Kpugli Chief Yakubu Andani Iddrisu inspires his community to build their own toilets
UNICEF has created a series of personal profiles of the men and women in Ghana who work for children’s survival. Here, Chief Yakubu Andani Iddrisu tells his story.
By Madeleine Logan
GHANA, KPUGLI, 09 May 2013 - Chief of Kpugli, Yakubu Andani Iddrisu, led his community to build their own toilets last year. Every family in Kpugli used local pick axes to dig pits for latrines, straw mats for the walls and ash for handwashing. The chief started a fine for people caught defecating outside, and his community now holds clean up days every Friday. The children in Kpugli are now safe from diarrhoea.
”The whole place was filthy when we were shitting outside. Our fowls were dying. Our children were always sick with diarrhoea. We had snakes and mosquitoes everywhere. We defecated “free range” – anywhere and everywhere. Abdullai Abubakari is an Environmental Health Officer with the government. He came to visit us and talked to us about the problems with shitting outside. We drew a map of our village with a stick in the dirt. We marked where we defecated. After seeing this, we decided to put a stop to it. Before Mr Abukari’s visit, we didn’t see anything wrong with it.
”I created a fine. If you are caught freeing yourself in the bush, you had to pay 10 cedis. Only one person was caught and fined. Everybody was determined. We started digging our own toilets the day after Mr Abubakari visited us. We dug our pit latrines with the same pick axes we use to farm yams. It took us one week to dig the holes. Each compound now has three toilets – one for women, one for men and one for the children. We used straw mats for the walls and ash and local soap to wash our hands.
”I make sure I visit every house every morning to make sure all the school-going aged children are at school. I was a teacher for donkey’s years and believe strongly in education. The children hardly get sick now that they have toilets and wash their hands. There is almost 100 per cent attendance at school. Parents can also keep some money in their pocket because they don’t have to take their sick children to the hospital in Yendi, six kilometres away.
”I am the chief of 30 communities. We are encouraging all of them to start Community Led Total Sanitation. They are starting to build their own toilets.
“If somebody in my community doesn’t sleep I also can’t sleep. I am happy now that my community is happy".