Latrine Construction and Capacity Training

  • Health
  • Community Growth
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Panama
This project is led by Andrea Ramirez-Puentes, a Volunteer from Puerto Rico

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Most of the members of a local indigenous community are currently lacking basic sanitation services. This lack of basic necessities causes a sanitation problem that is looking to be addressed through this project by building latrines. This project aims to build the capacity of community groups and households to build, repair, and maintain locally appropriate sanitation systems and to empower and motivate individuals to adopt healthy water, sanitation, and hygiene practices and behaviors. Some of the activities will be educational talks on the importance of latrines, how to properly maintain them, hand washing and soap making. There will also be leadership training to community counterparts so they can function as facilitators of the project on how to properly build a latrine slab and seat. The community will provide the materials to make the latrine an enclosed space, all of the hours required to complete the construction work, and space and time for meetings. If the project becomes a reality, it will have a huge impact in the lives of the indigenous population. With improved access in sanitation, the natural resources surrounding the community will become safer to use, specifically water, making the vulnerable population less prone to get life threatening diseases and give the rest of the population a healthier lifestyle.

During the volunteer’s first few months in the community, at the participatory analysis community meeting, it was decided that the community wanted to work on building latrines. This decision was made based on the priorities that community members presented. Once the latrine project was decided, four community members volunteered to serve as counterparts/leaders for this project representing four zones in the community. Each zone leader alongside the volunteer already visited each one of the beneficiaries’ houses to help the families properly locate the hole for the latrine, making sure it has the right distance from the house and that it is not close or uphill from a water source, reminding the families the correct measurements before digging the hole and measuring the ones that are already done.

Through the capacity building, community members will develop skills and gain knowledge that will allow them to own and properly maintain a latrine. One of the agreements with the community is that they will provide the materials to properly enclose the latrine area and each beneficiary is responsible for the labor required to build the concrete slab, this looks to create a sense of ownership that will in turn, result on a better long-term maintenance of the latrine. Also, the concrete slab will have rebar handles so the slab can be moved and reused when the hole is full, giving it a longer useful lifetime and more sustainable use to the materials provided. As for the tools that will be provided through this project, they will be distributed among the existing water committees so they can benefit the community after the latrine project is done.

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