In Madagascar, improving living conditions by supplying latrines


Ricko Rafamatanantsoa
31 May 2022

In the Androy region of southern Madagascar, Zafitea lives with her two children. A single mother living with a disability, she is determined to give her offspring a better life. One of the major decisions she made was to build her own latrine. Today, she says her living conditions have improved.  

"Our biggest benefits is health! I spend much less money than before on treating water-borne diseases, both for myself and my children," she says with pride. These are the first and most serious consequences of open defecation in this commune in southern Madagascar. The treatments offered in the basic health centers are often in response to drinking water infected with feces. Paradoxically, the region has the highest rate of children affected by severe acute malnutrition each year, a situation that is worsened by a lack of access to safe water.  

UNICEF, with the support of partners such as the NGO ASWA, are working on strategies to reverse the long-standing practices of open defecation and promote healthy behaviors. UNICEF's community outreach and sensitization approaches have convinced residents to build their own latrines. "The main turning point in my life was to realize that I drink dirty water, full of feces. Then, I decided to build a latrine and put a lid on it to prevent insects from growing and contaminating our food," says Zafitea.

The local community has been supportive. Zafitea’s neighbors and relatives joined hands to ensure that her latrine was built to the highest standards. This spirit of mutual aid and solidarity has made Zafitea one of the leaders in her village for the integration of this new norm. She makes her community aware of the benefits of this new practice and serves as an example as she also educates her two children in the principles of basic hygiene. Through her efforts, every household in the village now has a latrine.

Zafitea in front of her own latrines
UNICEF Madagascar/2022
Zafitea proud to show off her own latrine