan and Lao PDR. She’s been a part of SNV and SSH4A since 2010, and has 20 years of professional experience in WASH, gender equality and public health programmes with local and state governments and international development organisations. Gabrielle’s professional qualifications are in Environmental Health, with a Masters in International Health, a Masters in Water and Environmental Management, and further post-graduate qualifications in Ecologically Sustainable Development Policy.

Photo: (L-R) SNV WASH staff arrange themselves according to years of service (SSH4A Learning Event hosted in Addis Ababa, 2018).