Low cost solutions promote good wash practices in northwest Nigeria

Recycled bottles and easy-to-use hand drill which provide a fast and affordable hygiene and sanitation solutions

Samuel Kaalu
UNICEF Nigeria/2017/Kaalu

23 March 2018

Dukwana, Birnin Kudu, Jigawa State, northwest Nigeria, 23 March 2018 – It is hard to imagine what a difference a simple, affordable invention and some recycled bottles can make to the life and wellbeing of one family.

Rilwanu Suleiman remembers how heavy rains often led to the sudden collapse of their pit latrine, leaving a big and expensive problem that needed to be solved quickly.

Open defecation was also common in Dukwana which led to frequent bouts of cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea and other illnesses which claimed many victims, until the community was educated about the dangers this posed to their health following the introduction of the SHAWN (Sanitation Hygiene and Water in Nigeria) project, funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

One of the project’s key developments has been the introduction of the auger – an easy-to-use hand drill consisting of extendable steel rods, rotated by a handle – which provides a fast and affordable solution to dig narrower, deeper pit latrines which can more easily survive Dukwana’s alluvial soils.

UNICEF Nigeria/2017/Kaalu
Drilling pit latrines in Dukwana community using the auger.

“I was excited when I learnt it takes only 15 minutes to dig a latrine with the auger; and that it costs me only 300 hundred Naira (80 cents),” 29 year-old Rilwanu explained. “I quickly had two pit latrines drilled for me.”

“I’ll use one latrine now and move to the second when the first one is filled up,” he added.

However, sanitation only partially meets the needs of good personal hygiene habits, and the community has also been shown how to make their own ‘tippy taps’ at home – a low-cost, hand washing solution using recycled bottles – and educated about the importance of using soap, or ash as a last resort.

To ensure Dukwana’s 151 households maintain high WASH standards, the SHAWN project also funded the training by UNICEF of Volunteer Hygiene Promoters who have the task of going house to house to warn against the dangers of open defecation and the importance of good personal and household hygiene.

UNICEF Nigeria/2017/Kaalu
After Rilwanu’s old latrine had collapsed, he was excited when he learnt that it costs only 300 hundred Naira to make a pit latrine with the auger. The introduction of the auger has made latrine ownership and usage in Dukwana community affordable and widespread.

The ease and the affordability of the auger has prompted Birnin Kudu authorities to commit to drilling new latrines in many of its public spaces, including schools, clinics and markets, explained Idris Ahmed, the WASH coordinator. Drilling latrines in this way has now provided employment to 20 of the community’s youths. Elsewhere in Jigawa State, UNICEF is implementing SHAWN in 18 out of 27 local government areas, benefiting thousands of families.

“We are happy that the Dukwana community members have embraced the low-cost innovation in making their pit latrines and we are happier that families are putting these latrines to use and avoiding open defecation,” Mr Ahmed said. “That means that children who are usually most affected by diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene are also benefiting from a reprieve.”

In 2017, 233,250 people were reached with clean water and more than 528,300 people are now living in 915 communities where open defecation is no longer practised.