Community action pays off as more villages declared open defecation free

Afya Uzazi Nakuru-Baringo Program
4 min readSep 27, 2019


Last year, Baringo celebrated the first village to be declared an open-defecation free zone in the county. The celebration of the new status of Kabarasel village marked the beginning of an accelerated campaign to end open defecation in over 2,500 villages.

This week, the county recorded another victory in the journey as 11 of 67 villages certified to be free of open defecation held a joint celebration at Kasisit in Baringo North, with over 300 others as well, are on their way to being declared ODF zones.

The progress towards ODF status has been achieved through Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Afya Uzazi has partnered with the county government to implement this proven approach that brings together communities to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Besides Kabarasel, the villages that have achieved universal latrine use are Lebesian, Kibiros, Sogom, Mogoi, Kabiyewo, Suswechun, Biriekwonin, Kapraste, Bartakok, Endip and Kasesya.

On September 24, county health officials and local leaders joined community members from the 11 villages in an event to celebrate the villages.

Speaking at the event, the Baringo County First Lady Ivy Kiptis urged communities to embrace sanitation and hygiene practices that help to prevent diseases such as typhoid and diarrhea.

“When we practice proper sanitation and hygiene in our homes, we will be able to prevent the transmission of infection caused through hands water and food,” she said.

Dr. Winnie Bore, the Baringo County Chief Officer for Public Health, commended the 11 villages for acting to improving hygiene.

She said that the use of latrines and handwashing were simple effective actions that help prevent diseases.

“Research has shown that individuals who use latrines properly and wash after using the toilet are less likely to get infections,” she said.

The Afya Uzazi Chief of Party Dr. Boniface Maket applauded the villages for embracing the CLTS approach.

“Initially, the incidence of diarrhea cases in these villages was high because many people practiced open defecation,” said Dr Maket.

“What we are witnessing today is behavior change, every single home in these villages has been verified and certified to have met sanitation standards.”

Baringo County CEC for Health Mary Panga thanked the Afya Uzazi for working closely with the County Government towards improving sanitation within the county.

“Children are more exposed to infections when human waste is not properly disposed of. Let’s all strive to defend our ODF status and prevent infection,” the CEC said.

Charles Chesang, a resident of Kasisit, one of the villages that were declared an ODF zone, says the education he received during the CLTS campaign encouraged him to construct a toilet for his family.

“I was disgusted when they showed us how we eat our own faeces when we do not wash hands after visiting the toilet,” he said, referring to triggering, the first step in the CLTS process during which health educators demonstrate how germs from feces left in the open to food. The demos trigger disgust and catalyze people to act.

Chesang said he now understands why his children often got diarrhea.

“Since we started using the toilet and washing hands, my children have not been ill. It makes me happy because am not spending a lot of money on treatment.”

It is estimated that open defecation costs Baringo County 538 million shillings due to the cost of treating diseases caused by poor sanitation, premature deaths and loss in productivity.

Eventually, the county hopes to intensify campaigns to ensure all its over 2,500 villages achieve open defecation-free status.

See more images on Flickr:

Story by Denise Akun and George Obanyi/ Afya Uzazi

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Afya Uzazi Nakuru-Baringo Program

Afya Uzazi Program works to improve access to quality health services for mothers, children, adolescents and youth in two counties in Kenya with USAID support.