From open defecation to Community Transformation
In the Androy region in southern Madagascar, prior to 2021, the practice of open defecation was widespread among the population. This region, characterized by its extremely dry climate, faced challenges in terms of hygiene and sanitation. Also in 2021, UNICEF, in partnership with the Regional Directorate of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, launched the Eco Village Project in the region with Community Lead Total Sanitation (CLTS) as an integral part of its approach.
CLTS is an integrated approach that aims to encourage the community to analyze its own hygiene and sanitation situation, as well as its practices related to defecation and their consequences. This approach thereby stimulates collective action towards achieving and sustaining on Open Defecation Free status.
In November 2021, a team of facilitators from the NGO SAHI, a partner of UNICEF in the Eco Village project, initiated a series of information and awareness raising activities in the area. The team sought to encourage the community to analyze its own hygiene and sanitation situation, raise awareness about open defecation and its consequences, and promote collective action to build latrines. Fideline, a mother of five children, was one of the facilitators. “It wasn’t easy because we were proposing a new way of life to the community. By making them more aware of the consequences of open defection, we could promote an end to the practice.”
Just two months after the start of the work, with the support of UNICEF, SAHI, and with financial assistance from the Netherlands National Committee for UNICEF, 55 latrines were constructed. The entire community committed to abandoning open defecation and constructing latrines for each household.
Fideline recalls, “Previously, when the heat became unbearable, the odors generated by human waste in the village were unbearable. But now, the change is real and visible. As soon as we arrive in the village, we can see that it is clean, and the areas previously used for open defecation are cleared. The involvement of local authorities and traditional leaders has been one of the key elements of this approach.”