Brief description of the project
There have been some recent innovations in the provision of pro-poor WASH services for households and communities and the Village Savings and Loans (VSLs) has been one. As a country emerging from conflict, many organizations started implementing VSLs to provide support to communities to mobilise resources for their worn livelihood facilities. Plan Sierra-Leone, a child centred organization working in education, health, child protection and livelihood, is one of them. Beyond VSLs, Plan Sierra-Leone is pioneering a WASH Savings Scheme to help communities develop, maintain and sustain their own WASH facilities. The scheme has been in operation since 2012 in Moyamba and Port-Loko. The project started in 2012 and is currently ongoing. The implementation may continue for a while as the project is being shared now with DFID and UNICEF for more funding support.

What problem is the project addressing and what solution does it propose?
The WASH Savings and Loan Scheme (WSLs) came as a result of the fact that several facilities became dysfunctional after they are being provided and communities often look back to service providers to come and replace them. This scheme came to foster community ownership and sustainability of facilities. This scheme also makes communities become more responsible by holding each other accountable and ensuring that each household contributes to the WASH Savings Box.

How was the solution implemented?
The WASH Savings Scheme is implemented and managed by the community. Each household contributes to a common savings box and the monies are drawn to provide community water and sanitation facilities when the need arises. The money is also used to repair broken down facilities and in some situations the fund has been able to provide for capital expenditure.

How does the community manage and operate the WASH Savings fund?
The communities have set up Committee Savings Committee who manages the fund. The key members of the committee include a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer/box keeper and Key Keepers. They come together and normally open the Box together and draw the money for communal use mainly on WASH issues

Who are the key stakeholders or partners involved in this intervention and what are their roles?
This project is being implemented by Plan Sierra Leone through two of the VSLs partners (CEFORD in Portloko and CEDA in Moyamba districts) and the key stakeholders are the community leaders, community members and the WASH Savings Committee who manage the funds for communal use.

What learning has emerged from the project? And how do you ensure learning across the project?
The projects have developed a draft handbook which is being currently reviewed. This will be adopted as a guide for the scheme. Plan Sierra Leone also participated in Joint Technical Committee meeting in Benin and presented progress made on the WASH Savings Scheme and the submitted document is still under review to make it suitable as guiding document for the adoption of the approach by other countries in the West Africa sub region.

What is innovative and significant about the project?

  • The initiative promotes self reliance because the communities no more look up to Plan/other WASH NGOs to support them for the operation and maintenance of their own WASH facilities,
  • This is significant because sustainability comes through collective responsibility by all the people you are working with/project participants,
  • Self resource mobilization is key to sustainability,
  • Village Savings Schemes like the WASH Savings Scheme are good for promoting social cohesion, unity, community ownership and collective responsibility.

What learning materials or products have been produced?
So far a Hand Book on the Scheme has been produced and currently being review for sector sharing.

Is there any further work necessary to solve the problem? What are the remaining gaps?

  • Getting more funding from donors to continue to support communities with innovative ideas,
  • Communities capacity needs to be built on financial management, operations and maintenance,
  • Facilitate linkages with banks for safe keeping of the money when savings exceed the capacity of the box and for security.

Project Contact
Name:  Mr. Joseph Konneh
Organization:  Plan Sierra-Leone
Position:  Household Economic Security and Partnership Advisor
Telephone:  +232 76 422 011