Household Access to Sanitation
- Community Growth
- Water & Sanitation
Often, households and communities low in socioeconomic status face pressing public health concerns that contribute to rising rates of mortality. Within a rural village of Benin, open defecation dominates the sanitation landscape, and lack of access to sanitation resources increase infectious disease exposure. A sustainable approach to combat this community-addressed health issue calls for the investment in the capacity building of human resource development. The community-led total sanitation project uses a participatory approach to empower members in sustaining an open defecation-free community through a household combined community-level sanitation intervention, promotion of positive hygienic behavioral change, and project management knowledge/skills transfer. The initiative includes the construction of 10 sanitation facilities (ventilated-improved double pit latrines) and hand-washing stations among selected households to prioritize basic sanitation coverage where most needed. The construction acts on the existing health concern of human waste disposal for families restricted from resource access, as well as serving as a practice-integrated pilot to expand on the capacity of community leaders in meeting needs collectively. The district and local health authorities/clinics and village leaders are partnering with community health workers, construction groups, and schools to design and implement the plan of action for improved community health outcomes. Contributions from the community, comprising of in-kind and monetary donations, will cover a portion of the costs. Support from international partners is much appreciated to reach the community’s goal of reducing disease transmission, increasing use of proper hygienic practices, and eliminating open defecation. The partnership project aligns with the first goal of Peace Corps to meet needs of the community through local change agents. The sanitation project’s implementation is inherently dependent on community action. Empowerment, sustainability, and inclusive participation serve as the framework of this collective effort to foster long-term prosperity and health for all members of the community.
There are 6 stakeholders involved in the project: local health authorities, local community coordinators (LCC), Community Health Committee (CHC), Local Construction Group (LCG), Student Leadership Group (SLG), and other community members are beneficiaries for latrine construction. Each stakeholders/group is comprised exclusively with members from the local community. They are centralized in every stage and step of the process from design and planning to post-project evaluation. With advice and approval from the two clinics (district and local health authorities involvement), LCCs are responsible for conducting a needs assessment of the community, identifying supporting agencies/stakeholders, analyzing problems, planning for solutions through participatory analysis for community action (PACA), implementation, and monitoring and evaluating latrine construction. They also are vital in conducting training and workshop for community health workers. The CHC, comprised of local community health workers, spearhead health education and promotion mobilizations within the community, as well as assist LCCs in technical aid. They lead community led-total sanitation activities. Once beneficiaries are chosen for latrine construction, sanitation and hygiene knowledge and skills transfer are their responsibilities to monitor. Additionally, they work with families on establishment of latrine maintenance and operation systems that will be evaluated. LCGs are groups of local masonry businesses that offer services in construction of various structures. Construction groups from recommended by the district's health agent, will support the local construction groups in constructing the foundation and circular slab. The group work closely with LCCs in the budget formulation, establishing community contribution parameters, selection process of beneficiaries, monitoring construction processes, and safety evaluation of constructed latrines. SLG consist of students from the local CEG. With the supervision of work counterparts who are also professors, the SLG will construct hand-washing stations at each latrine and provide education on proper hygiene and sanitation behaviors and practices. They will be taught by the CHC. Community members, who are beneficiaries, are integral in the 30% community contribution funds for the project. They are expected to offer unskilled labor, in-kind, and monetary contributions for the latrine construction. They will receive health education from the CHC and SLG and be expected to sustain the maintenance needed for the extended operation of the latrines. All stakeholders involved in the project are community members who are leading every stage of the initiative themselves.
The latrines will have a system of maintenance and operation set by each household with the help of the CHC. In addition to given education on maintenance and operation, a physical maintenance and management system will be established that determines who is in charge of the latrine, who will administer the task of daily cleaning, who will secure it, and repair for any damaged facility or stolen parts. Once the latrines are filled after an estimated 8-10 years, community members have the option of transferring the slab from the previous latrine to the construction process of a newer one. The door and metal shilling of the roof can also be reused. Having knowledge of tools, materials, costs, and process of implementation, they have the ability to construct new ones for the community. Hand-washing stations can also be easily recycled, reused, or rebuilt from local materials found around the community.