Florence Schokola

Rural Voices: Having a Toilet is a Big Thing

CIDRZ, with support from UNICEF, is assisting rural communities in the Lusaka Province of Zambia to meet Millennium Development Goal 7 for improved sanitation. By coordinating a Community-Led Total Sanitation effort in Kafue and Chongwe Districts of Lusaka Province, CIDRZ is contributing to a larger goal to create “open-defecation-free zones” for 3 million people living in rural Zambia. Here are what two villagers have to say:


Catherine Chifungula

Catherine Chifungula, Community Sanitation Action Group member, in front of her newly constructed latrine

“After the Community-Led Total Sanitation sensitisation by a village champion, a lot of households in my village now understood the importance of not defecating in the bush, and decided to build toilets with simple and inexpensive tippy tap handwashing set-ups.” 56-year old, Catherine Chifungula from Kapamangoma Village in Chongwe District recalled.
Catherine, a widow with 6 children, is a Sanitation Action Group (SAG) member in her village. SAGs monitor sanitation and encourage every household to build a toilet and a tippy tap – and emphasize using soap or ash to wash hands after every time of using the toilet.

She went on to say that “some women in other villages – those that had no husbands or men in the household – used the excuse that they didn’t have anyone to dig their pit latrines. So, they continued to defecate in the open, but this is just laziness. I take pride in my toilet! When I wake in the morning I clean the toilet and make sure that there is sufficient water, and soap or ash for handwashing. My children also know to keep the toilet clean and take turns to ensure there is always water in the tippy tap.” She says this smiling with pride, secure in the knowledge that she has taught her children the importance of cleanliness and sanitation from an early age.

34-year old, Florence Scholoka is another vibrant lady within the village. A widow with 5 children, she also expressed happiness at having her own toilet. She said that after the community sensitisation – especially after the ‘behaviour-change triggering exercise’ where fresh faecal matter and food were put close to each other. “It was so easy to see the risk of eating food that flies had touched just after they had come from touching stool. It was so disgusting to imagine eating that food; it changed a lot of resistant mindsets!” she laughed.

“My toilet is different from other toilets in the village. I made sure the man who constructed it put a toilet pan and a lid. I wanted to sit comfortably even though my toilet is still outside my house,” she exclaims. “Having a toilet is a big thing! It needs to be kept clean! Some visitors don’t like to use my toilet at first because they say that it is too clean, but after I explain the importance of a clean toilet and they space around it they become happy to use it.” she adds. “They start to agree that a toilet made out of bricks is better than a ‘grass toilet’; especially in the rainy season!”

Mrs Scholoka went on to claim that there are no more diarrhoeal cases in the village as everyone now has toilets. “Before the community sensitization, and the building of the pit latrines, so many children would always be at risk of developing diarrhoea.”

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