Saturday, October 17, 2015

CLTS neglecting engineering expertise

By Edmund Smith-Asante, SAVELUGU
Mr Bansaga Saga taking journalists through the different latrine models.
Engineering expertise has been overlooked in the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach adopted by the government to improve rural sanitation coverage, the Project Manager of World Vision’s Ghana Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (GI-WASH) programme, Mr Bansaga Saga, has stated.

Speaking to journalists who toured the GI-WASH’s facilities last Tuesday, Mr Saga said although the CLTS approach encouraged local initiatives in the construction of latrines, engineering was a vital aspect that had been neglected, hence the caving in of most of the latrines.

He, therefore, advocated the attachment of sanitation engineers to all the districts to oversee latrine construction, which, he said, would come at a cost because the engineers would have to be paid.

“Because we are not financing the sanitation, who should pay for that quality cost,” he asked.
Ghana in 2010 adopted the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to improve rural sanitation and also deal with the high incidence of open defecation in the country.

A do-it-yourself approach
Mr Saga said currently, employing the CLTS model means that “you have to do it by yourself. How do we ensure the all these people doing it by themselves can maintain the minimum standard in terms of engineering?”

He indicated that the closest that the CLTS had come to streamlining latrines built was the institution of sanitation markets that showcased different latrine models and also building the capacity of local artisans in the construction of latrines.

He lamented that apart from that, no attempt had been made to guide individuals who constructed the latrines with engineering expertise, to ensure that durable materials were used or that proper engineering methods were employed.

Mr Saga said he had witnessed the collapse of several pits dug for latrines as well as concrete slaps put on pits. He said “basically there is no technology to stabilise it other than to use concrete blocks. You can find some wood and put them on the pit and put clay on them but termites will eat them.”

He indicated that as there were some areas that did not have strong woods, covering the pits became a challenge. “That means covering the pit with iron, cement and all, which immediately goes beyond the capacity of the individual,” he stated.

According to him although World Vision appreciated the challenges, they were constrained by the CLTS policy, which does not allow any form of support but rather encourages full local involvement and the use of local materials for latrine construction.

He however, noted that stakeholders were currently brainstorming to see if they could influence an amendment of the current policy to be able to meet individuals halfway in the construction of latrines after they had reached a certain stage.

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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on September 30, 2015

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