Our client was looking to implement WASH interventions in the Afar region of Ethiopia. They wanted to ensure that any program design reflected the current practices, knowledge and readiness of the community for sanitation and hygiene programs, so they reached out to FMC to conduct a baseline survey.
Using a variety of data collection tools, FMC worked closely with government officials and community representatives to understand the current state of sanitation and hygiene in the region. Tools used included: household questionnaires administered by trained local data collectors; focus group discussions with youth, women and men; and key informant interviews with officials and local NGOs - many of whom had never been engaged in this way before.
These insights allowed us to provide the client with a detailed list of recommendations on how to proceed in designing an appropriate and relevant WASH program. We highlighted the most significant barriers they could expect to encounter and provided targeted advice on how to overcome those challenges. In particular, how to bring a participatory approach to a community with little experience being engaged in this way.
CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT AND COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
Our client knew that some of their key partners in implementing WASH interventions were government officials at a regional level in Ethiopia. They wanted to support their partners in building the knowledge and skills necessary to change attitudes and behaviours related to water, sanitation and hygiene.
FMC coordinated with a partner organization to design and deliver a training program and knowledge exchange for key officials with their counterparts doing similar work in Kenya. Over two weeks, participants from health, education, water and women’s development offices traveled to Kenya to take a deep dive into participatory methods and processes, from project design to evaluation.
The outcomes of the training were more widespread than simply increasing participant knowledge of participatory processes. The cross-cultural exchange and opportunity to facilitate connections between peers in both countries was invaluable. Additionally, some of the Ethiopian officials had been working side-by-side in regional offices and yet had not met each other previously. Field visits helped participants identify points of intersection and overlap between challenges and opportunities.
Through the experiential training, we established a pool of officials with key skills and knowledge in participatory techniques to become champions in their own regions.
PROJECT DESIGN WORKSHOPS
At FMC we know that sustainable projects must have the buy-in of key stakeholders, be responsive to beneficiary and implementer needs and reflect current capacity both in terms of resources and capabilities. Our client wanted to ensure that interventions were designed in partnership with local government and asked us to help establish a process to do this.
Leveraging our understanding of the existing opportunities, stakeholders and challenges in the region, we guided and supported key officials through a participatory project design process. We facilitated several brainstorming, planning and consensus building workshops with key stakeholders, including a one day workshop that brought together heads of bureaus and other NGOs working in the region to map issues, resources and plan the timing of interventions.
FMC then amalgamated the results of the consultations into a proposal for multiple interventions, which then itself went through several rounds of review, feedback and input from key stakeholders. Ultimately, the final proposal reflected the needs, concerns and vision of all stakeholders - from government to community - that would be impacted by the interventions.