Developing and implementing the WASH products promotional strategy for Growth through Nutrition is a critical step forward toward increase community access to WASH products. The recent Population Services International (PSI) and Save the Children’s (SCI) learning visits in North Oromia, East and West Amhara, indicated the inadequate use of Growth through Nutrition existing platforms, i.e. Enhanced community conversations (ECCs), saving groups, WASHCOs etc., for WASH products’ promotion. Based on the learning from the visit, on August 5th, PSI, in collaboration with SCI and local NGOs, organized a half-day WASH workshop to gather participants and discuss further development of the WASH products promotional strategy.
Opened and facilitated by PSI’s Private Sector Engagement Advisor - Alemayehu Tegegn, the workshop took place in two parts, a presentation on the overall WASH strategy and activities and group discussions on how it can be improved.
Following Alemayehu’s introduction of the program, Growth through Nutrition Chief of Party, Dan Abbot, commended the work done in WASH thus far and stressed areas and opportunities for further improvement, such as better reaching rural communities with WASH products and better developing existing platforms such as behavior change groups.
Befekadu Bayisa, WASH Business Expert, presented the business development process as well as the model undertaken by the PSI team in developing market demand for WASH products. He highlighted the customer groups in relation to the product benefits and how PSI would go about creating and maintaining demand. Befekadu further mentioned the major partners and stakeholders (i.e. facilitators, actors, private organizations and Ethiopian Government) and their relationships to the project. He highlighted the various adaptations to the model throughout the implementation period due to market changes.
Following his presentation, SBCC Advisor Wossen Assefa provided an overview of SBCC activities related to WASH, their related successes and challenges, and made recommendations of possible actions for the future. Some of the challenges faced included narrow product options, high prices of construction materials and poor estimation of real demand.
Specifically, he reviewed the recent learning trip and the relevant lessons learned including low latrine coverage (<65%), dependence on free products provided by NGOs and poor overall awareness of WASH products and activities. Following the presentation, Alemayehu opened the floor to questions from the participants, which led to discussion surrounding the importance of measuring the performance of WASH product sales in the community in addition to sales at regional and woreda level, and the opportunities to link WASH with the community.
Following a quick break, the participants broke into 3 smaller groups to discuss potential solutions to the issues raised in the discussions. The brainstormed solutions were to relate to the specific stakeholders involved in the success of WASH strategies. The groups recommended solutions that revolved around empowering the immediate community, such as identifying and using model CCAs, farmers, institutions (such as schools and health posts), WASHCOs and mothers to promote WASH products, and making use of existing platforms to maximize communication between Growth through Nutrition, local government and related parties.
In closing, Dan emphasized the importance of using the workshop’s discussion points and solutions as an input of in developing a WASH strategy for the upcoming project Year IV.