The satisfaction of having your own toilet: Assana’s story


Assana Bapelim, who lives in the village of Kadjalla in the Kara region of Togo, is proud of the latrine she built with help from her neighbours.

Assana built her toilet after being ‘triggered’ by community workers working in the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)-supported programme in Togo. She has expressed her gratitude towards the advantages and immediate effects observed after a few months of using the latrine, which include increased privacy and security, and improved health and hygiene for her family. She reflects on her journey below:

“My name is Assana Bapelim and I was born in the 1940s in Kadjalla, a village in the Doufelgou prefecture. I am a widow and I live with my grandchildren.

Since I was born, my family and I have always relieved ourselves in the open air. This means we expose ourselves to all kinds of risk. It’s even more frightening when you have to go in the bushes around the house at night to defecate. The smell around the house is terrible, because everyone relieves themselves around the house. What’s even more embarrassing and shameful is the lack of privacy when you’re defecating and people walk by. On top of that, the children and the rest of us regularly suffer from diarrhoea. And our animals sometimes get diseases associated with eating faeces.

The NGO BØRNEfonden came to work with us in October 2014 and made us aware that we were eating our own faeces. I understood it was time for my family and I to stop defecating in the open and how proud we would be to use our own latrine.

So I decided to dig a squat hole with my grandson and I covered it with a slab of earth. I then reached out to people in the neighbourhood who helped me make bricks and build a shelter for the squat hole.

The latrine was completed in January and since then I’ve been delighted to use it. I have placed some ash next to the hole, which I sprinkle in after I’ve used it, and water is permanently available for handwashing.

I would never have imagined that using a latrine would make such a difference and I regret all the years when I used to go in the open air.”

The GSF-supported programme in Togo supports the country’s national campaign to become open defecation free (ODF) by 2018, known as ‘Togo SANDAL’. The aim of the programme is to increase the use of latrines and encourage the adoption of good hygiene practices for rural populations in the Savanes and Kara regions, and in five districts in the Plateaux region. In particular, the programme aims to help 1.5 million people create the conditions to live in open defecation free communities, 1.2 million people access improved toilets, and 911,000 access and use handwashing facilities. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the Executing Agency for the programme, working closely with the Government, Sub-grantees implementing the programme on the ground, and diverse actors across the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.