Restoring dignity and good health through improved sanitation
Sato Pan toilet is providing people living with disability with dignity and improved sanitation in north-east Nigeria
Mohammed Aliyu Dikka ambles out of the newly installed Sato Pan toilet in his home in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, north-east Nigeria, a huge smile playing on his face. His relief is not just from the easy movement of his bowels or the spanking cleanliness of the toilet bowl. Among other benefits, the 29-year-old who walks with crutches is elated that he can access the toilet in his home unaided for the first time since he was involved in a fatal accident which claimed many lives.
Visiting the toilet after the accident had proved to be a degrading experience for Dikka. To use the toilet, he had to be supervised by relatives as he could not easily squat over the pit toilet available in his family home.
But now, a newly installed Sato Pan toilet provided free of charge by UNICEF, with support from the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Dutch Ministry of foreign Affairs has ended his nightmare and restored his dignity.
Using my legs became a huge challenge after the accident. Even till today, I cannot squat for too long. My aged parents cannot afford to pay for a water closet toilet as we are very poor. You can then imagine my father’s excitement when someone marketed Sato Pan toilets in our mosque. He quickly ordered for one since they were free. The only thing we needed to do was provide money to cover the materials for installation as well as cost of labor,’’ he says.
The Sato Pan, with its distinct blue colour has become a staple in many homes in Biu and Shani local government areas of Borno State. In December 2022, the two local government areas became the first to be certified open defecation-free in the state.
Possessing unique features and benefits, the Sato Pan is user friendly and mostly caters to the elderly and disabled persons, restoring their dignity and independence in the process. UNICEF, with support from the DGIS, has distributed over 10,000 Sato Pan units to households in several communities across the two local government areas to discourage open defecation and reduce the contamination of water sources that could lead to the outbreak of diseases and infant deaths.
Since its installation, I have not stopped being thankful for this beautiful, fly proof, insect proof, odour free toilet. I can sit comfortably on the toilet without any challenge and I also don’t need any help like I needed before with my crutches. It has also reduced the burden on my parents who take care of me,” says Dikka
Sato Pans possess unique advantages over conventional pit toilets as they keep flies away and do not give out bad odour. The intervention supports efforts of the Borno State Government to improve sanitation practices and make communities open defecation free.
Like Dikka, Mallam Idi Mohammed from a neighbouring community has high praises for the Sato Pan. Mohammed had first sighted the improved toilet in a friend’s house and was amazed that it did not attract flies and insects. That discovery led him to install a similar toilet in his house.
“I am happy I managed to install this improved toilet in my own house. I was admiring it from afar but now I have it in my house. My family and I now have access to good toilet. I love this toilet because it prevents odor, flies and insects,” he says.
Across Nigeria, about 48 million people practice open defecation and only 13 per cent of the population use improved sanitation facilities which can cause the spread of diseases and increase child mortality rates. UNICEF and the Government of Nigeria with support from donors are providing sanitation and hygiene facilities to support children and families.