Hygiene Promotion & Open Defecation Elimination via Community Led Sanitation
- Water & Sanitation
Community-led total sanitation will provide access to hygienic latrines and reliable source of potable water, beneficiaries of which, according to a village-wide census, include 1,300 men, women, and children. The residents will be mobilized to construct child-friendly latrines as a buy-in strategy to eliminate the health hazards of rampant open defecation due to lack of access to latrines and to repair 2 of the village’s water pumps to eliminate barriers to personal hygiene caused by water scarcity and paucity in the village; achieving optimal public health standards. This project increases the public health indices of the community by creating an open defecation-free village and adopting hand washing as a doable and realistic preventive health measure against transmissible diseases particularly oral-fecal contamination; all major factors that collectively ensure maternal and child health, targets the country’s sustainable development goal 6 of availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation, and reduces the economic burden of illness-related costs. This project reinforces people’s power to make a difference in their lives through their own initiatives, decision-making, and project planning and implementation primarily when it comes to their health; increasing civic participation and active citizenship and improving the development and organizational capacity of village leaders and its residents. Most importantly, it gives people pride and dignity to go whenever they want to. Lastly, it reduces the burden on women and children from long, weary travels to fetch water under unfavorable conditions, usually along a stretch of stagnant water and instead assures the village residents safe water supply 365 days a year in the next 15 years.
The project is an initiative that is community-led and/or assisted across all critical stages - from needs assessment, community meetings and discussions, sourcing of materials, project planning, implementation, and monitoring. The Peace Corps volunteer will assist in writing the project and coordinating all the logistics on behalf of the beneficiaries, including many others but not limited to meeting with a government contractor tasked to install and repair water forages in the country.
The local community administration in collaboration with the village residents will contribute financially whenever necessary, organize, inform assigned parties and community members, and implement this project. Members of the community with specialized skills and training, especially those who comprise the water and the latrine committees, will offer work hours and expertise relevant to this project. Unskilled labor will also be assumed heavily by the community as part of community contribution.
The community members will elect members of the water and latrine committees, which will represent the interest of the residents. The members also partake in latrine construction site identification to maximize the number of household-to-latrine ratios, especially in areas where the demand for latrines is high and where children are at most at risk.
The community is the driving force behind this project because nobody wants to live in an area where open-defecation is rampant and can contaminate not just their external surroundings but also inside their homes. It is also agreed upon that living in unsanitary conditions puts people, especially those who are most vulnerable such as pregnant women and children, at risk to diseases that are preventable. The community also is enthusiastic about finding a long-term solution to prevent water paucity and scarcity in the village especially when water is a lifeline for many on a daily basis. Conserving water is one thing but limiting water used for hygiene is not worth the risks especially if the price to pay is at the expense of their personal well-being and health. Sanitation and access to water is a human right that the community is motivated to contribute and help realize.
This project ensures the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, which is goal 6 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. This project is under the oversight of the village administration and the village’s water committee by maintaining its premises and ensuring all personal and necessary work (security, repair, utilities, cleaning, scheduling, initiation, and monitoring of activities).
The village’s water committee proposes a financial policy of 1,000 GNF per household per month to cover future equipment repair and overall maintenance for proper and reliable functioning of the water pump. In the past couple of years, the water pump malfunctions every 2-3 months, which amounts to 680,000 GNF annual expenditure for repairs. While this amount seems nominal, it takes anywhere between 3-6 months before the village is able to finance the repairs and when they do, they are only able to purchase used parts. Therefore repairing the water pump and changing it from being foot-pedaled to hand-pumped will guarantee the residents up to 15 years, as recommended by the Regional Director of SNAPE. The third pump in the village, which is a hand pump installed by SNAPE remains well-functioning; requiring no repairs since it was first installed in the early 2000s. The village will look forward to saving over 10,000,000 GNF of repair costs for a foot-pedaled pump within 15 years. Instead, they will be able to save over 43,000,000 GNF over 15 years of protected time for any repair, or better yet use it to install a much needed 4th pump in the village.
The water pump is specially designed exclusively for obtaining potable water for daily usage but most specially to optimize hygiene and sanitation standards in the village. The latrines are specially constructed exclusively for defecation, which will be stated explicitly to the beneficiaries in order to prevent it from becoming trash repositories. The residents will also receive instruction on how to properly maintain the latrines, which will include the construction of thatch roof and pit latrine covers. Therefore, there is no foreseeable risk that the final project will change course as the need for latrines and the repair of the water pumps are of the highest priority that takes into account the populations' health and well-being. The collaborators are interested in the durability and sustainability of this project because it assures clean water source, raises indices of public health through improved infrastructures, prepares and involves members of the community to participate in solving issues in the village, and will serve as a motivation to attracting other projects that are community-led because of its credibility.