Don’t Feed Freddy! The Story Behind Freddy the Fly


'Freddy the Fly' had 10,000 Facebook views in its first week! We explain how the video came to be made.

WSSCC has produced a simple and memorable animated video that illustrates a community’s journey to open defecation free (ODF) status –  where everyone consistently uses hygienic latrines and washes their hands with soap (or soap substitutes) after defecation. 'Freddy the Fly' is available to all partners as a resource for ODF training.

The idea for the video came about one afternoon when a pesky fly buzzed around the desk of the Global Sanitation Fund’s Patrick England.

“My colleague Clara Rudholm recalled a conversation when she and Oliver Jones (a former GSF staff) had thought of what ODF would be from the perspective of a fly. As flies like to eat shit, they thought that it would be pretty angry!  It was from there that I decided to write my magnus opus: Freddy the Grumpy Fly!”

Patrick wrote a short poem from the fly’s point of view, about how open defecation - which includes latrines that do not hygienically contain waste - inadvertently causes people to eat their own and their neighbours’ shit. It details how a community can use their own knowledge and resources to improve the situation.

“What’s represented here is the type of behaviour-change based, community-led interventions that GSF currently supports in 13 countries, what achieving ODF status looks like, and how communities achieve this,” he says.

Patrick insisted that the video be graphic to provoke feelings of disgust and shock in the audience.

“There’s no sense beating around the bush,” he says, “Nearly 1 in 3 people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, and nearly 1 in 7 people defecate in the open. We have a moral obligation to be as direct and graphic as possible to provoke immediate action; the same ethos of triggering shock, disgust, and touching on dignity that facilitators use in communities is applied here for a wider audience. After all, a lack of sanitation and hygiene is not just one of the world’s largest and costliest health crises, but also one of its largest human rights crises.”

Community-led behaviour change and solutions are also essential to ensure that there is no ‘slippage’ back to unhygienic behaviour.

“Several countries have made tremendous progress. Nepal, for example, has managed to improve access to improved sanitation in a relatively short period of time – from a mere 4% in 1990 to nearly 50% by 2015, according to data from the Joint Monitoring Programme. One of the key factors in Nepal, as in many other countries that have seen substantial progress in expanding coverage, has been the commitment and leadership of the government to prioritize sanitation.”

Patrick’s first draft of the poem actually had Freddy organizing a fly protest, and petitioning the President of a fictitious country ... however, the President, who’s already been ‘triggered’, flatly dismisses Freddy’s pleas to make a law encouraging open defecation.

Patrick grins.  “Perhaps there’s is room for a sequel?”

Please use and share the video as a training resource:

It is available in English on YouTube here, and in French here. Please download it from this Dropbox link.

Should you wish to add a narration track in your local language, please contact us for a version with only ambient sounds.

Download the poem in English, and in French.