“Securing Water, Energy, Sanitation and Livelihoods through Consensus” examined Community Health Clubs (CHCs), a model for achieving fully functional communities that enables villagers to manage their own health and development initiatives, including sanitation, in a sustainable, integrated way.

CHCs are voluntary village structures that provide a framework for local people to work effectively as a group and achieve consensus. The CHC model takes the community through four phases, each lasting around a year. These focus on 1. health education and hygiene promotion, 2. sanitation and solid waste disposal, 3. water and energy, 4. food, agriculture and nutrition.The aim is for communities to achieve safe hygiene and sanitation for all, to ensure that existing water resources are potable, to boost food production and preservation, to avert deforestation, and to minimize 80% of common diseases that affect the poorest of the poor through the empowerment of women.

The CHC model contrasts strongly with Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), an increasingly popular approach that focuses on initiating change through disgust and shame regarding open defecation.

“Although it’s well-intentioned and certainly works to reduce open defecation, CLTS can have limited long-term impacts. CHCs build in sustainable sanitation, treating excreta and wastewater as potential resources with understanding, while CLTS often reinforces the idea of these as waste products that should be hidden,“ said Arno Rosemarin, Senior Research Fellow at SEI and a presenter at the seminar.

The seminar discussed the social psychology of the CHC model, and presented learning from each of the four stages from case studies in three sub-Saharan African countries, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and similar community-led approaches in Benin and Kenya.

Participants also discussed whether the CHC Model is replicable at scale in other developing countries.

Watch videos of the full seminar (external link) »