The Government of Tanzania aims to improve the health status of the people by controlling water and sanitation related diseases. A number of campaigns have been implemented to induce behavioural change at the household level since 1973. The Mtu ni Afya campaign that was implemented between 1973 and 1978 instigated remarkable improvements including increasing the coverage of basic sanitation from 20% to 80%.
After the Mtu ni Afya campaign, the country witnessed the implementation of the National Sanitation Campaign, Phase 1 (2012 – 2016) and Phase 2 (2016 – 2021) with the aim of transforming communities to construct and use improved toilets rather than the traditional toilets that were built during the Mtu ni Afya Campaign. However, a survey by NBS in 2016 revealed that between 55 and 65%, we’re still using unimproved facilities, while 8 to 12% had no facility at all.
Currently, between 55 and 65% of households still use unimproved facilities, while 8 to 12% have no facility at all. Furthermore, the actual practice of hand washing with soap at critical times is low; between 15 and 30%.
In efforts to improve access to improved sanitation and ideal hygiene behaviour, the Government through the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) is implementing the National Sanitation Campaign. The campaign calls for households to construct and use improved latrines as well as practice handwashing with soap at critical moments. Remarkable achievements have been observed in some communities that have efficiently and effectively implemented the campaign.
A 2016 national survey indicated that 81% of households had a dedicated place for hand washing, yet other research indicates that the actual practice of handwashing with soap at critical times is low; at between 15 and 30%. The situation has made diseases related to poor sanitation and hygiene a persistent burden leading to economic loss to households and increased Government expenditure for diagnosis and treatment.
Both the Mtu ni Afya and the National Sanitation Campaign have been successful in raising community and household awareness and changing behaviours on sanitation and hygiene. While the Mtu ni Afya Campaign focused on promoting the construction and use of any form of latrines, the National Sanitation Campaign focused on improved toilets. Phase 2 of the NSC intends to encourage the uptake of good quality toilets and handwashing with soap nationally through a focus on institutional and community behaviour change.