Madagascar leads the way to become open defecation free

Date: 31st July 2014

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This week, Madagascar’s committed to leading the way to become Africa’s first open defecation free country.

In meetings with WSSCC executive director Chris Williams and the local leaders of the movement to end open defecation, President Heri Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Roger Kolo, and Minister of Water Johanita Ndahimananjara pledged to build on the results achieved by WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund-supported programmes in rural areas across the country.


On July 17, the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers signed a pledge vowing to end open defecation in Madagascar (see photo), stating: “By all means possible, we are ready to contribute to the noble national movement for human dignity and well-being that will come by making Madagascar a country free of open defecation by 2018.”

In just over three years, over 9,000 Malagasy villages have become open defecation free with GSF support, at a cost of less than $4 million – an extraordinarily cost-effective investment in health, economic development and human dignity. The key to this success is a fast, simple, and inexpensive approach called Community-Led Total Sanitation, which encourages people to understand that open defecation leads to transmission of fecal matter and disease by flies to humans.

Once so “triggered”, most villages take quick action to build new fly-proof latrines and improve unsanitary latrines using local materials – often within just days or weeks. The approach explicitly shuns top-down subsidies and expensive latrines built by outsiders – which often fail.

The high-level pledge was the result of a first-ever “institutional triggering” led by WSSCC’s local partners to engage government leaders in the fight against open defecation. By following the same process of realisation — about the link between open defecation, flies and the intestinal illness experienced by many — and demonstrating the extraordinary results achieved to date, national leaders took immediate action, and the Prime Minister, the Presidential representative, and the Ministers of Water and Energy signed the pledge.

“Madagascar’s success to date offers proof that this behaviour change approach is faster, more effective, and less costly than traditional forms of aid. By committing to spread this approach to all of Madagascar’s villages, the country can become a model for Africa, and for the world,” said Mr. Williams.

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