Change such as this, once it has gained momentum, will contribute to Ethiopia’s target to achieve 80% open defecation free status by the end of 2015.

In May 2014, SNV launched the San Waghimra Project as part of the UK Department for International Development (DFID)-supported Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All Results Programme (SSH4A), now being implemented across nine countries in Africa and Asia.

The San Waghimra Project focuses on six woredas of the Waghimra zone of Amhara National Regional State in Ethiopia, supporting the government in ensuring 1,440 villages become open defecation free (ODF) - thus contributing to the country’s 80% target of ODF status by the end of 2015, enabling each household to gain increased access to hygiene and sanitation.

The implementing development partner for the San Waghimra Project, the Organisation for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA), is working in partnership with SNV, the government and other private sector actors within the six woredas in the zone to enhance local government capacity, establish effective sanitation supply chains, provide access to finance, as well as advocate on and promote hygiene behavioural change.

Tigabu Aynu, Deputy Head of the Waghimra Zone Health Department remarked, in his opening speech during the five days CLTSH Master training of trainers (ToT): "Despite our effort to change the sanitation and hygiene situation of the zone, the number of people practising open defecation has shown insignificant change. We hope this project will create capacity to ensure change in sustainable sanitation facilities and hygiene services usage."

Early in the morning of 22 September, the community in Dubble village of Sekota Zuria Woreda in Waghimra zone, started to walk in the village with the facilitators of the ignition from one end to the other to locate open defecation areas and build rapport on its sanitation situation after on-the-spot explanation of the purpose of the visit and getting consent to walk inside their village along with them.

Walking through the village, the facilitators suddenly stopped, spotting faeces along the way. In spite of the fact that the villagers from 57 households practiced open defecation, towards the beginning of the visit they denied that open defecation was practised in the community.

In fact, the zone has 13% access to improved sanitation facilities and limited access to development partners working in sanitation and hygiene due to its difficult topography and geographic location and hence the zone has the lowest health service coverage particularly access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the region.

A baseline survey conducted recently by SNV with a sample of 2,186 households in six woredas of the implementation zone reveals that 78.1% of the target households practiced open defecation. Out of the 21.9% households who had access to toilets, 20.1%, 1.6% and 0.2% of them had toilets with slab, without slab and shared facilities respectively. The survey also revealed that male–headed (23.5%) households have relatively better access to toilets than the female-headed (15.4%) as the latter has constraints in the required financial and physical power necessary to dig and construct toilets.

" I know that a toilet is very important for women and children, particularly girls. I had a toilet. I will rebuild it as soon as possible" said Tseganesh Dessie, a single mother who participated in the triggering process using the CLTSH approach.

The community having passed through all the triggering procedures of CLTSH – transect walk, community sanitation mapping, shit calculation, shit flow diagram and water and/or bread exercises – recognised the need for improved sanitation and hygiene, agreed to complete building toilets in their households as well as public areas and to stop defecating openly in their village within 35 days. 

Change such as this, once it has gained momentum, will contribute to Ethiopia's target to achieve 80% open defecation free status by the end of 2015.