In DRC, SWIFT partners have increased access to improved sanitation through the Villages et Écoles Assainis (Healthy Villages and Schools, or VEA) approach, a step-by-step process of village mobilisation that is supported by DRC’s Ministry of Public Health and by UNICEF. The VEA approach integrates drinking water, sanitation, personal hygiene and solid waste disposal, and its structure is decentralised, community-based and community-driven.
Step 1: A village takes the initiative by making a formal application to the Chief Medical Officer of the Health Zone. If the application is successful, an agreement is signed between village leaders and the local Health Zone office, setting out each party’s commitments.
Step 2: The village forms a managing committee.
Step 3: The community conducts a ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP)’ analysis of its water, sanitation and hygiene situation.
Step 4: The zonal health team works with a SWIFT partner to help the village’s managing committee develop an action plan. The support provided may include: training of community motivators in hygiene awareness; assistance with conducting the KAP survey; provision of supplies needed to construct household latrines that are unavailable locally; and training and salaries for qualified masons if they are needed for construction work.
Step 5: The action plan must ensure that the village’s facilities, hygiene practices and disease prevention strategies match a set of seven VEA standards:
- There should be a dynamic managing committee
- At least 80% of the village population should have access to clean drinking water
- At least 80% of households should use a hygienic toilet
- At least 80% of households should safely dispose of their rubbish
- At least 60% of the population should wash their hands with soap or alternative cleanser before eating and after using the toilet
- At least 70% of households should understand routes of faecal-oral transmission of disease and how to avoid infection
- At least once a month, the village is cleaned and grass verges cut.
Step 6: The village has between six months and a year to upgrade its toilets, dig its rubbish pits, conduct sufficient hygiene promotion sessions to instill the habit of hand-washing, and organise protection of its water points.
Step 7: When the village has completed its action plan, the zonal health team carries out a post-programme KAP survey.
Step 8: VEA certification is conferred by the Chief Medical Officer of the health zone at a special celebration.
SWIFT is also developing a new approach which is both inclusive and community-driven for the specific requirements of semi-urban contexts. The process has involved technical support from an additional WASH engineer and local development organisation ADIR (Action pour le Développement des Infrastructures en milieu Rural, or Action for Community Development in Rural Areas), as well as the involvement of government bodies and community groups to ensure the approach is sustainable. SWIFT is constantly refining the new system in light of its experiences in semi-urban settings.