Another one of the fascinating case studies dug up by Sophie King for my recent UN paper on ‘The Role of the State in Empowering Poor and Excluded Groups and Individuals’. This one looks at two examples of devolution that seem to work
Devolving forest management to local people, Dak Lak, Vietnam
By the mid-1990s the lack of effective provincial forest management in Dak Lak province had resulted in extensive deforestation, as indigenous andmigrant groups cleared land for subsistence and commercial production. In 1997, the central government called on the provincial government to curb deforestation and uncontrolled migration. From 1997 the official German development agency GTZ worked in partnership with the provincial department of agriculture and rural development to introduce participatory and sustainable forest management. The programme involved technical assistance to the local government, developing capacity for land-use planning at the commune-level; and land distribution to ethnic minority households. Local people were engaged in developing village-level regulations for land use. Local households were given the rights to forest resources as well as long-term land titles, and families involved in managing the forests were granted a quota of timber and 6% of after-tax value of the timber logged once the forest matures.
Deforestation slowed down in devolved areas
Between 1999 (the year before devolution was introduced) and 2001/2, the total value of goods harvested from the forest grew by 170%
This harvest accounted for on average 67.6% of non-farm income for participating households
Indigenous groups’ land rights were strengthened
The programme was effectively extended to other forested provinces
The programme did not incorporate aspects of the customary forest governance structure of the local ethnic group
Local people had little or no access to justice in order to defend their new rights – farmers therefore struggled to protect their timber from illegal logging
Tensions remained with local state forestry authorities who experienced a loss of control and associated benefits
Drivers of success:
There was an urgent need for change because of the serious decline in forest resources under state management
Despite tension with the local forestry authority, there was political support for the reforms within the provincial government and strong political commitment from central government, including investment of financial resources
Availability of technical support from GTZ. This was particularly helpful as forest devolution was unprecedented in Vietnam.
The initial emphasis on training and capacity-building of provincial administration.
Responding to civil society initiatives – co-production of sanitation in Karachi
Orangi is a large informal settlement in Karachi, Pakistan. In 1982, residents suffered from high child mortality rates linked to appalling local living conditions. A local NGO called the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) developed an alternative model for sanitation: ‘the residents of a lane or street paid for the lane investment in sanitation while the municipality took on responsibility for the sewer network into which this fed, and also the waste treatment plants’. After initial reluctance, the municipality eventually agreed to this co-management arrangement and the idea of community-installed and managed sanitation spread rapidly through the settlement.
The process has strengthened local organisations and made them more likely to engage with formal political structures, rather than operating through clientelist networks
In Orangi, 96,994 houses built their neighbourhood sanitation systems, by investing Rs. 94.29 million (US$ 1.57 million)
20 years after the work began in Orangi, the city of Karachi decided that the strategy should be supported throughout the city
A lock-in is a paradigmatic syndrome in which there is strong mutually-supporting inflexibility. Let us examine two examples of paradigmatic lock-ins which have been comprehensively turned on their heads to create new counter-intuitive, counter-commonsense, syndromes of startling potency. They raise questions about what Donald Rumsfeld famously described as ‘unknown unknowns’. Looking back at the lock-ins which they have transformed, they can be seen as liberations. The first liberation concerns rice cultivation and the second rural sanitation.
The rice plant can tolerate flooding, but grows better in mainly aerobic conditions. Farmers flood their fields to control weeds, substituting water for labour. Scientists have taken this as a norm. Conventional paddy growing practices are relatively management sparing. Seedlings are grown in a flooded seed bed, uprooted quite roughly when 21-40 days old and transplanted by being pushed down in clumps of 3, 4 or more into flooded, puddled soil, either in lines or at random and close together. Fields are then kept flooded throughout the growing cycle.
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) simultaneously changes all these practices. Seedlings when still very young and small, 8-12 days old, are transplanted carefully (the principle is TLC – tender loving care), 1-2 plants per hill and widely spaced in a square pattern: this reduces plant population by two-thirds or more. The paddy soil is kept moist with mostly aerobic conditions, with intermittent applications of light irrigation. Manual push-weeders control weeds and churn up and aerate the soil. There are many benefits and few disbenefits from this set of practices: plants are supported above ground by more extensive longer-lived root systems, are stronger and healthier and more resistant to pests and diseases and to drought and storms, and produce many more tillers (each of which bears a head of grains) which also give better outturns in milling. Across many rice varieties, on-farm evaluations in eight countries found yields raised by an average of 47 per cent, with water savings averaging 40 per cent.Costs of production per hectare were reduced by 23 per cent and farmers’ net income per hectare was boosted by 68 per cent.
Traditional rice research, notably that of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has been locked into a paradigm of crop improvement through breeding higher-yielding varieties, responsive to chemical fertiliser, and dependent on large amounts of water for flooding. This genocentric strategy led to the Green Revolution. There have been other successes particularly with some disease resistance, and recently with developments in GM breeding for beta-carotene (for Vitamin A). But despite huge investments there have been no broad improvements which work with all varieties equivalent to those with SRI management. Nor which bring such multiple benefits. SRI is a green revolution of a different sort.
Turning to rural sanitation, the conventional approach worldwide has had two thrusts: first, to teach and educate, seeking to induce changes in behaviour (software); and second, to subsidize the installation of facilities (hardware) designed by engineers. The reasoning has been that poor people need to be taught the importance of hygienic behaviour, and that they deserve decent sanitation but cannot afford it. However, didactic strategies of behaviour change have had rather limited effect, and the commonsense approach of hardware subsidies has not worked: the experience in many countries, with both Government and NGO programmes, has been that many of the toilets constructed are not used or are used for other purposes.
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), like SRI, turns conventions on their heads, with radical, simultaneous, mutually-supporting changes. Instead of teaching people, there is facilitation of people’s own appraisal and analysis of their own open defecation and its effects. Instead of subsidies for hardware for individual households, people dig their own pits and construct their own latrines. Instead of being handed down engineering designs, people make their own designs. Instead of outside interventions for those least able to construct their own latrines, community members are encouraged to help them. Instead the number of latrines constructed, the focus is more on how many communities have been verified as open defecation-free.
Students learning SRI the hard way
SRI and CLTS have met with similar resistances from the respective professions. Both confront the stasis of accepted commonsense conventions: these stem from and are locked in by professional training and norms – of rice research scientists and of engineers and others who promote rural sanitation. The lock-ins are reinforced by funding.
Both SRI and CLTS entail multiple simultaneous changes of concepts, principles, methods, behaviours, relationships and mindsets. Both are, in a full sense, shifts or flips of paradigm taking us into new spaces with dramatic new potentials. Neither cost much to develop. Both were evolved by doing, hands-on, in local conditions. Both are close to the lives and realities of poor rural people. Both were discovered by remarkable innovators – Father de Laulanié with SRI in Madagascar in the mid-1980s,and Kamal Kar with CLTS in Bangladesh in early 2000. Both have been spread internationally by champions fired with well-informed enthusiasm – Norman Uphoff with SRI, and Kamal Kar himself with CLTS, both of them quickly joined by many other champions energized through the wonder and excitement of ‘seeing is believing’ personal experience of dramatic transformations.
These two movements are unstoppable and spreading on a remarkable scale. The governments of China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, where together two-thirds of the world’s rice is produced, are promoting SRI methods, based on their own evaluations and results. Worldwide, the number of farmers benefiting from SRI practices in over 40 countries is in the range of 2 million and growing rapidly.
In mid-2011, CLTS practices are also found in over 40 countries. Spread has been most extensive in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, with other African countries following hard on their heels. It is increasingly endorsed by governments as policy or approved practice. As of mid-2011 well over 10 million people lived in communities that had been declared open defecation free, while millions more should be benefiting in communities which are not yet ODF.
SRI and CLTS raise acute questions. I pose these as challenges to you and to all development professionals:
Are we disabled by lock-ins to paradigms and mindsets which narrow, focus and frame our vision so that, as with traditional rice research and rural sanitation, we fail to see and find breakthroughs?
Are there other development liberations from lock-ins waiting to be discovered and promoted?
If there may be, how should we set about looking for them? How in other words can radical, revolutionary, innovators and disseminators – de Laulanié’s, Uphoffs, and Kamal Kars – be found, supported and encouraged?
Do we need to take more risks and to celebrate failures in development, as Engineers Without Borders do? Should we judge harshly any organisation that cannot boast of the risks it takes, and of its failures to prove it? Is lack of failures itself a failure?
There may be clues in the commonalities of SRI and CLTS. Both were counter-intuitive. Both confronted and upended unquestioned commonsense and conventions of deeply rooted neo-Newtonian best practice. Both originated from grounded hands-on innovation, observation and awareness. And both followed many years of applied experimental experience – de Laulanié’s growing rice and Kamal Kar’s in participatory facilitation and development. Does this mean that such people and such conditions should be sought out and supported?
So finally – are these transformative international movements of SRI and CLTS one-off phenomena? Or are they forerunners of much else waiting to be discovered and spread? Are there similarly paradigmatic flips lurking latent in other improbable domains? And will future generations look back and marvel at how we could have been so timid, unimaginative and lacking in hands-on creativity, that none of us discovered them earlier?
See also Robert’s guest post on CLTS , or this three minute intro video featuring Kamal Kar
Just spent an intense couple of days at Oxfam Reflects, a biannual event where a mix of staff, partners and a sprinkling of professors and
A typical water engineer...
other wonks shut themselves away to talk through a thematic issue that is confusing the organization and needs a bit of kicking around.
This one was on water – trying to cover both Oxfam’s traditional specialism in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), especially in emergencies (think Indiana Jones engineers getting clean water flowing within 48 hours of an earthquake) and broader concerns about long term access to water, whether for personal use or agriculture.
I won’t bore you with a conference report, but after battling through a blizzard of unfamiliar acronyms and concepts, here are some random (and very superficial) highlights and impressions.
First the problem analysis: (Relatively) good news on water, terrible news on sanitation. The number of people without access to clean water is down to 900million, but we’re now up to 2.6 billion people (one in three) who lack access to decent sanitation. Probably no accident that with sanitation as the most off-target MDG, the health targets are next worse.
Stand back, and water is one of the pinch points in a resource constrained world – it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to find enough to grow the crops to feed the world, and a global water crunch is well advanced, with climate change as an accelerator.
Then the obvious point that (even poor) people in rich countries are far more water secure than those in poor ones, but as always, any sense of history is weirdly absent – how have now-developed countries achieved water security? Surely there’s a case for some examination of the roles of state, private sector, civil society, war/other shocks, technology etc in water take-offs? References welcome.
One new and alarming fact on North v South – the extraordinary differences in rainfall variability, which is far higher in poor countries than in most rich ones and takes a large chunk out of the economy, according to work by David Grey (one of the profs). Potential for a bit of geographical determinism there, I fear.
What is Oxfam already doing? Much more than I realized, and not just on emergencies. True, most WASH spending is humanitarian (about ¾), but we still spent £16m on non-humanitarian WASH last year. In terms of numbers of people, I was a bit baffled by the numbers, but we seem to be reaching upwards of 6 million on humanitarian, and 2 million with some degree of long term support. Blimey, that’s a lot of people. There was also an unusual degree of self-congratulation on innovation in longer-term WASH work (I’ll cover that in a separate post). Another post is in the pipeline on some fascinating work in Tajikistan, where Oxfam has functioned as a convenor, brokering discussions between all the players, rather than a lobbyist, with some spectacular results.
It wasn’t all positive though (self-doubt is our product?). There was the usual lament about the divide between emergency work, long term development and advocacy, and the difficulty of bridging it (Indiana Jones hasn’t always got a lot of time for participatory processes…..). But has any organization overcome that and if so, how? Are there not genuine reasons for such a divide (such as the kinds of people you need)? When I asked this, the examples people gave of organizations that move across all three were all national civil society organizations (rather than international players) – interesting.
Worth comparing the received wisdom on access to water with those on health and education: there seems to be much more of a need to prove competence on the ground before trying to engage government or private sector. In fact it is debatable whether the distinction between programming and advocacy makes sense in water – influence happens as much through conversations between engineers (theirs and ours) as through traditional campaigning. There is also a much greater acceptance of a role for private sector and market mechanisms. That’s particularly true of domestic companies, as foreign investment has largely failed to materialize (or been a disaster, as in Cochabamba). It would also be interesting to cross fertilize between thinking on water security and food security.
And finally, what could be Oxfam’s niche? A lot of agreement in the room on seven areas: work in urban areas, not just rural; develop approaches based on recognizing that water insecurity is more often long term and/or cyclical than one off (e.g. floods in South Asia, droughts and floods in East Africa); design programmes that foster innovation; think about multiple use systems (eg the same well providing drinking water for people and cattle); focus on advocacy both at national and global level; water resource management in agriculture and finally, concentrate on addign gender equality and women’s rights to an often gender-blind debate.
I found the complexity mind-boggling – grow more food; generate more energy; use less water; emit less GHGs. How is it going to happen? There were a few discourses in the room: technology as a get out of jail free card; trust in markets – prices will sort it out; avoid generalizations and do it one place at a time – context specificity as all; or just try harder to become more benign and omniscient planners. The first two ignore equity, the third just ducks the question and we all know about planners. What’s the alternative? Concentrate on social mobilisation to redistribute power, so that all four solutions are more likely to benefit poor people?
Don’t panic, no decisions were made (hey, this was an NGO meeting…….), and Oxfam won’t suddenly start building thousands of wells, or
water use in the Arab Emirates
go large on water campaigning. Change in a big organization happens more subtly (and slowly) than that. This will all be chewed over at length before being swallowed/spat out. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Finally, my top recommendation. A global campaign against water-guzzling golf courses in Kenya, the Philippines, pretty much anywhere (except Scotland, no shortage of rain there). Just think of the punning potential – teed off about golf? Join the club…….
And here’s a bit of traditional WASH work in action – getting clean water into last year’s cholera outbreak in Haiti
Robert Chambers is a participatory development guru with a nice line in modesty. The one line bio he sent for this post reads ‘Robert Chambers is a research associate at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, currently working on Community-Led Total Sanitation’. Well OK, but he’s also author of books that have changed the way we see development, such as Whose Reality Counts? and Revolutions in Development Enquiry. In his late 70s, he remains an extraordinarily energetic and influential voice across the development world, his achievements discussed in a new book about his work ’Revolutionising Development‘. So I was excited and honoured when he agreed to write this:
“CLTS is Community-Led Total Sanitation. It does not sound such a big deal, but it is revolutionary. Hype? We have so many ‘revolutions’ in development that only last a year or two and then fade into history. But this one is different. In all the years I have worked in development this is as thrilling and transformative as anything I have been involved in. Let me explain.
First, sanitation and scale. 2.6 billion people today lack improved sanitation. 1.1 billion defecate in the open. The MDG for sanitation is badly off track in most countries. All the other MDGs are affected.
Second, sanitation and hygiene matter much more than most people realise. Where they lack, the effects are horrendous. Faecally-related infections are many. Everyone has heard of the diarrhoeas and feels outrage at over 2 million children killed by diarrhoea each year. We hear about cholera outbreaks. But who hears about the guts of 1.5 billion people hosting greedy parasitic ascaris worms, about 740 million with hookworm voraciously devouring their blood, 200 million with debilitating schistosomiasis or 40 to 70 million with liverfluke? And what about hepatitis, giardia, tapeworms, typhoid, polio, trachoma…? On top of all these, many millions are likely to be affected by tropical enteropathy with damage to the gut wall reducing nutrient absorption (in effect wasting food) and diverting nutritional energy to make antibodies. All these can be dealt with through safe disposal of excreta and hygienic behaviour. We give undernourished children more and better food. Let that continue. But we can reasonably ask whether attacking undernutrition through sanitation and hygiene may not in many cases be more effective and more lasting?
Worldwide the traditional approach to hygiene has been education – people have to be taught, and hardware subsidy – poor people cannot afford toilets and have to be given them. Rural areas in developing countries are littered with the results: toilets not used, put to other purposes as stores, hencoops, a shrine and the like, or dismantled and the materials used elsewhere. Or the toilets go to those who are better off, not the poor. The dollars wasted must run into billions; and in some countries like India very large sums continue to go, so to speak, down the drain.
CLTS turns these failed approaches on their heads. There is no standard design, no hardware subsidy, no teaching, no special measures for people unable to help themselves, and no use of polite words – shit is shit. India leads in the international glossary of words for shit with Kenya runner up. Communities are triggered, facilitated to do their own analysis of their behaviour – through making their own participatory social and shit maps, inspecting the shit in the areas of open defecation (OD), and analysing pathways from shit to mouth. Often children are facilitated in parallel with adults and then present their findings to them. Throughout, there is a cocktail of embarrassment, laughter and disgust. When people realize that ‘We are eating one another’s shit’ it can ignite immediate action to dig pits and construct latrines with their own resources.
A follow up of encouragement, emphasising handwashing and hygiene as well as construction, is important. Ideally and often, those unable to dig and build for themselves are helped by others. It is in the common interest. When a community can declare itself ODF (open defecation free), external verification takes place, with subsequent celebration.
CLTS was pioneered in 2000 by Kamal Kar in Bangladesh. Since then he and now many others have been energetically spreading it round the world. Plan International, Unicef, the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank, and Water Aid are among the organisations behind it. It is happening in over 40 countries. In a few it has stalled, but in most it is spreading, even exponentially. It is widespread in parts of South and Southeast Asia. In Africa, Sierra Leone, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi stand out. The scene changes fast. In more and more countries CLTS has been adopted as Government policy and hardware subsidies to individual households have been stopped, sometimes facing down donors. Worldwide, after discounting heavily for misleading reports of targets achieved, probably over 10 million people are now living in communities that have credibly been declared ODF.
CLTS is not a magic wand. It faces serious obstacles – entrenched (and large) budgets for hardware subsidies; professional and bureaucratic sceptics and vested interests; training facilitators in classrooms when it needs to be hands-on in real time in communities; programmes with targets that are then reported ‘achieved’; myths of success; donor and lender agencies insisting on subsidies; and the corruption that so often goes with hardware programmes.
But it is driven by passionate champions. And they multiply. They emerge at all levels. Once they have experienced the power of CLTS, many become energetically committed. They realise how it enhances human wellbeing. They see what a difference having a toilet makes to women and girls in particular – issues of privacy, menstrual hygiene, self-respect, and the bodily wellbeing of being able to defecate during daylight, which is such a transformation for women in South Asia.
CLTS has spread initially in rural areas. But in India, Kenya, Mauritania and Nigeria it has been pioneered in urban slums. Watch this space. And it has applications too for solid waste and liquid waste management, and perhaps other domains.
So, yes, it is thrilling. It is an international movement, itself a community of like-minded people who are inspired by what they recognise as a vast potential. The MDG for sanitation is badly off-track in almost all countries. With CLTS it need not be. After a slow but steady start, Kenya is rolling out a big programme and has set itself the target of making all rural areas ODF by 2013. Others are doing likewise. The questions now are how well it can be taken to scale, and whether enough people at all levels – from policy-makers to local leaders and facilitators - have the vision, guts and commitment to make it happen widely and well.
By 2020, say, could it be not ten million but hundreds of millions who benefit? Is it hyperbole to say that the opportunity is brilliant? What do you think?”
And here’s the 3 minute intro video featuring Kamal Kar (many more videos from Mali, Mozambique, India etc here)
It’s world water day
Bad watsan ruins lives but
gets ignored. So act!
Today is world water day, and reader Steve Cockburn, coordinator of a global coalition called End Water Poverty, of which Oxfam is a member, has kindly done my job for me by sending over some links and analysis. This is all him, not me:
‘UNICEF/WHO last week released their Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation report tracking progress in the sector. Plenty in there but the main headline shows that although water is on track globally (but certainly not in Africa), to meet the sanitation Millennium Development Goal (“Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation”), the sanitation target won’t be met for another 200 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. That puts it up there with maternal mortality as oneo f the most off-track MDG targets on the continent.
This raises questions around the processes of policy-making that make sanitation in particular so neglected in terms of investment and prioritisation at all levels (donor and recipient governments, international institutions, but also NGOs) when theoretically everyone understands it is central to child health (28% of child deaths due to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)-related causes, according to the WHO), girls education (half the school girls dropping out in Africa do so because of poor facilities), and nutrition. You see it all the time. [Steve, you’re going to have to spell out your answers to those questions in the comments section!]
Globally, there is a push to create a new global platform, not dissimilar to Education for All (EFA) or the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), to improve the sector’s performance and political presence. It’s called Sanitation and Water for All: A Global Framework for Action (SWA), and you can read more on our semi-private Google Site that we use to share info with partners. On April 23 there will be the first ‘High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water’ to kick this off, though big questions remain about whether governmetns will use it as a chance to turn words into deeds - see our ‘manifesto‘ for the event.
Finally, there’s the first truly global campaign on sanitation to try and step up the public pressure. We’re coordinating a campaign in 70 countries around the theme of The World’s Longest Toilet Queue, mobilising people to stand up for their rights to safe sanitation, and to seek to influence that high-level event one month later. Hopefully it can help put sanitatation back into the mainstream debate where it belongs.
Some other reports/resources that may be useful reference, sorry for the bombardment!:
This blog is written and maintained by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of 'From Poverty to Power'. More information on Duncan and the book is available on the From Poverty to Power official website.
It is a personal reflection by the author. It is intended to provoke debate and conversations about development, not as a comprehensive statement of Oxfam's agreed policies - for those, please take a deep breath and read the Oxfam International strategic plan or consult policy papers on a range of development issues.