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Community-led Total Sanitation

t-story-7.jpgIn the Mangochi District 73% of the people have access to safe drinking water but 30% of the population lives with no sanitation facilities and are practicing open defecation. Nkhata Bay falls well below the national standard in the number of water points per person and only 18% of the district population is using improved sanitation facilities.

In partnership with UNICEF, our community-led total sanitation approach in the area I visited will support 130,000 people to gain access to improved sanitation facilities. What does that mean?  Community-led total sanitation means that the communities build their own toilets and stop open defecation.

The 200 villages we are working on in the three areas made a commitment to eliminate open defecation and that each of their households has both a latrine and a method to wash their hands after. Why the need for latrines?   Read this UNICEF press release which outlines some of the risks of open defecation.  Unicef Press Release

One district official told us, after many attempts at educating the communities on the risks of open defecation (such as flies contaminating food with faecal matter) they realized that “they were eating their own feces” in some cases.   By making the connection that bluntly and directly, the communities understood and embraced the need to change.