On ‘inclusion’: What does ‘leaving no one behind’ truly mean?

How FINISH Mondial is taking explicit actions to curb inequalities to ensure progress for those furthest behind.

It has been our goal to make safe sanitation and improved health a reality for all, and by doing so, to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation). This goal commits to universal access and especially, to leaving no one behind. For FINISH Mondial, this commitment is more than just a pledge. For us, it means taking explicit action to curb inequalities to ensure progress for those furthest down the sanitation ladder—actions that are even more crucial in these uncertain times, marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

FINISH Mondial is built around a market-based approach. This means we have no geographical, ethnic, religious, sexual or social boundaries. To contribute to ‘Leave No One Behind’, we follow four guiding principles:

  1. Make sanitation systems available to a wider group of people through financial inclusion, targeting people who can afford a toilet but also those who cannot immediately afford a toilet. This means we link people to financial institutions and financing facilities to access sanitation loans.
  2. Reduce the costs of sanitation systems, which make them affordable and accessible for a wider group of people.
  3. Provide sanitation systems with different designs, adapted to specific needs, whether that is because of geographical specificities or personal physical disabilities/needs, for example.
  4. Work in partnership with organisations and institutions (including governments) who address the needs of the most vulnerable who cannot be (directly) reached through the FM approach.

More specifically, the FINISH Mondial programme is gender sensitive. This means our interventions recognise the different needs and constraints of women and men and seek to reduce gender gaps by improving the conditions of especially women and girls. There are many examples of how gender and social inclusion (GESI) is currently approached throughout the FINISH Mondial programme. For example, at the level of communities, no distinction is made between involvement of gender and different social groups.

Community outreach through religious groups

Community work might have a political component. As the work is done through community structures, there is a risk that opposition party members may not participate. To avoid this, we work through other groups, e.g. religious groups. For FM Uganda, one of the key activities has been engaging communities to accept each other as neighbours without marginalising for reasons of especially religion. In Kenya, our marketers work through religious groups to avoid exclusion due to political allegiance.

Working with governments on social inclusion

As the government is responsible for leaving no one behind, local and national government are key partners in realising social inclusion in the long term. We have helped to build capacity of government engineers on menstrual hygiene management and needs for girls and women.

Gender inclusion & job creation

Sanitation businesses are supported to make sanitation systems and services available for all, differentiating according to the financial capacity and specific needs of clients. Women and youths are specifically targeted in the entrepreneurial programmes. In the FINISH Mondial India Solid Waste Management Programme, most of the workers are women. They are trained and supported for improving skills, with over 10,000 jobs created, also facilitated with income through waste recycling. In India, the entrepreneurs (e.g. pit emptiers), waste pickers and/or other sanitation workers are often from a socially excluded group at the bottom of social ladder. We support them to professionalise, mechanise and improve their dignity, while protecting their health and contributing to overall improvement of their social inclusion.

Working with micro-finance institutions on gender inclusion

We try to make the group with access to improved sanitation as large as possible, by offering a variety of financial facilities for households. Sanitation loans are available to all clients irrespective of caste, religion or socio-economic status. In India, women are specifically targeted by MFIs, because of the perceived good savings habits and also to elevate them. Men are engaged in this to learn the relevance of giving these women ownership. In Kenya, MFI clients (of sanitation loans) are mainly women, with our partner, Sidian Bank, reporting that about half of sanitation loan clients are first time bankers, with more than half of all clients being women.

Leaving No One Behind in Uganda

Access to safe sanitation in Uganda has remained a challenge with current statistics indicating that only 18% of households in the country have access to basic sanitation facilities and only 7% of Ugandans have access to safely managed sanitation facilities (WHO/UNICEF, 2000-2017). Inadequate access to safe sanitation and water increases health risks like diarrhoea, leading to high public costs for treatment and production loss.

Model behaviour from Katunguru village chairperson

Katunguru village is found in Karago Town council Kabarole district. With 131 households, only 3 had access to safely managed latrines, 81 with basic latrines and 47 households practicing open defecation.  Mr. Katusiime James, the chairperson of the village reported that. “As I speak now diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea have become rampant in this village due to drinking contaminated water arising from open defecation. I can clearly say that at least 6 children are admitted in Bukuku health centre IV every day, which has drained people’s pockets, leaving the village economically poor”. This was the chairman’s expression during the first community sanitation marketing campaign conducted.

During the sanitation marketing campaign, the local council chairperson from Katuguru village Mr. Katusime pledged to be a role model in his village by constructing 3 low-cost ventilation improved double pit latrines toilets and requested the FM Uganda team to scale up the campaign in the entire parish and district. The chairperson supported the FM Uganda team to mobilise other communities, who in turn, embarked on toilet construction after being convinced of its impacts. A total of 30 low-cost ventilation improved double pit latrines toilets have been completed and are in use. Those who were practicing open defecation are currently using basic toilets as they mobilize resources to construct improved ones.

The innovation of using exemplary leadership works. The chairman alone, constructed 3 low-cost ventilation improved double pit latrines toilets in one go for all his 3 households and these served as demos where the rest of the community has been learning from. Of late, there has been reduced occurrence of diarrhoea and typhoid with no new cases being registered.

Sanitation interventions tailored for those with disabilities

In implementation of different sanitation projects, partners have faced challenges in properly addressing GESI issues. To tackle this challenge, FINISH Mondial Tanzania has begun community mobilization to specifically support GESI activities, aiming to address ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BoP) communities and people with disabilities.

Peter Mahiri Shirima is a trained artisan in Serengeti district and also a sanitation marketer. With his construction activities, he has been facing people who want to access improved sanitation facilities but are unable to pay. Similarly, some households with persons with disabilities only have one common toilet which does not have a special provision to accommodate the individual’s disability. Peter decided to find the means as how he could mobilize fellow artisans, marketers and community members to help these groups of people to have improved, appropriate toilets. Through his work, Peter met Getruda Thadeus, a disabled woman living with her 3 children and elder mother in Mugumu township. Gertruda’s elder mother is the one taking care of Getruda and her family, depending on daily housework labour. Due to the family’s precarious situation, Peter contacted FINISH Mondial Tanzania for advice. The FM Tanzania team visited to make an assessment. They agreed with the neighbours to help digging a new pit and to collect some construction materials. The masons agreed to contribute labour and FM Tanzania was able to support by providing a SATO toilet pan, specially designed for disabilities. Through supporting Peter’s initiative, it is our belief that leaving no one behind and sustainable change will be possible through such social inclusion and community mobilisation.

Getruda’s toilet (before)

Low-cost ventilation improved double pit latrine in progress and soon will be finished