Pit Latrines

  • Health
  • Community Growth
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Panama
This project is led by Jenna O'Brien, a Volunteer from Virginia

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Two small Ngäbe communities with a cumulative population of about 350 people are in need of new pit latrines. Currently, there are many families without latrines in each of the communities and the latrines that exist are almost full or damaged. The communities have elected latrine committees to manage the construction of 31 pit latrines during the dry season of 2020. The committees have begun fundraising, have led meetings about the project organization, and have compiled detailed lists of beneficiaries. The communities have received trainings on latrine design, construction, and maintenance. The advantages and disadvantages of various waste management solutions were discussed along with the health benefits compared to open defecation. The latrine committees are also going to continue educating community members on proper latrine maintenance and encourage handwashing after latrine use. The community members will be responsible for carrying up part of the sand and stone they need for their latrine slabs. Each beneficiary will be responsible for digging their 1m X 1m latrine hole. The community members will realize all the construction. Besides health/environmental benefits, this project will help unify the community members to work towards a common goal. The community members will have the opportunity to learn and facilitate latrine construction. The latrine committees specifically will have the opportunity to grow as leaders in the community and improve their competencies in project management.

To participate in the latrine projects, the beneficiaries are required to financially contribute a set amount for each latrine. Each family knows that they will be responsible for actively participating in educational discussions and in any fundraising activities that the committees plan. Families recognize that they will be responsible for the construction of their latrine floor and shelter, but that the latrine committees will support in any way they can. Each family will oversee feeding the workers the day the floor is thrown. The latrine committees will be responsible for following up with beneficiaries on proper latrine maintenance. After the initial material support has ended the latrine committees will no longer be in charge of latrine construction in the communities, but they will be able to serve as resources in latrine construction and project management. The latrine committee members will be expected to follow up with the beneficiaries to ensure proper latrine maintenance and they will continue encouraging hand washing after latrine use in the communities.

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