IRIN Africa – SANITATION: Making toilets the norm in rural Niger

IRIN Africa – SANITATION: Making toilets the norm in rural Niger

IRIN, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

ZINDER, 23 February 2011 (IRIN) – Candid talk about human excrement is making people in rural Niger, where only 2 percent of the population has adequate sanitation, insist on building and using toilets: A project there is showing people from scores of villages the dangers of open defecation.

“We put barely a speck of human waste [from the ground on the outskirts of the village] in a cup of water and ask assembled villagers who would care to drink it – no takers, of course,” Souleymane Atawaten, water and sanitation coordinator with Plan Niger, told IRIN. He and his colleagues demonstrated how flies swarm around human waste and food. “People quickly realize the danger – the link between their waste and illness.”

Plan Niger is one of several NGOs working with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and government health workers on community-led total sanitation (CLTS). Niger is one of the latest countries in West Africa where the approach is being used, according to Jane Bevan, water, sanitation and hygiene specialist with UNICEF’s West and Central Africa regional office.

This month Sierra Leone – where CLTS began in 2007 – announced its 1,000th open-defecation-free village.

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