72 VIP Toilets Completed in Vanua Lava

By Peace Corps Vanuatu
Oct. 16, 2019

The community of Vitimboso, Vanua Lava, Torba has 142 households with a population of 678 with is the largest village in Torba.

ADRA, an NGO in Vanuatu, along with Peace Corps Volunteer Eric conducted a community survey in Vitimboso.

During the survey that was conducted, every toilet in the community was evaluating based on the set criteria by ADRA criteria giving them a quality rating. ADRA found that of the 105 total toilets in the community, 10 toilets are adequate, and 10 toilets need repairs varying from a repair of the slab, structure, or pipe. The survey also showed that 85 total 105 toilets in the community need to be completely replaced. Of these 85 toilets that need a full replacement a majority of these toilets are bush toilets. The remainder are VIP toilets that are weathered, damaged, and unsatisfactory. The local clinic has 2 toilets, the local school has 8 toilets, and the remaining 95 toilets are shared among the 142 households in the community.

Foundation slab for VIP toilet
Laying the foundation slab for the VIP toilet

Vitimboso’s Peace Corps Volunteer Eric organized meetings with the new primary health care committee, the nurse, and the chief to put a plan to built new toilets in the community in Early December. The community decided to move through with an application for the USAID’s small grants fund and were approved. The goal for the community is for every household and community space (Aid Post, nakamal, church, community event area) to have their own VIP (ventilation improved pit) toilet, constructed properly so that the toilet works functionally.

Completed VIP Toilet from outsite
Brand new VIP toilet from outside

The grant rewarded wasn’t large enough to complete new toilets for the 142 households and the community spaces so the community went forth with building just 72 VIP toilets for 72 selected households in the community of Vitimboso. The leaders of the community grouped the community into 5 groups with each group leader looking after approximately 15 households. With the help of Peace Corps Volunteer Eric and the communities carpenter each group leader was trained how to make a toilet using the VIP toilet manual written in Bislama that was made by Eric. Each group leader got his own version of the toilet manual book and was awarded had 3 shovels, a tape measure, a wire cutter, a trowel, a hammer, a handsaw, and a wheelbarrow to delegate to his group for them to work with.

Community building seat risers for the toilets
Community members building toilet seat risers

Starting in early March the first phase was to dig all of the 72 holes for the toilets. The group leaders worked with the the families for the households to form groups to dig the holes. Forms where made with timber to mark the sizes of the holes so that there were no mistakes in the sizing of the hole from user mistakes with a tape measure. After the holes were finished and dug, the community made 5 sets of forms for the foundation and the slab. Each set of forms went to the group leaders.

The coral and sand had to be hauled in rice bags a 25 minute walk from the beach, up the hill, to the community for all of the concrete work. By the end of May the 72 foundations and slabs were finished for all of the community toilets two weeks ahead of schedule. At the beginning of April the carpenter in the community made 6 molds for the toilet seat risers. During the the first few weeks of June the five groups cooked all 72 of the risers for each household and they were distributed to their respective places.

Ribbon cutting during official opening ceremony.
Ribbon cutting during the opening of the 72 VIP toilets.

When the slab, foundations, and risers were in place the second phase was building the housing structures for the toilets. Pipe, fly screen, hinges, locks, nails and toilet seat covers were distributed to all of the group leaders to pass out to the households in their group. The five groups then passed around to the households within their groups and completed the construction of the 72 structures for the toilets. The housing structures were all complete before Independence Day on July 30th here in Vanuatu. Some structures were built with local materials such as bamboo and natanggura leaf whereas some were constructed using timber and iron roof.