So What Does This Mean? Lessons Learned from Langrug

Putting the Pieces Together: Elements of a Working WaSH-UP Programme

Combining all the things learned through during the past three years of WaSH-UP in Langrug, several important factors have been identified as necessary for success. In addition to physical facilities, there needs to be continued financial support, ongoing health, education, and wellbeing services, and community participation.

Continued Financial Support

Continued financial support is necessary to purchase supplies to maintain the cleanliness of the facility, fulfill basic sanitation needs (i.e. soap and toilet paper), repair the facility when necessary, and fund services if required. Several different options for funding have been explored through the project in Langrug as well as other communal toilets. In one case, the MobiSan toilets in Pok se bos are funded solely by external organisations. In the case of Langrug, this did not seem to be a feasible option. While WPI was able to fund construction, the municipality was responsible for funding the maintenance and upkeep of the facility. However, due to underfunding of the local government, the municipality could not commit to do this long term.  However, due to an unstable relationship with the municipality, funding has been inconsistent, though we hope to have some source of funding to keep the toilets maintained. Another such idea, which has been successful in other areas, is charging a small fee for usage. In the case of Langrug, the showers cost R5, however irresponsible money practices have resulted in misplacing the money that is collected. Furthermore, charging for using the facility as a whole does not fully encourage use of the facility by all members of the community. Another option explored is a community savings group to support community projects. This project recently attempted to be implemented, but the Sidiniwe Savings Group is yet unable to achieve much progress. Currently they manage the facility but have struggled to complete any other community projects. Another project, which we attempted to implement and could be successful given slight modifications, is the creation of a health-products kiosk in the facility. The profits of the kiosk would support the operations of the facility. However, similar problems to the showers insufficient management of money and inconsistent bookkeeping caused the project to fail the first time it was implemented. With amended business practices and improved management, this concept holds a lot of potential. Other small business opportunities are possible revenue streams within the facility. Less self-sustaining options include continued support from other local NGOs, although this is less desirable due to the external dependence.

Health, Education, and Wellbeing Services

Health, education, and wellbeing services are an essential part of WaSH-UP. Though places like MobiSan exist without intentional health outreach programmes or a thriving social space, it is believed the facility will be better received by the community and be a more compelling contributor in the development of healthier livelihoods in the community if it is a social space. As a result, the community caretakers in the facility should have the initiative to create services that are needed and wanted by the community as a whole. This demand-driven element is almost as important as the motivation from the caretakers and community members who will run the services. Additionally, those running the programmes will need persistent commitment to ensure the continued success of the services implemented. Finally, they need the managerial skills necessary to lead the programmes and to be able to expand the services as needed by the community.

Community Participation

Community participation appears to be a necessary part of WaSH-UP. For the facility to receive the daily maintenance it requires to function properly, someone needs to be there everyday, making community caretakers ideal for the position. Furthermore, a facility designed with input from the community will garner more support, making it more likely to be used and less likely to be vandalized. Due to a lack of maintenance and care from community members, there are other toilet and tap facilities in Langrug that are unclean, defaced, and unsafe. The WaSH-UP Facility at Mandela Park is, in comparison, cleaner and safer to use because community members feel responsible for its upkeep (observation).  Additionally, when community members enjoy spending time at the facility, it becomes a vehicle to promote health and wellbeing, either through formal services or indirectly just by encouraging healthy habits.