Empowering local government
The village meetinghouse is full. Ms. Sann Vandy calls for the group’s attention, then begins to lead a puzzle game of six pictures to put in order, including photos of people having to defecate in the field next to the village. Because they are talking about private body functions, there is a little embarrassment, but also some laughter and joking, as the mood is light. Vandy keeps them engaged. She moves to another game where the villagers are given an envelope and a group of pictures of commonly desired objects—TV, mobile phone, motorcycle—as well as the elements of a household latrine, such as a shelter and a pit. The villagers have to budget 25,000 riel for the objects that are important to them, and they are encouraged to maximize what they can get for that amount.
Open defecation is a major problem in Cambodia, leading to waterborne diseases that claim the lives of nearly 10,000 children yearly. In 2008, the Cambodian government set sanitation as a priority in order to improve people’s standard of living.
Sann Vandy works for the Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC). She regularly visits villages to discuss the need for proper sanitation, as well as holding workshops to train others to do the same. The goal is to engage rural villagers in fun activities that teach a serious message about the need for sanitation, as well as how easy it is to buy a latrine.
When Vandy finishes, she introduces the village chief, who proceeds to encourage the villagers to adopt the new sanitation practices they have learned. A latrine business owner is at hand to take their orders for a latrine and place a deposit. Many do so.
This is what a government-organized behavior change campaign looks like today in rural Cambodia. And it’s working.
We have done a lot to improve sanitation. We promote and strengthen collaboration between development partners. We work closely with local authorities and with communities to make sure everyone joins together to improve sanitation. I think the great progress in rural sanitation is something for Cambodians to be proud of.
—Chreay Pom, Director, Department of Rural Health at Ministry of Rural Development.
Working with the Government of Vietnam
To expand latrine coverage in Vietnam, iDE partnered with the Center for Preventive Medicine and the Women’s Union to train government health care workers on how to promote toilet purchasing among rural households.
Local government officials often show enthusiasm for sanitation efforts. However, they have limited resources and know-how. Supporting their activities with resources and engagement from regional and national public officials is necessary to empower local governments to effectively promote sanitation behavior change.
iDE collaborates with local governments and other public sector entities to break down barriers to economic growth and leverage underutilized opportunities in ways that will benefit the poorest citizens.
Other methods of engaging with local government include the development of favorable tariffs and finance policies, market-friendly regulations, clear environmental guidelines, public demand creation, and coordination of development partners.
Let’s work together towards a systems solution
We take a systems approach to solving poverty. Together, with partners and local government we can solve many problems. If you’re interested in exploring a partnership opportunity, let us know!