Meya, Samuel, Class of 2014 – (Malawi)

Practicum Summary:

Exploration of Sustainability Mechanisms for Wash Interventions in TA Mphuka in Thyolo District in Malawi

In Samuel’s research practicum, he explores the factors that have contributed to failure for communities of Traditional Authority Mphuka in Thylo District in Malawi to stain their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives. The goal of the study is to allow development agencies to realize the existing gap in approaches and work on a solution for the sustainable implementation of community initiatives after the withdrawal of agency staff. Communities where development agencies have worked often expect service providers to continue managing projects, such as boreholes, taps, and shallow wells that were “handed over” to the community after a certain point. In his study, Samuel highlights the fact that roughly half of WASH initiatives fail to function sustainably after the withdrawal of development workers due to the community’s lack of knowledge on how the tool functions, and lack of ownership over the project. Through his research, Samuel formed recommendations that could improve the effectiveness and sustainability of WASH initiatives. These include highly participatory programs that engage relevant stakeholders such as the community, government, NGOs, civil society, and local leaders, creating an environment conducive to community ownership of a project, bottom-up management projects, clarifying community commitment, monitoring and evaluation programs, eliminating early exits by development groups, using local community organizations in carrying out WASH initiatives, and mainstreaming WASH tools using sanitation marketing.