Rural households investing in improved latrines
Mukamutesi Godence is one of the 330 residents of Nyantoki village, Budahanda cell, located in the Musha sector of Rwamagana district. She is a farmer and a mother of three children. In July 2018, Isuku Iwacu conducted an introductory training on mapping village sanitation status and promotion of the use of improved and basic latrines in order to move households up the sanitation ladder in her village.
At the time, only 36 households had improved latrines , 20 had no latrine, and 274 households – including Mukamutesi’s – had unimproved sanitation facilities. Although Mukamutesi could afford to construct an improved latrine using revenue from her farming business, she did not perceive any need to invest in a better latrine for her family.
"For a long time I did not think it was necessary for me to have an improved latrine. Sure, we would hide and feel embarrassed when we saw someone approaching but so did everyone else in the village”, said Mukamutesi as she laughed. "When I saw the decent and hygienic latrines constructed by my neighbors, I knew that I also wanted to have one like that for my family."
Mukamutesi has invested her income construct an improved latrine for her family.
Following the training, the head of Nyantoki village along with other local leaders mobilized the community to develop an action plan of how everyone in the village could have basic or improved latrines. Through village meetings, Umuganda (community work), parents evening meetings, and door to door visits, all residents of Nyantoki village were sensitized on the importance of improved latrines for better health outcomes, especially for children below the age of five years, and hygienic maintenance of the latrines.
In the beginning, many residents with a similar mindset as Mukamutesi resisted the idea of investing their resources to construct a latrine. However, local leaders persuaded and educated village members on the importance of latrines to reduce illnesses and as a result, many accepted to use their own resources to construct improved latrines. Also contributing to this change of mindset were the Isuku Iwacu-supported latrines for vulnerable households, which motivated and inspired householders in Ubudehe categories 3 and 4 to have similar latrines for their families.
Some used earnings from their farming activities while others sold livestock, such as goats. Meanwhile, those who did not have resources to construct or rehabilitate their latrines came together and supported each other. “This was a good strategy which enabled us to achieve so much as many were willing to help. They gave their time to make mud bricks or dig the pit holes and the community got the opportunity to really own this campaign”, said Nyirabahizi Marie Claire, head of Nyantoki village.
Mukamutesi’s newly improved latrine with a hand-washing station.
Convinced of the benefits of improved latrines and seeing the latrines constructed by her neighbors, Mukamutesi finally took the decision to construct one for her family. In August 2018, she used earnings from her millet harvest to start constructing her improved latrine. She engaged the services of local masons and paid some community members to make mud bricks. Although her latrine is not yet completed, as it is missing a permanent door, the family has already started using it.
For Mukamutesi, this latrine is very different from what she and her family had previously and they are already enjoying the benefits. “Firstly, there are no houseflies in the compound any more. They were so many and everywhere, in the house and in the kitchen, but today you can see for yourself that the compound is clean, with no flies. Secondly, I am no longer ashamed to direct my visitors to the latrine,” said Mukamutesi with a smile.
This February, after harvesting and selling her millet, she will buy and install a door for the latrine.
Written by Minnie N. Karanja.