Samiullah is happy to use the water from hand washing station.

No more outdoor space!

Using outdoor space as a local latrine is one of the factors that contributes to the spread of diseases and unpleasant odors in villages in Afghanistan. Due to poor economic conditions, people often do not have a specific place in their houses designated for a latrine. Thus, people must use open spaces to meet their needs, rarely washing their hands afterwards.

WV Afghanistan, with financial support from WVUS, reaches the most vulnerable families in remote villages to improve the understanding of villagers about the importance of personal and environmental hygiene practices. WVA encourages people to dedicate specific places for latrines, use local materials to construct them, and install a handwashing station to wash their hands after using the latrine. The villagers are able to use available resources such as clay and wood and build latrine with a door in their houses to prevent unpleasant odors and maintain the dignity of family members, particularly women and girls.

Fatehullah, 40, is a villager in Naizara village. He says, “Before now we used outdoor space as a latrine. Always, the house environment had unpleasant odor. We had a small place for the women, which did not have a door and unleashed an odor. In the past, when the children became ill, we did not understand that this was the reason for their illness. From the time we became aware that [defecating in an] outdoor space was causing the spread of illness, we started to think of building a latrine with a door. After a while, I realized that diseases in our house have decreased. We have also learned to make a hand washing tank by using a jerry can and marker. Now the family members are using this tank to wash their hands with soap after using the latrine.”

Samiullah, 5, is Fatehullah’s son. He is using the hand washing station, which was made by his father. He uses this to wash his hands with soap after coming out of the latrine. Though he understood the importance of washing his hands after using the latrine, he was unable to practice it until he had a hand washing station. Now he is happy that he is able to wash his hands after using the toilet.

Nasim is using local latrine.

Nasim, 19, says, “From the time I built this latrine, I feel very relieved. No more using the outdoor as a latrine. It was very bad especially in the dark nights. Worst of all, there were no hand washing facilities. Sometimes, when I was not bored I went to the stream to wash my hands, but often, this did not happen. Now I feel our life is better.  There is no unpleasant odor in the yard and I can wash my hands easily after using the toilet.”

Using these low-cost facilities brought health and hygiene to the families living in Naizab village. The burden of expensive health costs has since decreased. This is a very inexpensive and simple method to maintain personal and environmental hygiene. It erased the culture of using the outdoors for defecation and introduced a culture of hand washing. It is envisioned that the children will transfer this culture to future generations.