Madagascar villagers learn dangers of outdoor defecation

©WSSCC/Hiroyuki Saito Families in the village of Andoharanovelona in Madagascar typically did not use latrines until they were told of the dangers of open defecation. (May 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The discussion with villagers starts early in the morning. Volunteers are invited to draw a map of their village on the ground with chalk. One woman’s sketch shows 17 families – a total of 65 people – living in 11 red clay houses. She explains they share the three latrines that have been there for some time.

“The latrines in the village are not well maintained,” offered another participant, “so many of us go to the outskirts of the village to finish our business.”

The village is Andoharanovelona, 60 kilometers south of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar – one of the world’s poorest countries – where the UN estimates that some 11.3 million people defecate in the open.

The conversation in the village is led by a team of four sanitation practitioners working with a local non-governmental organization known as Miarintsoa.

Eugène Rasamoelina, the head of Miarintsoa, asks the participants how often the latrines are used and whether three latrines are enough for all 65 residents. At first, they are too shy to respond, mumbling that this is none of their concern. But Mr Rasamoelina persists and they reluctantly acknowledge that, in fact, they rarely use the latrines at all and instead defecate on the ground, a practice known as open defecation.

Careful to ensure the villagers are comfortable continuing the conversation, Mr Rasamoelina takes out a bag of sawdust and asks them to sprinkle its contents on a drawing of the village sketched into the dusty ground to indicate where they defecate. Eucalyptus trees and a pond at the outskirts of the village are soon covered with piles of wood particles, with a few piles placed inside the village, as well.

As they take a long, hard look at the sawdust piles, Eugène Rasamoelina raises the issue of flies and their role in oral-fecal transmission “Flies can transfer fecal material to the food and then to the mouth,” he explains, and a startling revelation comes over the village dwellers. “That’s why I was feeling sick,” said one, “I didn’t realize the danger to our children.”

In the “community triggering” approach employed by Eugène and his team, practitioners serve merely as facilitators. Their role is not to pressure community members to stop open defecation immediately but rather to give them the power to make well-informed decisions and to lead their own initiatives to  transform their villages.

“When we visit villages that practice open defecation, our main message is how human excrement can contaminate or pollute human beings,” he says.

According to the World Bank, 77 per cent of the Malagasy population, some 24 million people, is estimated to live on less than US$1.90 a day, which places Madagascar among the poorest countries in the world. Open defecation is often related to poverty.

With the support of the Global Sanitation Fund, managed by the UN’s Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), community triggering is being used by 18 implementing partner organizations across Madagascar with the goal of eliminating open defecation.  As of December 2018, more than 17,000 villages have been declared open defecation free and 3.74 million people use improved latrines.

Villagers are recommended to clean up or transform open defecation sites into playgrounds or other public gathering places to stop the contamination and transmission of disease.

Any new latrines need to be fly-proof to prevent excrement being passed between people and animals and all people are encouraged to practice good hygiene by washing their hands after using a latrine.

WSSCC’s Sue Coates, says that stopping open defecation is not a final stop for the communities, but just the beginning of a series of life improvements.

“After working hard to make their own villages free from open defecation,” says Ms Coates, “communities become increasingly resilient and willing to continue sanitation improvements. And they’re better-positioned to tackle other issues such as menstrual hygiene management, health, nutrition and economic growth.”

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

How India’s globalized cities will change its future

Is euro to repeat its past highs with the dollar?

EU Budget 2019: MEPs increase funding on youth, migration and research

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

This is how the Western Balkans will become more innovative

ECB will be the catalyst of Eurozone’s reunification

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

A Sting Exclusive: EU Commission’s Vice President Šefčovič accentuates the importance of innovation to EU’s Energy Union

EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia

France and Poland to block David Cameron’s plans on immigration

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

LGBTQI+ and medicine

EU imposes provisional anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels

The IMF overstates the risks for Eurozone and downgrades the threats for the US economy

The European Union and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, during a recent press conference in Brussels / Berlaymont. (Copyright: EU, 2018 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart)

EU opens investigation into Qatar Petroleum over potentially restrictive gas contracts

Talking the talk: the voice-recognition disruptors looking to outsmart big tech

Health: The neglected aspect of climate change

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

Fleeing violence, Cameroonian refugee arrivals in Nigeria pass 30,000, reports UN refugee agency

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: new actions of almost €150 million to tackle human smuggling, protect vulnerable people and stabilise communities in North Africa

Bacteria vs. humans: how to fight in this world war?

Global economy to see ‘steady’ growth of three per cent in 2019 despite risks, says UN

Iraq: Education access still a challenge in former ISIL-controlled areas

Marking Sir Brian Urquhart’s 100th birthday, UN honours life-long servant of ‘we the peoples’

Germany to re-invent its security position in Europe and a chaotic world

Security Council renews Central African Republic arms embargo

Humanitarian Aid: additional €50 million to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa

Online marketplaces can help close Africa’s skills gap

Six ways to cut through the Middle East’s geopolitical fog

‘Undersea gardeners’ are restoring Jamaica’s lost coral reefs

Human rights are everyone’s business, amid relentless crises around world: UN’s Bachelet

What do refugees really need from those who want to help? A refugee explains

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

3 things to know about women in STEM

Seven trends shaping the future of the mining and metals industry

Migrants: ‘A powerful driver’ of economic growth, ‘dynamism and understanding’

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

Trust links up supply chains. How do you establish it in the digital era?

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

In Chad, top UN officials say humanitarian response must go ‘hand in hand’ with longer-term recovery

Hydrogen isn’t the fuel of the future. It’s already here

Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

Drought in southern Africa: EU releases over €22 million in humanitarian aid

Security Council extends mandate of UN Interim Force in Lebanon for a year

Women to save Europe’s own labour resources

These cities have the best quality of life

From coca to cocoa: three lessons from Peru on how farmers can leave the drug trade behind

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

EU summit: Are the London Tories planning an exit from the EU?

How to build a model for human security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Job vacancy data reveal better prospects for Britain, stagnation in Eurozone

The 5 mistakes we’re making in the fight against global energy poverty

Here are three ways Africa’s youth are defeating corruption

Trade surplus up production down in Eurozone

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s