|© UNICEF Afghanistan/2008/Khadivi|
|Women in the UNICEF-supported ‘clean village’ of Khowja Surmaq are making latrines and learning income-generating skills.|
HERAT, Afghanistan, 7 January 2009 – Khowja Surmaq is much like any other village in Afghanistan – with muddy roads, little patches of vegetation and vast sandy terrains. However, it is unique in the fact that it is a UNICEF-supported ‘clean village’, which is equipped with safe water and sanitary latrines.
This village in Herat also has the first and only women’s sanitary latrine production centre in Afghanistan, supported by UNICEF in partnership with local non-governmental organization Voice of Women (VoW). Seven female masons along with one male mason have been trained.
The use of latrines is still a new idea to many people in Khowaja Surmaq village. In response, VoW’s community mobilizers are engaged in promoting proper hygiene and use of latrines among the villagers.
Since October of last year, the female masons have produced over 60 latrine slabs under the guidance of the master trainer. The women will eventually get involved in marketing. Along with the latrines, they are also producing concrete and cement blocks to diversify income generation.
The first snow fall has hit Herat and the entire village is shrouded in cold mist. The weather has not dampened the spirit of the women, however. They are ready with their tools to work.
Thirty four latrines have already been installed in Khowaja Surmaq.