22 March – World Water Day 2014: Fewer cases of diarrhea for this family with three generations all with latrines in Mbacké, Senegal

Date: 15th April 2014

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Credit: WSSCC/Katherine Anderson

Credit: WSSCC/Katherine Anderson

Diabou and her 10-year-old child used to have diarrhea, but after a triggering session, when the health team explained to everyone in the village about the campaign to end open-defecation, she spoke to her husband about getting a toilet of their own. They dug a pit and lined it with tires; Diabou cleans it daily and shows it off with pride. Her mother-in-law has a basic privy outside her home on the edge of the village. Still, it is covered and therefore fly-proof so it is better than going in the bush as she used to. A year ago, there were only four toilets in the whole village, now almost every house has a latrine, after 64 of them were built following a sensitization exercise, supported by the Global Sanitation Fund.

Initially villagers thought installing latrines and hand washing stations would be too expensive, but they were looking at the ‘top of the line’ improved latrines. Diabou’s brother the village Imam has an improved latrine with walls and a ceiling. An improved latrine costs around $ 100. It is a source of real pride. Diabou and her husband have a basic latrine with a cement cover but no roof. All the family’s latrines have hand-washing stations.

Credit: WSSCC/Katherine Anderson

Credit: WSSCC/Katherine Anderson

The cost of villagers installing their own basic latrine is on average CFA 1,000 ($ 20). The latrine lasts two to five years, so is a good investment. Diabou’s been sensitized on the cost of not installing latrines. If a child gets sick from a disease related to poor sanitation, they don’t go to school, the mother doesn’t go to work in the field to look after the child, and they all go to hospital which is an expense in itself.

A year earlier a community liaison health worker came to the village through the GSF programme to explain to villagers why construction of latrines and hand washing are important. Emphasis is placed on giving responsibility to the village – they ask for the intervention through a demand-based approach. Community participation is both in terms of personal involvement (digging their latrines) and financial involvement (financing their latrines). The long term use of the latrines and the hand washing station is assessed by the programme organizers.

In Senegal ‘Terranga’ (hospitality) is important and not having a toilet for a guest to use is seen as shameful. The behavior change communications (BCC) strategy financed by the GSF motivates behavior change through public service announcements on TV and on the radio ahead of the village visits and follow ups by community workers.

The first village visit is known as a triggering and villagers describe their health, admit to openly defecating in the bush, and are sensitized on the importance of keeping human feces well away from food and flies. The importance of hand washing is underlined as being very effective in preventing the spread of diseases from coming into contact with feces.

When this village was triggered in January 2012 there were four latrines dating back to when the village was founded in 1937. Now almost every house has at least a basic latrine. People from other villages come to use the latrines.

Masons are trained on how to construct latrines. In Mbacké the sandy soil presents a challenge and to avoid latrines from collapsing, pits are filled with a stack of old car tires. Solidarity is strong. Masons charge to do work outside the village but there is no charge for fellow villagers.

The GSF programme also targets schools. In Senegal there is 98% access to primary education and when sensitized, children carry the message to their parents.

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