Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions.
Briefly explain how community engagement leads to empowerment of communities and how this relates to community capacity building.
Community engagement means involving people in planning, developing and implementing projects. Communities feel empowered when they are allowed to participate in and share responsibility for decisions and actions that affect them. This gives them confidence in their own abilities, which helps them to successfully undertake responsible roles in future projects. In other words, their capacity to make valued and worthwhile inputs to projects is increased.
The other SAQs for this study session are based on Case Study 6.1, which is in two parts. Read the first part and then answer the SAQs that follow. As you read the case study, think about which of the levels, methods and guiding principles were followed by Jallele in the construction of the communal latrine.
Case Study 6.1, Part 1 Jallele and the communal latrine
Jallele is a WASH practitioner based at Kembebit Woreda Health Office, Oromia region. Sheno is the woreda centre, with four kebeles. Kebele 01 is one of the four. The woreda’s biggest market place is found in Kebele 01 and the people who live in both rural and urban parts of the woreda gather there on Wednesdays and Saturdays to buy and sell goods.
One of the problems Jallele observed at Sheno is the common practice of open defecation by members of the community living in Kebele 01. Jallele called a meeting to discuss the issue with the community. She provided them with information about the health hazards from open defecation and explained that using latrines would benefit their community. The community members told her they had no land to spare for building individual household latrines.
During the discussion, the community suggested construction of a communal latrine as a solution. Jallele discussed the situation with an NGO engaged in WASH programmes and was able to convince them to allocate money for the construction of a communal latrine. She told the kebele administration about the funding she obtained from the NGO and held discussions with them. The kebele administration identified an open access area next to the market place in the centre of the community. The communal latrine was built by contractors working for the NGO at the site the kebele administration had identified.
When the community started to use the latrine, Jallele was delighted. However, after some time, it started to smell bad as a result of poor management. The community stopped using it and went back to using open defecation. After some time, it was totally abandoned. The people coming to market to buy and sell goods complained about the smell and the construction of the latrine next to the market.
Which of the levels of community engagement shown in Figure 6.3 and Table 6.1 did Jallele follow appropriately?
Jallele engaged the community at an early stage in project identification. She shared information with them (Level 1) by providing information about the problems of open defecation and possible solutions, and by listening to their difficulties with lack of available land. She consulted with the community (Level 2) about a possible solution and they suggested a communal latrine. However, the information about funding from the NGO, planning the location for the latrine (Level 3) and constructing the latrine (Level 4) were only shared with the kebele administration and the NGO.
What do you think is the possible cause of the failure of the project that Jallele implemented? What steps are missing in Jallele's community engagement strategy?
Jallele didn’t consult widely enough with the whole extended community about the proposed site of the latrine. Although the solution was proposed by the community, they didn’t use it for long. Jallele didn't recognise the need to engage all community members in every key step of the project implementation. She involved the community in some of the major steps of the project implementation, such as problem identification and prioritisation, and she even engaged them in proposing a possible solution. However, she missed the key step of engaging them in identifying an appropriate place for the construction of the communal latrine. She might have realised that the allocation of the land for communal development activities is done by the kebele administration. She could have consulted the community on the appropriateness of the land identified by the kebele administration before proceeding to the actual construction activity. Also, she did not consider what would happen in the future or identify that a plan was needed to manage and maintain the latrine after it had been constructed.
Which of the guiding principles outlined in this study session did Jallele adhere to well and which were not considered adequately?
Jallele’s community engagement showed:
- transparency – she kept the community informed about the plans
- cooperation – she held a meeting and consulted widely with the community
- deliberation – it gave the opportunity for different options to be discussed
- influence – it influenced the decision which was made
- responsiveness – action was taken in response to the community’s discussion.
However, it was not inclusive and didn’t demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of the community, or of equality (some parts of the community were not consulted).
Case Study 6.1, Part 2 Jallele and the communal latrine
Jallele then engaged the community in addressing the problems encountered. After discussion with the wider community, including those who had not been involved initially, she introduced a follow-up scheme. She encouraged the community to make a contribution to renovate the abandoned latrine facility and involved them in the decision-making process. She facilitated the setting up of an appropriate management system, whereby users made a small contribution for using the facility and this money was used to pay two people who kept the latrine clean and to provide soap. She also introduced a bylaw for dealing with any misconduct or misuse. Following this, the facility was kept clean, so didn’t smell and the community began to use it again. There are a number of examples where such initiatives have been successful in Ethiopia.
Give two advantages that resulted from Jallele engaging the community at this stage.
Some of the advantages resulting from the engagement of the community at this stage were that:
- members of the community had ownership of the management scheme that had been arranged
- members were consulted, so were able to contribute to defining and achieving the objective of eliminating the bad smell and attracting buyers back to the market
- it strengthened partnerships involving all those whom Jallele had consulted with
- the organisation skills gained in managing the follow-up scheme contributed to the capacity of the community
- it provided a small income for those who agreed to manage the community latrine facility
- the problem of the bad smell was overcome
- buyers and sellers could use the market without complaining about the smell
- the inhabitants of the kebele stopped using open defecation.
You may have thought of others.
Which of the guiding principles were better adhered to through Jallele’s follow-up scheme?
Jallele’s follow-up scheme addressed the shortcomings of the initial scheme. It was inclusive, and addressed the issues of diversity and equality, because she engaged the wider community, including those who had not been consulted over the initial scheme.