It’s easy to talk shit. Which is to say, it’s not difficult to identify challenges within sanitation programs; there are many. What’s difficult is to find the root of those challenges and then develop a viable plan to address them and ultimately move the sector forward.
Day 3 of the Unclogging Blockages conference, the final day, forced participants to think practically and critically about the solutions they were proposing. What is actionable? What has been done before? Where can we collaborate with others? What is beyond our capacity? Why is each step necessary?
Satya Chaubey of PSI India was lead facilitator for the team assigned the task of designing a solution to improve consumer and enterprise-level financing. Unlike traditional donor funding for implementing an entire program, this level of finance is lent to individual households and businesses – most commonly known as microfinance loans. Over the course of Day 3 and with regular feedback from other workshop participants, Satya's team outlined their action plan: create a Global Sanitation Financing Alliance at the international donor level that provides financing at the local level. They gave specific tasks to be completed, all the way down to, "write a concept note" and called upon workshop participants to commit themselves or their organizations to assist with the completion of that task.
By outlining a clear pathway forward, this week's teams have taken the typical conference to a new level. It's not enough to know the problems and suggest solutions; we need to take action to Unclog the Blockages.