Baringo celebrates first ODF village
Afya Uzazi has lined up more than 160 villages to achieve community-led total sanitation
Many people still practice Open Defecation (OD) both in the rural and urban areas. Open defecation not only pollutes the environment but could easily lead to the outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and intestinal infections.
According to the World Health Organization, “2.3 billion people around the globe defecate in the open due to the lack of toilets”.
Nearly six million Kenyans lack access to proper sanitation facilities and are forced by circumstance to defecate in the open.
The World Toilet Day draws attention to the global challenge of poor sanitation and galvanizes support to end open defecation. The theme of this year’s day was “When nature calls, we must listen and act”.
USAID’s Afya Uzazi program marked the 2018 World Toilet Day on the 19th November at Kabarasel village in Baringo County, one of the 162 selected to lead progress towards achieving open defecation-free status in the region.
Kabarsel, the first community to be certified and declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), held celebrations to mark the status coinciding with the World Toilet Day.
The village became an ODF zone after Afya Uzazi implemented the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) strategy within the area. Four other villages have been certified.
With USAID support and in partnership with the county, Afya Uzazi seeks to improve the community’s health by advocating for proper water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices through the CLTS approach. WASH is part of a comprehensive package of services Afya Uzazi promotes to improve maternal and child health.
CLTS mobilizes communities to eliminate open defecation by ensuring everyone has a safe toilet and practices proper hygiene, including handwashing at critical times.
The behavior change approach has proved to be effective at Kabarasel and other villages where residents collectively agreed to practice simple hygiene practices to avoid the fecal-to-oral disease cycle.
A fecal-to-oral disease cycle is a route of transmission of disease where pathogens in faeces pass from one person to another person through contaminated water and food.
The World Toilet Day celebrations were graced by top county officials including the Baringo North MP, Hon William Cheptumo, Member of County Assembly (MCA) Aengero John and representatives from the ministries of Education, Water and Sanitation and Environment.
Through speeches, song and dance, residents thanked Afya Uzazi and the County Government for empowering the community to take care of their own sanitation.
The Kabarsel village community chairperson Richard Kagongo received a token of appreciation from the Baringo North Member of Parliament Mathew Cheptumo for mobilizing the community to act against open defecation.
The MP expressed his gratitude to the Afya Uzazi team and the County Government for working to achieve the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ensuring availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030.
The guest of honor, Dr. Gideon Cheptumo, the Baringo Chief Officer, expressed concern about the high cost of poor sanitation.
“Diarrhea is estimated to kill over 1.5 million children worldwide each year, with 88 percent attributed to fecal contamination,” he stated.
“The Department of Health uses so much money to treat patients (for diseases) that could have easily been prevented at the village level,” he added.
Dr. Cheptumo urged the community to act to prevent communicable diseases.
The county, with support from Afya Uzazi, has triggered 162 villages, setting off a series of steps in the CLTS process that leads to open defecation-free status. The county has 2,021 villages. Forty-five villages have claimed to be defecation-free, but this has to be verified by a team of inspectors. The claims of 19 other villages have been verified and they now await certification to join the five that were ODF zones at November 2018.
Story and photos by Denise Akun, Afya Uzazi Nakuru-Baringo Program