User-Centred Sanitation in Bidibidi Village 16
Welthungerhilfe is piloting a user-centred sanitation design that involves identifying user needs and problems with current facilities, selecting options for improvement, and the involvement of users in the design and monitoring of the sanitation facility for sustainable functionality.
The HIF-funded project is currently being implemented in two villages in two different refugee settlements in Northern Uganda hosting South Sudanese refugees. One of them is Bidibidi village 16 in zone 3 of the settlement.
Many of the refugees have been relocated to village 16 from another village in zone 3 after floods devasted their homes in June 2017. Following the relocation, organisations on the ground had to rapidly respond to the needs of the flood-affected refugees. Among others, Welthungerhilfe installed temporary sanitation facilities and intensified hygiene promotion activities to mitigate risks of disease outbreaks.
Impacting the work of Hygiene Promoters
In order to promote good sanitation and hygiene practices in the village, hygiene promoters were selected by the community and trained by Welthungerhilfe. Juan Rose, a 25 years old female, is one of them. “We have been selected by the community, because we talk openly about health issues that need to be addressed.” She said.
As a hygiene promoter Juan Rose is at the forefront of ensuring that hygiene and sanitation conditions in the village are getting better and the overall health status of the refugees is improving. This goes along with a lot of challenges including lack of motivation by some members of the community.
However, when the project began in the village in December 2017, things became easier. “For us hygiene promoters it became very easy to work. Because if you tell them [the community] to dig their pit, they will not refuse and dig their pit. It [the project] made it easy to motivate my community, very easy!”
According to Juan, the overall health and well-being related to hygiene and sanitation has significantly improved. “Since this project came to our village in December 2017 we have not noticed any hospitalisation because of diarrhoea. I think the community is generally healthier than before.”
Under this project, Welthungerhilfe is currently constructing 50 user-centred latrines for people with special needs [PSN] in this village. Rumours of the construction of the user-centred latrines also reached the surrounding villages of the Bidibidi settlement. According to Juan Rose “You will hear a lot these days that other villages want the same PSN latrines that we got. Especially, hygiene promoters from other villages want the latrines in their own villages. These latrines became famous!”
Despite several challenges faced during the construction related to the poor soil conditions in some part of the village, Juan Rose is satisfied with the project: “They have really done a lot and I appreciate we are part of the project.”
User-Centred Inclusive Design
User-centred design is at the heart of this project, and Welthungerhilfe have made sure that PSN are included in the design process. Pesto Laso is 40 years old, with visual impairment, a father of five children, has been living with the shame of not having a latrine to use at home because he had no one to help him construct one. “I have been using the bush,” he says.
“I am blind, and it is difficult for me to use a latrine. I am glad to be a beneficiary of a latrine from Welthungerhilfe. I have even expressed the kind of latrine I want; it should have guides to the latrine door and I am able to determine the squat hole in the toilet. I am very happy that my prayers have come true. I have a latrine for me and my family and I am able to walk with the guide that has been put in place. I can locate the latrine and bath room alone, unlike before where my son would guide me into the bush.”
Tapping into the skills of local masons
Robert Khemis, a 45 year old father of five children, from South Sudan and resident of Village 16 is one of the local masons equipped with extra skills to promote user-centred sanitation design in his community.
“I used to work as a porter in South Sudan before being displaced by the war and settling in Uganda as a refugee. After settling in Bidibidi, i constructed my latrine using locally available materials (mud and wattle) but it had no door, no vent pipe and the floor was mud; this not easy to clean. The old latrine was very small and short, which made it difficult for an adult to enter.
I engaged with Welthungerhilfe staff during one of the community meetings, and I was later supported with latrine construction materials that would enable me to construct latrines suitable for my family. The materials included: a plastic slab, a door, and a vent pipe. I demolished my old latrine and put up a new one. Everyone in the village liked it and my home became a model of good sanitation and hygiene in the village.”
The plastic slab makes it easy to clean the latrine as compared to the logs, and so the new latrine does not smell. In addition, the heat that comes from underground escapes through the vent pipe and it does not attract flies.
“I am very happy to be a good sanitation and hygiene agent in my community. I have also constructed a hand washing facility, bath shelter, drying crack for my household utensils, rubbish pit and have a wire line for drying clothes. Improvement in sanitation has also led to improvement in hygiene.”
Diana Ija, 30 year old mother of five and wife to Robert Khemis says, “The new latrine is very comfortable because it’s spacious, has a door for privacy and above all does not smell. I am happy that our new latrine has a handwashing facility, after using the latrine we wash our hands. The door is easy to open and even the children no longer defecate in the open since they can open the latrine door by themselves.
Welthungerhilfe also taught us the benefits of good hygiene practices; we have since constructed a bath shelter, we no longer dry our utensils on the ground because we have a drying crack. I remember before constructing this bathing shelter, I used to bath in the open behind our house only under the cover of darkness, today I bath anytime of the day without fear because I have decent bath shelter.