Sanitation = health = education
Families in the Bunkonde health zone in Kasaï-Central province eliminate open defecation with support from the World Bank.
A few years ago, diarrhoea was a common symptom in the Bukonde health zone in Kasai-Central, and school benches were often empty because of it. "My son often had diarrhoea, fever and lost weight," explains the father of Emmanuel, a 10-year-old schoolboy who used to regularly miss school.
Emmanuel used to defecate in the open – in fields, bushes, or bodies of water – as do more than 4 out of 10 families in Kasaï-Central province. UNICEF supported an awareness-raising campaign in the 136 villages of the Bunkonde health zone in the framework of a joint resilience programme with FAO and PAM, where UNICEF work with stronger convergence with the other agencies to counter food insecurity and prevent malnutrition.
The villagers got together to examine the problem and identify appropriate local solutions. Driven by the desire for collective change, the residents collectively decided that each family should have a hygienic toilet, a hand-washing facility, a space reserved for garbage and clean their plot every day.
While Emmanuel's father made the required changes in the family plot, the young boy has been charged with day-to-day cleaning. "I make sure our plot is clean and I always wash my hands," confides Emmanuel, who is in better health today and no longer misses a day of school.
At 17, Henriette Henriette also changed her habits after being trained at school. "When people relieve themselves in the open, flies land on their excrement and can carry microbes onto the food," Henriette explains as she washes her hands.
Popolona Luembe is the chief of one of the 136 villages in the Bukonde health zone. He has set up a hygiene unit in his village to ensure that every family has the required facilities. "When we find a plot without sanitary facilities, a fine is imposed on them," Popolona declares.