No more open defecation as village embraces Community Led Total Sanitation in South Sudan
Adiem, 16 August 2012 - South Sudan may be the youngest nation on earth but great things are happening in it. In the small village of Adiem in Gogrial County, Warrap State, 68 households have broken off from the practice of open defecation by digging pit latrines and constructing some sort of a super structure over it using locally available materials. In other words, Adiem becomes the first village in South Sudan to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in South Sudan.
This follows the introduction of a new approach to combat South Sudan’s poor sanitation situation. The current approach that is being championed by the Government of South Sudan, UNICEF and WASH partners is known as Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). It is an innovative methodology for mobilizing communities to progressively work towards stopping open defecation.
“I learnt about the negative effects of open defecation, and I did not want to be the one contributing to the pollution of the environment and exposing other people to risks. This made me to think of constructing my latrine. My son accepted to help me dig the pit, and I did the superstructure”, said Aluel Poot Nyang, who is a widow and was among the first people to dig her pit.
It is a result of CLTS that Adiem village was facilitated by UNICEF working together with its partners to become ODF.
“I am very happy to have a latrine. I find it very convenient using my latrine instead of going to the bush. This gives me privacy to do my business,” said Adeng Juol Thol.
Earlier sanitation interventions and programmes prescribed high standards of latrine models that were out of reach to the ordinary person in the village. They also offered latrine subsidies as an incentive to elicit latrine construction. This however, did not meet the intended objective. Available evidence shows that most of these latrine subsidies became objects of vandalism or misuse. It further crated a culture of dependency, and long term sustainability of these programmes became untenable. Open defecation practice therefore continued unabated with spiral spread of fecal-oral diseases.
In contrast, CLTS places emphasis on behaviour change as a more sustainable way to sanitation improvement. It triggers a realization in the community on the harmful consequences of open defecation and a desire to take immediate action. This leads them to take concrete steps to construct self-made latrines, without any external assistance. The initiatives by the communities have resulted in greater ownership and sustainability of latrine use practice.
Agency for Cooperation and Technical Development ACTED initiated CLTS in the village around March 2012, and within three months they had stopped the practice of open defecation.
The community started constructing their latrines soon after the CLTS trigger in the village which was conducted by ACTED staff.
“We made frequent follow up visits to the village immediately after the trigger. At first we visited twice a week, as the momentum started to pick up we reduced the visits to once in a week. When more progress was made and we were satisfied that the village was now much able to move on their own, we reduced our visits to once in a fortnight. At the same time we maintained close links with the sanitation committee. They provided us with regular updates on the progress made from time to time. It was clear to us that the community was interested in stopping open defecation.” Said Bona Makuch, Base Manager with ACTED
On 11th August 2012, a team comprising staff from ACTED, UNICEF, Ministry of Cooperative and Rural Development, including Hon. Joseph Malek the State Minister of Cooperative and Rural Development, visited the village to conduct ODF verification.
The community is very proud of their achievements. As the verification team went round, they were touched by the enthusiasm of the village members. Everyone wanted to show off their latrine. “Come and see my latrine” was a common chorus from them. It was not just about the latrines, but it was also a demonstration that they no longer defecated in the open, and were looking forward to a better future.
Based on the observations made during the visit, they declared the village to be Open Defecation Free.
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