» by Volker Hüls
This report is based on an analysis of the structure, coordination and practice of hygiene and sanitation promotion in
Somaliland. It is the result of consulting a wide variety of actors in this sector and attempts to reflect the current
thinking of everybody involved in improving the sanitary conditions of the Somaliland people. While the analysis
originally focused on training in the hygiene and sanitation sector, in its course it turned out to be indicative of how
the Somaliland government and the development partners in the country interact, and, due to the relevance of local
government structures for the sector, a paradigm for decentralisation of the state and local governance.
Educating the Somaliland population, in particular the rural population, in matters of hygiene and sanitation proves to
be a major challenge for improving their living conditions. Numerous approaches have been and are being used, ranging
from simple public campaigns conveying general messages to long-term participatory training in individual villages or
towns. In rural areas, where access to information is poorest, the latter has shown to be the most promising and
sustainable approach. Less intensive methods make sense in predominantly urban public awareness campaigns, but
continue to be used as the only form of education in many rural interventions. This happens for a variety of reasons
like mandates, funding or security restrictions. However, some organisations have demonstrated that long-term
participatory methodologies are feasible and practical in Somaliland. The sector is therefore characterised by a wide
variety of methodologies and a common approach remains to be established.
To facilitate this, Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Luxembourg, in a consortium as ‘Swiss Group’ and funded by the
European Union, have adapted the existing PHAST methodology for the Somaliland context. Based on PHAST they have
also developed the CHAST approach for educating children in hygiene and sanitation, and have productively applied both
in their projects. The Swiss Group experience continues to be shared with other development partners through training
courses and workshops. However, these efforts until today have not been sufficient to achieve common standards.
Two main reasons for this are identified in this paper. Firstly, the international development partners do not interact
sufficiently amongst themselves or with all practically relevant levels of the Somaliland government. Secondly,
the government not only lacks capacity but also the legal instruments to ensure a common approach. Both shortcomings
are not new, nor are they particularly surprising. They continue, however, to impede sustainable development in
all sectors, not only in hygiene and sanitation. The interaction of development actors with each other and their host
government is at a status quo that is not as productive as it could be.
More than coordination is needed if a common approach should be achieved. Somaliland is a functioning state,
notwithstanding its international status, and its government and not the international community should steer the
development of the country. As opposed to mere coordination this has significant merit. Firstly, a proactive
government can use its local knowledge about what the people of the country need to direct organisations to areas
that are most in need. Secondly, a knowledgeable government can advise the development actors on which approaches
are most suitable. Everybody consulted in this study supports the notion of a more rules-based nationwide approach to
hygiene and sanitation promotion and hygiene and sanitation in general. It is felt that if the government set clear
standards for training methodology and contents (and beyond this for the whole sector) a common approach would
develop even without the need for enforcement. Similarly, a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of the
different levels of government would improve the application of such common standards.
A strategic common approach to hygiene and sanitation training and hygiene and sanitation in general could be achieved at
different levels of stringency. A 'Best Practices' paper could certainly be a good basis, and national standards for all
aspects of hygiene and sanitation, including training, could build on such a basic document. A national hygiene and
sanitation policy would be the most stringent document.
Such Policy appears to be the most suitable instrument to tackle the structural problems in the sector, and it would
be able to build on and expand the successful establishment of policies in the water and the health sector. Beyond
hygiene and sanitation this will further strengthen a government that still lacks capacity and has the potential to
empower local government.
It is doubtful that the 'lesser' documents that have been suggested will achieve a concerted approach for hygiene
and sanitation (promotion) as well as a policy can. It is therefore recommended to pursue the formulation of policy
to further structure in the hygiene and sanitation sector in Somaliland.
© Volker Hüls / Caritas Switzerland 2005.
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