Since 2016, USAID/Ghana, through its WASH For Health program, has been working with 35 local Rotary clubs and governmental agencies to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions for more than 75,000 people, by 2020, as part of the Rotary–USAID public-private partnership. The partnership between Rotary International (RI), one of the world’s largest humanitarian service organizations with a membership of 1.2 million, and USAID exemplifies how the private and public sectors can come together to enhance sustainable access to water and sanitation services. One of the touchpoint activities for the partners is the development of community management structures to ensure the adoption of improved hygiene behavior, end open defecation, and ensure the sustainability of WASH systems.
Rotary volunteers are not necessarily WASH professionals nor do they typically have the knowledge to carry out trainings in behavior change communications, community-led total sanitation (CLTS), or the School Health Education Program (SHEP). This is when the technical expertise of USAID and Government of Ghana partners comes into play. Rotarians attend the trainings to build their capacity to support the communities where they work to, over the long term, change sanitation and hygiene behavior.
In an example of this multi-stakeholder collaboration, in October 2018, the governmental Ghana Education Service, in partnership with WASH For Health and the Rotary Club of Sekondi-Takoradi, convened two-day trainings for a total of six schools in Ghana’s Western Region. All the schools had received new latrines and handwashing stations under the partnership. “We invited four participants from each of the six schools, including the head teacher, the school-based SHEP coordinator, the district SHEP coordinator, and one member from either the Parent-Teacher Association or the school management committee,” said Derrick Kwarteng, a CLTS field officer for USAID’s WASH For Health program.
“The focus of the training was on the operation and maintenance of WASH facilities, the formation of School Health Clubs, children’s role in community-led total sanitation, hygiene promotion, and the development of management plans,” said Nana Konduah Dickye, a member of the Rotary Club of Sekondi-Takoradi. According to Dickye, participants asked for guidance on how to handle a number of common situations, including when members of a household use the same bowl of water to wash their hands. “For instance, after the father washes his hands, the children will use the same water in the bowl the father used to also wash their hands.” Finally, participants learned to use tippy taps. “A tippy tap is basically stringing a gallon on two poles and attaching a rope to the neck of the gallon. You also make [a] hole on the cap with a nail. On stepping on the paddle, the gallon will tilt, releasing water so you can wash your hands easily with minimal water,” Dickye explained.
Volunteers from his club partnership program team helped the partnership’s project manager and USAID vet and monitor the work of the contractors that constructed latrines and toilet facilities in the six schools.
The added value that Rotary members bring to support the work of USAID is clear to Kwarteng, who has worked on behalf of the partnership with Dickye’s club, as well as the Rotary Clubs of Cape Coast and Apam. “Rotarians are professionals who bring very valuable experience on board,” he said. Those members without WASH sector experience draw from the practical knowledge acquired through trainings and from working alongside USAID and Government of Ghana partners in the field to make meaningful contributions. Rotarians have the trust of the beneficiaries of the partnership. “They are very familiar with the communities and the schools. They have very, very cordial relationships with the community people,” explains Kwarteng, who credits them with keeping people like him motivated to do more for the communities and schools.
For more information on the Rotary–USAID Partnership and lessons from the collaboration, check out the newly updated webpage on Globalwaters.org.
By Mohamed Keita of Rotary International with contributions from Nana Konduah Dickye, member of the Rotary Club of Sekondi-Takoradi