“After learning about the negative impact that poor sanitation has on my family, I decided to build a traditional latrine in my homestead using old pieces of cloths and twigs. Now any member of the family can access the latrine at any time of the day, thanks to the knowledge I gained from Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) sessions in Elwak, Gedo region.” These are the words of Fatuma Sheikh Adan, a resident of Bula Garas village in Elwak district, Gedo region.
Access to latrines has been a major challenge to the residents of Gedo region. There are few toilets in few households who have the financial capacity to construct one. The rest of the households often practice open defecation, a health hazard resulting from water-borne related diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), which thrive in poor hygiene.
Fatuma agrees, “We incurred huge medical bills as a result of diseases associated with poor sanitation and poor hand washing habits. We also had poor food handling habits.” “We knew the right thing to do but had financial constraints. My husband is a sales man in a shop in town and earns about USD $100 per month. This is hardly enough for food and other basic needs for our ten children. A proper latrine was at the bottom of our priority list.”
Before the latrine was built, Fatuma’s children would use a nearby bush as the toilet. The girls would either use the neighbour’s toilet or wait until dark so that they could discretely use the bush.
In May 2016, five NAPAD and AAH-I staff were trained on CLTS. The staff later trained and triggered the community using the same approach. As a result, five villages in Elwak were selected and triggered – Madina, Hawlwadag, Bula Garas, Waberi 1 and Waberi 2. Fatuma was a beneficiary. As a result of this triggering process, 171 traditional latrines were constructed and installed with hand washing facilities by the community using their own innovation.
Fatuma embracing the use of soap and water after visiting the toilet
This AAH-I intervention is complementing Sustainable Development Goal 6 target to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations such as her.
Bula Garas is one of three locations that were recently declared open defecation free (ODF) in June 2017. A team of 23 delegates comprising 13 WASH cluster partners, 2 local authority representatives, a district health officer, 2 women group representatives, a religious leader, 3 community leaders and a youth representatives took part in the ODF certification exercise. The methodology of verification was based on strict adherence to CLTS protocol, using a random sampling technique to assess 51 households. The delegates confirmed that the 3 locations had reached ODF threshold and as a result, a ceremony was held in Elwak town to celebrate the success.
With emphasis is placed on community mobilization instead of individual households, the communities continue to show significant achievements in establishment of pit latrines, installation of hand washing facilities with water and soap and safe disposal of all waste material. This bottom-up approach is increasing the chances of villages sustaining ODF.
With support from Bread for the World, AAH-I has been implementing the ‘Integrated community rehabilitation programme’ in Elwak District, Gedo region. One of the goals of the project is to improve maternal and newborn health in the region by 2018.