Ripple effects of Community- Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Warji Local Government Area
Although they were not under verification, community members from Sosaiya and Gidan Sarikin Sainu communities came to watch. They were not part of the 15 communities under verification to confirm their self-acclaimed Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in Dabu ward of Warji Local Government Area (LGA) in Bauchi state, northeast Nigeria. But they were interested. They wanted to know why “distinguished” looking visitors thronged their neighbouring communities but avoided theirs.
What they were told prompted immediate action from the community members as latrine digging in households and general cleaning of the entire community commenced. Few days later the community requested for inspection of their community. These two communities now have latrines and as a result nearly 16,400 inhabitants from the above 17 communities no longer defecate in the open.
Also during the review meeting held with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM) Chairmen and representative of the village heads of the 17 ODF communities; some Community members from Gidan Kwambo community belonging to neighbouring Baima Ward came to ask that their own community be included even though they were not part of Dabu Ward.
At the end of the review meeting, a youth leader from one of the CLTS-aspiring communities, Mallam Idris Abubakar, made a commitment, “we promise that henceforth our entire community would take the responsibility of ensuring that we build latrine and our community is clean at all times so that people and even outsiders can come to visit us, sit down with us and discuss with us.”
It is not just external recognition and clean environment that has caused the knock-on effect of CLTS in several wards of Warji Local Government Area of Bauchi state in northeast Nigeria, the women of Dabu ward are beginning to link the annual cholera outbreak they had experienced over years to their unsafe hygiene behavior and rampant open defecation.
A widow, Hajia Maraim Umar the Hygiene Promoter from Ungwa Dawaye summed this up thus, “Last year, we lost 3 people to Cholera but this year there has not been any outbreak. Our people no longer smell bad and our children are clean, happy and healthy, we don’t see shit around our houses or in the bushes and farms. I am happy to teach other women how to keep their homes clean and stop their children from falling sick and they listen to me”
The ripple effect brought about by the successful ODF communities is increasingly stretching the Warji WASH unit’s capacity to provide support to the many aspiring communities. It started with 15,362 people in 15 communities and has expanded to include an additional 3,500 inhabitants. Nearly 76,000 people will benefit once Dabu and Baima wards are certified ODF wards. The Warji WASH Unit plans to create a federation of natural leaders from among the various successful communities to tap-in their skills for the new ones.
Warji LGA is one of the 12 LGAs where UNICEF is implementing the UK Aid supported Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria or SHAWN project expected to serve nearly two million people in four states with sustainable access to sanitation, water and hygiene over a five-year period covering 2010-2014.