Sanitation vouchers bring toilets to families in north-west Nigeria
USAID’s funding support is boosting toilet ownership and use in a north-west Nigeria rural community
At his home in Maradun north, Zamfara state,75-year-old Malam Jibo Gumawa shows you his new toilet which is a source of pride to him and his family. They will no longer defecate in the open.
Having a toilet may seem a normal thing to those with the means, but for poor families with little income, that’s a tall order.
Malam Jibo and so many others in his community belong in this category.
“I knew the benefits of having and using a toilet, but I couldn’t provide one for my family. I didn’t have the means to own one,” says Jibo.
Jibo and his family members had to meet their sanitation needs one way or the other, regardless, so they did the next pragmatic thing; they defecated in the open!
‘We did it in the bush; day or night.”
Now all that has changed.
With a sanitation voucher worth USD 60 - approximately 25,000 Naira - Jibo paid for the construction of his toilet.
“It has taken shame away from us. We no longer have to worry about people seeing us when we answer the call of nature,” said Jibo.
The sanitation voucher Jibo got was funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant awarded to UNICEF in 2021 to support the government’s initiative to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states of north-west Nigeria.
The sanitation voucher is a targeted subsidy mechanism designed to enhance universal access to sanitation services with due consideration to the poor and vulnerable in each project community.
A total of 3,600 communities are earmarked to receive the sanitation vouchers across the states of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara through the USAID Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project.
Families are selected as beneficiaries of the sanitation vouchers based on community-prescribed criteria of most vulnerable families.
“The sanitation vouchers will support and accelerate elimination of open defecation in communities, ensuring 300,000 girls, boys, women, and children, live in certified open defecation free (ODF) communities and reap maximum public health benefits of living in ODF communities,” says Ferdinand Njue, UNICEF WASH Manager.
“Households in a community can only derive full health benefits from constructing their toilet if everyone else in their community uses a toilet and stops practicing open defecation,” adds Njue.
Underlining all of this is the continuous demand creation for sanitation by sensitizing and engaging communities through community-based Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMs) and Community Development Associations for practice of sanitation and hygiene in the community.
According to the Multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS) 2021, only 35.5 per cent of the population in Zamfara State have access to basic sanitation services.
However, if more families like the Jibo’s are empowered to own toilets and use them, the percentage of the population defecating in the open in Zamfara State, and north-west Nigeria, could begin to decrease.