Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Change Lives through Improved Sanitation

Ian Moise with a villager at a WSP sanitation visit in Indonesia. Photo: Courtesy Ian Moise

“There are 2.6 billion people without access to improved sanitation. And, according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), that’s supposed to be halved by the year 2015,” Ian Moise [mo-EEZ] told Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL).

Moise is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, who currently consults on a global sanitation project for the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). “Our project is one of the many projects working on expanding access to ‘improved sanitation’ for a target of roughly 1.3 billion people,” he said.

In our interview with Moise, he explains how WSP is making in-roads in the developing world and gives advice to people who are interested in joining the field of international development.

This is part one of a two-part series. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll find out about ReUse Connection, an innovative service that Moise began on Facebook, and learn how it fits into his views about happiness. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


BPGL: What does WSP’s sanitation program look like from a practical standpoint?

MOISE: Our program combines two tools that were developed separately to work towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) sanitation goal.

The first tool is called Community-Led Total Sanitation, or CLTS. From my perspective, CLTS has changed the dynamic of development assistance for sanitation. Development practitioners used to provide money — and even actual latrines — with the expectation that people would use the latrines because they were good for them. That approach basically failed. As it turns out, people don’t use latrines just because you build them.

The CLTS approach actually facilitates a process where people end up realizing that excrement cycles through their community and that they can make changes themselves. During this process, you guide the community to map where people defecate, where houses are, where chickens and goats roam, and where children play.

In addition, you take them on a walk through the village to see each of these areas. At some point in the process, people suddenly realize that excrement cycles through the community: The chickens and goats walk through the areas where people defecate, and then they walk back to where people are; kids walk all over the place and put their hands everywhere; etc. The flies can also transport germs by landing on the excrement in the open. And the flies come and land on food.

In the end, the community sees that when people defecate in the open, it is eating its own excrement. When people in communities see that, they get charged up. It mobilizes them in a way I have not seen in many years of development efforts.

The second tool, Sanitation Marketing, recognizes that just because people feel mobilized to do something, that doesn’t mean they’re going to carry forward with it.

BPGL: How do you market sanitation to people? Are you talking about holding classes, or putting up billboards, fliers, social networking…?

This Indonesian man is the new owner of an improved sanitation facility. Photo: Courtesy Ian Moise

MOISE: Sanitation marketing takes a lot of the principles of social marketing and applies them to sanitation. It’s quite new. CLTS is more established.

Theoretically, there is a sanitation ladder. At the bottom is open defecation, where people squat in the open. You can move up the ladder to a hole in the ground, then from a hole in the ground to maybe a slab over the hole in the ground, and then a superstructure, and incremental improvements.

It doesn’t quite work like that in reality, but the concept is that people, no matter their socio-economic status, can enter the sanitation game at some level. The idea of sanitation marketing is to provide a market that reaches all segments of the population with different products at different costs.

The basic strategy is to do market research on likes and preferences for sanitation goods and services. Then you develop a mass communication campaign based on people’s likes. For example, if people like sitting down instead of squatting, then maybe you would market a sit-down latrine instead of a squatting one.

Sanitation Marketing also looks at the supply chain and tries to facilitate the provisioning of materials to masons and vendors so they can fulfill the demand created by a communication/marketing campaign.

BPGL:Who developed these approaches for sanitation? Are these recent approaches?

MOISE: Kamal Kar and Robert Chambers are the main figures behind the CLTS approach.

International development has been going on since the 1950s or so. A lot of it was — and still is — top-down. That’s the nature of how money flows out of one person’s hand into another (i.e., from one country’s coffers to another’s).

People who give money often want control over it. It’s somewhat natural. It is hard to let go of that control and let people spend money in the way that they think is appropriate, where you may not share the same value or decision-making principles. But that is what participatory development is about – empowering people.

Robert Chambers is actually best known in international development circles for developing participatory rural appraisals, where you do mapping exercises with people and facilitate their own development. Participatory approaches such as these are utilized in the CLTS approach, which was pioneered by Kamal Kar.

BPGL: How do CLTS and Sanitation Marketing fit together?

MOISE: WSP’s program is one of the lead efforts in bringing these two approaches together. The program works with host country governments in India, Indonesia, and Tanzania to develop and implement marketing campaigns for sanitation. At the same time, it trains CLTS facilitators to catalyze, or trigger, community demand for sanitation and masons to build sanitation products.

CLTS is a great manifestation of what happens when you put development in people’s hands and facilitate that process. That’s why it’s game changing in many ways. And yet, it’s not the panacea. It’s not the silver bullet. It doesn’t make everyone suddenly have a toilet and use it and clean it and have their children use it. There’s still a long way to go.

At WSP, we feel Sanitation Marketing offers a great complement to CLTS. And it’s gaining a lot of currency not just in WSP, but with other partners as well.

An overly simplistic way to describe the combination of the two goes something like this: Mobilize people to want to change with CLTS, i.e. create demand for sanitation. Simultaneously use Sanitation Marketing to market the various sanitation options to them and build up the supply of these options.

On our website, www.wsp.org, you can learn more about both CLTS and Sanitation Marketing.

BPGL: Who provides the money for CLTS? And does the money go directly to the villages?

Villagers in Indonesia gather during a break at a Sanitation Marketing training. Photo: Courtesy Ian Moise

MOISE: One of the major tenets of “pure” CLTS — that changes significantly from previous approaches — is that it is a no-subsidy approach. The idea is that people have money, and it’s a matter of priorities on where they choose to spend their money.

And that’s true. I’ve lived in villages. When there’s a funeral, there’s plenty of money flowing out of the village to make a nice headstone and burial for the deceased. So, it’s not a question of whether there’s money. It’s a question of whether there’s will.

Think about it. People all over the world buy cell phones and fashionable items. They make choices to save up and purchase these items. The challenge is creating the conditions where they prioritize sanitation as a place to spend their money.

All the past 30 or 40 years of handing out subsidies or handing out latrine slabs has failed. The inverse of that is not subsidizing anything and putting the burden of change on the people themselves. You put the responsibility and ownership in people’s hands.

Of course, there are cases where incentives have been found to work, but the major idea is to create ownership. So, the people build what they can afford — and then they own it and care for it.

BPGL: Who pays for the work you do?

MOISE: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have led funding of the WSP work, along with Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and the World Bank, though many donors and practitioners are interested in these techniques.

BPGL: Go over the bigger picture with me for just a minute.

MOISE: The big picture:  We operate in three countries: India, Indonesia, and Tanzania. We have teams in each of those three countries.

The program works through governments, so it’s really an effort in sustainable development.

The conclusion for reaching large populations is that you have to use host-country human resources. We leverage host-country governments and nongovernmental organizations. Basically, WSP, in partnerships, has developed the tools and techniques, especially for Sanitation Marketing, and we’ve refined CLTS.

Our country teams then work with the government. That means using the various ministries or departments in the government, down to the district level, whether it’s through the health-care system or through the Ministry of the Environment, etc.

We do a lot of training using a cascading model, where we train a national training group, or a national NGO. Then they go to the district that’s been selected by the government, and they train people at the district level. The people trained at the district level are then responsible to go to the community level and facilitate various processes that ultimately lead to these communities improving their sanitation status.

BPGL: How far along is the project?

Moise visits with a woman in Indonesia about the improved sanitation facility her family recently purchased. Photo: Courtesy Ian Moise

MOISE: Our initial project goal was to reach 4.5 million people with improved sanitation, and we are on track to surpass that goal. The project is supposed to end this year.

BPGL: That is phenomenal. Are that many people actually using toilets rather than open defecation? Or did you just expose them to it?

MOISE: Monitoring is a big challenge, especially when you try to monitor 4.5 million people. We usually use the government’s monitoring system, while also trying to get independent verification.

One interesting thing about this project is its impact evaluation. It is the largest impact evaluation of its kind in the sector, to my knowledge. So, to answer your question, we can wait for the impact evaluation, which will be out in a year or year and a half. We are all very optimistic about the outcomes.

BPGL: We see a lot of young people coming out of college who want to travel internationally and do something good for the world, similar to what you’re doing, but they don’t know where to start. How can someone get started in this kind of development work?

MOISE: I’ve spoken with a lot of people coming out of college, too, and a lot of people are interested in international development, public health, whatever. The best thing I can recommend is to just go overseas.

Peace Corps, which is how I got started, is a great way, because they take care of things for you. You get training, and you get money, and an assignment. It’s not an easy thing to do, and there are lots of personal growth opportunities and challenges, but it’s good, because it is a pre-packaged affair.

There are always jobs overseas too, and if that’s what you want to do, sign up with an NGO that’s doing what you want to do, and start networking with them.

There are a number of different development websites that post jobs. Some of them are in water and sanitation, and some are not. There are a lot of resources on the web, as you can imagine. DevNetJobs.org has general development jobs. Another one is ReliefWeb.int. It’s more focused on relief and disaster response.

There’s a book called Alternatives to the Peace Corps. It lists hundreds of ways to go overseas and volunteer your time (e.g., Doctors without Borders, UN Volunteers, etc.), anywhere from a week to a month or a year. There are all kinds of different opportunities. I would suggest picking that up.

BPGL: Any last words on your international experiences?

MOISE: Working and traveling internationally is an amazing experience, and I encourage everyone who is considering it to do it. It is never too late. You cannot replace the value of learning how to see things through other people’s eyes.

End of Part 1

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Travel for Change Brings Fair-Trade Cultural Tourism to Tanzania

The first banda is nearly finished at Travel for Change International's first site near Njombe, Tanzania. Photo: Stephanie Enloe
Travel for Change’s first banda is nearly finished in Njombe, Tanzania. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

Soon after University of Iowa senior Stephanie Enloe graduates in December, she will be on a plane to Tanzania. Enloe, 22, is the director of sustainable projects for Travel for Change International, a small group of committed volunteers who are building an eco-lodge near Njombe, Tanzania. Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) met with Enloe to find out what makes Travel for Change different from other travel venues serving visitors to Tanzania. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


ENLOE: The term for what we’re doing at Travel for Change is “fair-trade cultural tourism.” In East Africa, quite often, tourist initiatives are foreign-owned — the hotels, resorts, safari companies, and climbing companies. This is the case in a lot of developing countries. Travel venues and services are foreign-owned and really expensive. People go over there thinking that they’re getting an “African experience.” They pay huge amounts of money, which goes to foreign bank accounts and is not even remotely beneficial to the people in the area.

The first goal of our organization is to create a community-owned travel initiative, where, once the business model is intact and sustaining itself, it passes into community hands.

Volunteers Lindsay Keller and MaryGrace Weber learn to carry water like the Njombe women do. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

Volunteers Lindsay Keller and MaryGrace Weber learn to carry water like the Njombe women do. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

The second goal of our initiative is to provide a cultural travel experience. When people go on a safari or see a lion, they think they’ve “been to Africa.” But maybe they’ve only talked to one Tanzanian the whole time, which is not really a cultural experience. Just seeing the animals and not meeting the people is like taking a trip to a glorified zoo. It doesn’t give a true experience.

We want to facilitate travelers interacting with Tanzanians. They can make some Tanzanian friends, maybe take a Swahili class, take a cooking class, tour small- and large-scale farms, or visit a traditional healer.

BPGL: Describe the land on which your facility will be built.

ENLOE: We’ll have two connected plots of land near Njombe, Tanzania. The first two acres we bought contain a lot of lumber. The second five acres that we’ll be buying were farmed in the past; they’re more grassy. Our reasoning for buying the second five acres is that we don’t want to have to cut down all our lumber in order to build the facility.

BPGL: How were you able to purchase land in Tanzania?

ENLOE: We’re working with a Tanzanian woman, Blandina Kaduma Giblin, whom we call Kaduma. She is a Swahili teacher here in Iowa City, married to a professor of Tanzanian history at the University of Iowa. They travel to Tanzania frequently.

The reason we chose to locate our facility in Njombe is because that’s where Kaduma is originally from. She purchased our first two acres from a family there who inherited a lot of land, but can’t farm it all. They are trying to sell it so they can have some income.

Volunteers learn to cook Njombe style in the open air. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

Volunteers learn to cook Njombe style in the open air. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

Because we’re not Tanzanian nationals, we can’t actually own land, though we can lease it for a long time — possibly 99 years. We’re in the process of writing up a contract for Travel for Change to lease the land from Kaduma. Then, through her, we’ll purchase the next five acres from another family.

BPGL: What will the project look like in terms of the physical facilities?

ENLOE: We’ll have five bandas, or guesthouses, and a larger lodge, which will be a bit more hostel-style. The lodge will house several people to a room. We may place bunk beds in a couple of the rooms. The main lodge will be designed to house study-abroad students, backpackers, and budget travelers, while the bandas will be more private.

We will have an outdoor kitchen with a roof and open sides. It will be a good community meeting place for cooking meals and giving cooking lessons. We’ll also have a fire pit and, if Kaduma gets her way, we’ll have a bar, too. We’re planning to hire a cook, once we get to the point where we’re employing people.

BPGL: Describe the bandas. What are those like?

ENLOE: The word banda means bungalow. It’s a traditional round house made of brick with a thatched roof. Once we’re up and running, and at the full capacity that we eventually want to meet, the guesthouses will be private, for singles or couples. Each banda has a choo, or bathroom, right outside.

One of Ken Msemwa's employees thatches the first choo, or bathroom. (The photo is tilted to the right.) Photo: Stephanie Enloe

One of Ken Msemwa's employees thatches the first choo, or bathroom. (The photo is tilted to the right.) Photo: Stephanie Enloe

BPGL: Is the choo an outhouse, or does it have running water?

ENLOE: There’s no running water yet; that’s something I’ll be working on when I get there. There’s a nonprofit in Tanzania that helps communities get connected to fresh water. If we build the basic infrastructure on our site, they will let us connect to their pipeline so we have running water. We’ll just have to pay a small fee every month. That should happen a couple of months after I arrive.

We’ll then become a source of clean, running water for the community, which will not only be good for the community, but also for travelers. We’ll become a gathering place.

BPGL: You were the president of the Environmental Coalition at the University of Iowa, and you’ve been heavily involved with several sustainability projects on campus and off. In fact, we interviewed you early in our first year of publishing. With that kind of background, I’d expect you to be involved in making your new venture as green and sustainable as possible. Is that the case?

ENLOE: Yes, we’re trying to be as sustainable as possible. I’m the director of sustainable projects, and I’m in charge of doing all the research for how to make the project ecologically sound. Pretty soon, my title will change to onsite director, because I’ll be doing all the things that need to be done over there.

We’re buying most of our resources to build the bandas and the lodge from right within the town. For example, the bricks are made in Njombe. We’re harvesting lumber in the most sustainable way that we can on land that we own. We’re using lots of bamboo, which is fast growing and can be replanted almost immediately.

We’re also trying to do some sustainable technology projects, such as building a rocket stove/mass heater in the first banda. A rocket stove has a vertical cylinder and a smaller, horizontal cylinder that feeds into it. Because of the way the air draws, a rocket stove is a lot more efficient than most stoves, so it uses less fuel.

Even burning small twigs, it creates really intense heat that’s well contained. There have been a lot of tests done with rocket stoves, especially in third-world countries, because deforestation and smoke are such problems.

Stephanie Enloe tries out a small rocket stove, one of the sustainable technologies to be implemented at Lukelo Lodge. Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Enloe

Stephanie Enloe tries out a small rocket stove, one of the sustainable technologies to be implemented at Lukelo Lodge. Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Enloe

You can also use the basic principle of the rocket stove to create a heater. You build a rocket stove and place a lot of thermal mass around it, like bricks and clay. The thermal mass contains the heat and releases it slowly as radiant heat, rather than conduction heat — which is really inefficient.

BPGL: What else do you expect to accomplish in Tanzania in the next year?

ENLOE: By the time I leave, we should have a lot more infrastructure done, and maybe a couple more bandas built. Our first one is already finished.

BPGL: Do you have guests staying in the first banda already?

ENLOE: Volunteers are living there now. They’re wiring us for electricity. We just got connected to the grid, which is very exciting. That means I’ll have electricity when I get there.

I’ll be living in the guesthouse for the next year. And I get to decorate it, which I’m very excited about. I’ll purchase some art from around the area, as well as some kangas or kitenges, which are pieces of fabric. Kangas have proverbs on them. Kitenges are just gorgeous cotton cloths that are dyed with incredibly vibrant colors. They often have intricate designs. We’ll use those for curtains.

BPLG: Did you hire a local contractor or are the volunteers doing the work?

ENLOE: Our contractor (or fundi in Swahili) is from Njombe District. Ken is a local man who tries to help people out by providing work the best he can. He pays fair wages, which happens sometimes over there, but not always. We’re making sure to work with someone we trust, who does a good job, and who cares about his community.

Ken is a great guy. We’ve been working with him pretty closely, and he’s going to be doing all our building projects. He does his best to employ workers who have been having a hard time financially. There are not a lot of jobs in Njombe, even for people who have gone to school.

BPGL: How did you find your contractor?

Blandina Kaduma Giblin with onsite project director Allan Kaduma. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

Blandina Kaduma Giblin with onsite project director Allan Kaduma. Photo: Stephanie Enloe

ENLOE: Allan Kuduma, who is Blandina’s brother, is a very influential member of the community in Njombe. He found Ken for us and will be our contact over there. Allan will be really helpful in telling us who to talk to in the community, who to stay away from, and whether we’re committing any horrible cultural faux pas.

We’re trying to work closely with Ken and Allan to make sure that we’re doing the job we want to do. We don’t want to be seen as odd Americans who think that they’re doing good but are really making mistakes.

BPGL: How will you communicate when you’re in Njombe? Do you speak Swahili?

ENLOE: A little bit.

BPGL: Do they speak English?

ENLOE: A little bit.

BPGL: So, you will be able to communicate a little bit. Do you know much about the culture in Njombe?

ENLOE: Yes. Alan speaks English almost fluently, which is very helpful. And there’s a woman we’re hoping to hire as my interpreter/cultural guide. She speaks English pretty well. I’ll help her with her English and she’ll help me with my Swahili. That way it’s a mutual learning, and it provides employment for her. She’s supporting a couple of children and has a job that is pretty exploitive of her time and energy. So we’re hoping to be able to employ her in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

Because I’ve been to Tanzania before and to Uganda several times, I have at least some idea of how to operate in this culture. But, obviously, it takes a long time to become fluent in another culture.

Volunteer Nate, who is a registered nurse, administers vaccines at the children's clinic in Njombe. This will be one of the volunteer opportunities available to travelers with medical experience.

Volunteer Nate, who is a registered nurse, administers vaccines at the children's clinic in Njombe. This will be one of the volunteer opportunities available to travelers with medical experience.

BPGL: What did you do in Uganda?

ENLOE: My high school, Ames High School in Ames, Iowa, plans a Uganda trip every summer for about a month. The first year, we built classrooms for a girls’ secondary school. The second year, we built dorms for the school. The third year, we built the science lab and library for the school.

We raised all the funds for the buildings. We were on the work site every day, helping make the cement and carrying the bricks, and that kind of thing. It doesn’t make that much sense, in some ways, because the workers could probably have used the additional days of work. But, at the same time, it was a really great way to learn from the workers and the girls who were going to school there. It was life-changing.

Ames High has graduated more activists and Africa enthusiasts than any other high school in the nation, I can almost guarantee you. This program has been going on for 7 years, taking between 15 and 30 kids every summer. After going to Uganda, almost every one of them is committed to spending a good portion of their life doing work over there.

I’m an example of one of those kids, and I could name dozens of others who are going to spend their lives doing work over there. $3,000 for a high school kid to spend a month in Uganda seems kind of silly in some ways, because that money could do a lot of good over there. But, at the same time, investing in a kid’s world view being completely altered has, over the long term, a lot more effect.

BPGL: You mentioned at the start of the interview that your goal is to hand over operation of the facility to the community once its sustainable. What will that look like?

ENLOE: Once we are sure we have a sustainable model, the people in the community will get to decide how to direct the funds. They will determine what the salaries are for the people who are working at the lodge, what micro-lending projects they will approve, what community development projects they want to do — whatever the community needs. Hopefully Travel for Change will get them some resources to be able to do these projects.

We don’t want to step on any toes or be redundant in any way. For example, if there’s already a micro-lending institution there that’s doing a great job, that saves us the work of setting up our own micro-lending organization.

BPGL: Is Travel for Change a nonprofit organization?

ENLOE: Right now, we are registered as a nonprofit in Iowa. We’re working on the final legal touches to our 501(c)3. Once I get over to Tanzania, I’ll be negotiating the legalities of getting us registered as a nonprofit there. One of our board members is in contact with a person who has started some nonprofits in Tanzania. He’s going to be giving us some direction.

Students from PIBV (Penn International Business Volunteers) work with TFCI to develop business and marketing plans to sell hand-woven baskets as a fundraiser.

Students from PIBV (Penn International Business Volunteers) work with TFCI to develop business and marketing plans to sell hand-woven baskets as a fundraiser.

Obviously, we also need to finish getting our nonprofit status cemented in both the U.S. and Tanzania. We want to build a board in Tanzania and network with all the other nonprofits and NGOs in Njombe. That way, if volunteers come over, we’ll know who they can volunteer with, exactly what our niche can be, and how we can collaborate with nonprofits in the area.

BPGL: If people want to support Travel for Change, can they make tax-deductible contributions? Or is that not the case yet?

ENLOE: We’re not tax-deductible quite yet. Hopefully, we will be very soon. We have a PayPal account set up on our website for people who want to make a goodwill investment. The term “investment” implies a more sustainable use of the money. And that’s what we’re trying to do, create sustainable incomes for people, rather than be a charity.

We have a catalog on our website, where people can donate a specific amount of money to buy ten bricks, or donate another amount to buy a share of a banda, and so on.

We sell seed bracelets made by Maasai women. You can see those on our website. We also have baskets and kangas and kitenges to sell. We don’t sell those through the Internet, because the diversity of what we offer is too much to put on there. But we occasionally have fundraisers where we sell those.

In fact, we’re in the process of trying to set up a fundraiser now. If your readers are interested, they can find out more on our Travel for Change Facebook site or the Travel for Change website. All of the handcrafts we have for sale make great gifts!

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living