SurfAid and Walu join forces in Papua New Guinea

July 10, 2010 | Environment

Surf Aid: great job, now with Walu

SurfAid International granted the newly formed Walu International an experience that will help proliferate their impact in villages in Papua New Guinea.

SurfAid gave Walu an inside look on how Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is being properly implemented on the island of Nias, off North Sumatra, Indonesia, with the objective of helping expedite the impact that Walu will have as an organization.

CLTS empowers villagers to arrive at a sanitation solution on their own, after realizing their current practices are harmful to their health. Since the ideas are locally generated, people have a sense of ownership over the projects and can create their own solutions. In the case of CLTS the first step is to encourage community members to construct un-subsidized latrines, using local resources, thus increasing the likelihood of success.

Walu International spent a week tracking the components of successful SurfAid projects, both in the office and in the field. With the help of the SurfAid staff in Nias, Walu was able to participate in the CLTS process from beginning to end.

This first-hand involvement proved invaluable for Walu because they now have a vivid picture of what success looks like from the village perspective. Beginning with the end in mind is an important step in development and with the help of SurfAid staff, Walu is seeing the finish line much clearer.

Currently, one in six children who die in Papua New Guinea, die from sanitary-related issues - almost 90 per cent of which are preventable. Getting rid of these alarming statistics is what first drove the creation of Walu International. By studying the processes of SurfAid, Walu hopes to emulate some of SurfAid’s successes in a different location with different challenges.

This November, Walu International will be heading back to the villages of Papua New Guinea armed with the right resources to make a lasting impact.

Walu will be implementing its first round of CLTS with the help of SurfAid founder Dr Dave Jenkins. With only one shot to build trust within a community, Walu’s only option is to ensure that they do things correctly from the start. A hands-on mentorship from SurfAid will help this process along.

“This is an excellent opportunity for SurfAid,” Dr Jenkins said. “By collaborating with Walu we get the joint benefit of assisting another NGO (Non-Government Organization) and of seeing our programs implemented in other areas of the world.

“I am sure SurfAid will learn at least as much as Walu from this experience, and we look forward to developing a close working relationship,” Dr Jenkins said.

Walu International Founder and CEO, Zack Parker, said that when he first traveled to Papua New Guinea in 2007 he couldn’t walk down the beach because of the human feces. “It was dangerous,” Parker said. “With the guidance of other successful organizations, like SurfAid International, I feel at ease knowing that one day all of the children playing on the beach will not get sick from their sandbox.”

This is a sentiment that is familiar to SurfAid, and hopefully Walu will be able to implement a successful CLTS program which has been designed and delivered to meet the unique conditions in PNG.

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