Every mission requires the right mindset and World Vision has taken steps towards achieving sustainable sanitation through sensitising and supporting households to construct and use clean latrines. Use of latrines, combined with clean water and good hygiene, form a strong defence against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks. The Isuku Iwacu project that phased out in March 2020, focused on three strategic areas; increasing demand for sanitation products and services at the household level, strengthening the supply of sanitation products and services, and developing an improved enabling environment to support new markets for improved sanitation.
World Vision played a critical role within the Isuku Iwacu project consortium by creating awareness, through behaviour change communications, around sanitation improvement in the communities of Rwanda. Using Community Hygiene Clubs in villages made great savings in time and effort required to organise our communities, and therefore speeding up the process of behaviour change.
In Taba village of Kanyinya sector in Nyarugenge District, village members used to walk an average of 800 metres to get to a shared latrine to relieve themselves. There was only one latrine that was shared by over 22 households. The sanitation of this latrine was very bad, which caused diseases like diarrhoea and infections. Children would barely make the 800-metre trip at night to use the latrine; so they would use buckets at night instead, and in the morning dispose of the waste.
After Isuku Iwacu’s awareness campaign on proper human waste disposal and latrine maintenance, local leaders embraced the work and collaborated with the community to construct latrines. This increased the demand for improved latrines as community members built their own through a partnership with local government and external partners; which brought a significant synergy to establish improved latrines constructed for each household, equipped with functional hand-washing facilities for families in the whole village.
Sixty-five-year-old Nikuze Assouma is a mother of five, currently living with her three grandchildren. She is widow and a small-scale farmer who has actively participated in mobilisation and latrine construction activities. Assouma shares that she and her neighbours would also have to walk about 800 metres to relieve themselves in a shared latrine which was often very dirty because it was used by many people.
“My family often suffered from water-borne diseases leading to diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach aches. Nearly all my family’s income was spent on treating these diseases. I have an improved latrine now and do not wake up to dispose of buckets of waste as it was the case before”. Assouma adds.
Derrick,15, is a grandson of Assouma. He reflects on how they would fear to walk the distance at night and had to use a bucket instead. Derrick says that because this shared latrine was used by both adults and children, sometimes he and other children would be chased away by the elders claiming that children were the ones making the latrine dirty. “I used to have stomach upsets all the time because of poor sanitation but since we got our own latrine, this became history. I did not like waking up to go empty the buckets we used to relieve ourselves in during the nights.” he says.
Assouma thanks World Vison and district leaders for the assistance and encouragement provided to build this latrine. Through sensitisations, the community was able to change their mindset and see the importance of establishing their own latrines.