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Somalia, 13 December 2017: A village escapes cholera outbreak after building their own toilets

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Abdullahi Ali Omar
Villagers of Luqgodey in Luuq have managed to keep themselves and their children safe from a massive cholera outbreak in 2017, during which more than 78,000 cases were reported.

By Ibrahim Ali Mahat, UNICEF Somalia WASH officer

LUUQ, Gedo, Somalia, 13 December 2017 – Two years ago, three of Saniin Adan Omar’s children fell sick with acute watery diarrhea from drinking contaminated water. One of them nearly died.

“My son Aliyow barely survived. He was hospitalized for a week,” says Saniin who lives in Luqgodey Village in southern Somalia. “I spent more than US$200 dollars for transport and treatment, and that was really a lot for us.”

However this year, when the drought and lack of clean water led to a massive AWD/cholera outbreak, in Somalia affecting more than 80,000 people, there was not a single case in the village. This transformation was thanks to a UNICEF-supported programme to put an end to open defecation in villages such as Luqgodey.

Under the approach, known as Community-Led Total Sanitation, UNICEF and partners provide awareness campaigns on how open defecation can contaminate the rivers where people get their drinking water, as well as providing technical assistance on building latrines. However no incentives are given.

Two years ago the village took part in such an exercise aimed at raising awareness on how open defecation leads to contaminated water sources and sickness. The project was conducted by Somali Humanitarian and Relief Agency (SHRA), a local implementing partner of UNICEF.

As a result Saniin and her neighbours, all built latrines, taught their families how to use them properly and wash their hands with ash afterwards and made sure food was prepared and handled hygienically.

“Before the triggering our village smelled bad with faeces lying in the open and no single latrine in use. Now, every household is doing their part in keeping our village clean. And once in a while we also do cleanliness campaigns,” says Saniin.

In May 2017, her village claimed open defecation free by Luuq district authority and shortly after by the Jubaland State Ministry of Health.

This meant they were officially recognized for demonstrating that everyone in the community have and uses a toilet and no longer goes into the fields, bushes, forests, water or open spaces to defecate.

In Somalia, more than half of the rural population still practices open defecation – one of the primary causes of diarrhoea. In 2012, UNICEF began to introduce Community-Led Total Sanitation in 202 villages throughout central and southern regions of Somalia. Today 34 villages have successfully eliminated open defecation and are certified as open defecation free. Another 45 villages are on their way to be verified for the same status.



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