When you think about open defecation, the situation is more pronounced in rural communities in the Northern region where almost all households lack toilet facilities. In such areas the norm has for many decades been to defecate in the bush whenever there is a need to empty the bowel.
But now things are gradually changing and communities in Gushegu municipal assembly have pit latrines which give them the privacy they need whenever they want to ease themselves. This may not be the toilet facility you are familiar with in the city. But here in Tong, a far reaching community within the Gushegu municipal assembly, this round structure made of mud and thatch has helped transform the lives of residents.
Until three years ago, the entire Tong community did not have a single toilet facility. All these mud houses were constructed decades ago without the consideration of a place of convenience.
Free range or defecating openly has been a normal way of life from generation to generation.
Amina today moves from her compound to ease herself in this pit latrine. When she’s done, she goes to a semblance of a tap called tippy tap to wash her hands with soap.
The pit latrines which are in 30 households in Tong were constructed by the residents. The resources used came from the monies they had saved through the Savings for Transformation module introduced to the community by World Vision three years ago. Amina says but for the fact that human excreta decomposes naturally, the bushes around these households would have been covered with faeces. She recalled how they sometimes used to step on faeces on their way to the farm.
Now with the pit latrines and tippy taps in their homes, Amina says their hygiene has improved and diseases such as cholera which used to be prevalent in the past have decreased. At a nearby CHPS compound, the facility had no patients diagnosed with diarrhea or cholera.
Households in Tong community may be very far from owning a water closet perhaps in the next decade, but since residents started using pit latrines three years ago, the change in lifestyle is one that puts smiles on their faces whenever they meet to share testimonies of how such an intervention has impacted their lives.