A Multi-Village Latrine Project Helps the Salemata Region get a Clean Bill of Health

By Alia Kroos
Sept. 21, 2015
latrine project
Digging the latrine pits. Photo by Peace Corps Volunteer Alia

There are six villages in the Salemata region of Kedougou that are now equipped with sanitary latrines thanks to the hard work of the communities, their Peace Corps Volunteer, Alia, and a grant from Water Charity. These 21 latrines address a serious need in the villages, where open defecation was commonplace and diarrheal diseases endemic.  For the majority of the villages, each neighborhood is now equipped with a latrine or there is a centrally located communal latrine.  Each latrine was dug to a minimum depth of 2m, but two of the villages dug the latrines far deeper to ensure they would service the village for many years. All of the villages built structures around the latrines for privacy and cleanliness.  After construction was completed, health workers, local NGOs, and Alia trained each community on the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

latrine project
The bamboo privacy fence around a new latrine. Photo by Peace Corps Volunteer Alia

As with all Peace Corps work, this project's success depends on the buy-in of the community–only with the community's involvement can there be a sense of ownership and a hope of sustainability.  The conditions of the grant required a 10% community contribution, as well as in-kind contributions like transporting materials and providing labor for construction.  What is truly encouraging, however, is the community's willingness to go above and beyond the basic requirements.  Recognizing the importance of the project, the villages have overcome political differences to ensure the latrines are a communal, not individual, resource. Each community has also learned how to repair the latrines in the future.

latrine project
Nearly completed latrines. Photo by Peace Corps Volunteer Alia

Now that construction is complete, the community is overjoyed! They are proud of their work and grateful for Water Charity's generous donation, and they are excited to see improved health results in the near future.  The project has awakened interest in the surrounding villages, so this may not be the end of work for the region, but there is no doubt that what has already been done has guaranteed improved hygiene and sanitation in these rural communities.