Sofia Update 3

Last week we had an external Monitoring And Evaluation person to check on our progress from DFATs point of view.  Unfortunately, the funding came through from DFAT very late, and as our team has barely been set up, we have not made much progress.  He helped us align our thinking as a team and made sure we are headed in the right direction.  One thing he suggested was building of sanitation parks in the communities, showcasing a range of toilet and hand washing facilities, rather than Live and Learn's proposed demo toilet, which would just showcase compost toilets.

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The current compost toilet solution used by Live and Learn is good, but not affordable for everyone in the community, and the compost toilets in Phase 1 of the project have not been maintained or used correctly by the communities where they were built.  This, coupled with the team's conviction that compost toilets are the best, will be an interesting engineering challenge for me.

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More interestingly, we had two community meetings with our selected communities, and they both went really well.  One of my team's strengths is definitely community consultation.   Mine is not so good, as I am still learning Bislama, although now I understand 90% of WASH related conversations. Or I think I do. 

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The purpose of these meetings was to introduce the project concepts and plans, and make sure that the community was sufficiently engaged and interested in working with us.  The communities were selected from a range of preliminary visits in October, which assessed 7 communities against criteria in the Project Operational Plan.

The idea going forward is to do a thorough market analysis and then help them establish a small business which will build and maintain the sanitation park with some seed money, and from there build and maintain sanitation facilities for individuals in the communities and surrounding areas.  This has never been successful in the Pacific before, and selling toilets isn't sexy, no matter how you label it, but there is a lot of interest, so here's hoping.