Village enjoys Open Defecation-Free status

Community-led process makes people realize the dangers of open defecation and that they had the power to change the situation.

Afya Uzazi Nakuru-Baringo Program
4 min readDec 17, 2018
Community members proudly show the sign that certifies their village free of open defecation free.

Residents of Kabarsel have every reason to be proud. In November 2018, they became the first village in Baringo County to be declared an Open Defecation-Free (ODF) zone.

The village is the first open-defecation free (ODF) zone in the county, setting the stage for local communities to end open defecation.

A month after achieving the village was declared free of open, some of the residents shared their views:

Richard Kagongo, community leader

Richard Kagongo is the chairperson of the village committee formed to drive community-led total sanitation (CLTS). Richard says outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid, intestinal infections and diarrhea were common. “Most children could not attend school regularly due to frequent bouts of diarrhea.”

He said CLTS was an effective process because it made the peoples realize the danger of open defecation and that they had the power to change the situation.

“The people agreed to form a committee that would ensure everyone has a safe toilet,” he says.

Richard and other committee members are committed to ensure the village remains an ODF zone.

Salina Shogwei, grandparent

Salina with her grandchildren

“My children and grandchildren used to suffer a lot from persistent diarrhea. I spent a lot of money on treatment . . . the nearest dispensary is far.

Every time we went for treatment, the doctor said it was an infection. I wondered what kind of an infection it was because it kept coming back.

We did not know the cause of diarrhea, until the day we attended the meeting (triggering session) where health officers collected faeces and showed us how it contaminates our food. I was disgusted and ashamed.

At the time, the whole village was full of feces, flies and had a foul smell.

Immediately after the session, I got some young men to build a simple latrine in my compound and also set up a hand-washing facility.

My grandchildren used to relief themselves near the garden while adults went deep into the bush. Other people relieved themselves by the roadside, especially at night.

As a family, we collectively agreed to practice proper hygiene and sanitation.

We collected all the open feces within the compound and disposed them in the newly built toilet. For more than four months now, my children have not fallen sick.”

Student Johawa Job, 14 years

Jahawa shows newly built family latrine.

“My name is Johawa Job. I took part in the walk to find faeces (as part of the CLTS triggering). We found faeces in everywhere we passed, even next to my home. I was embarrassed and wanted to change the behavior in the community.

During the triggering session, I learnt that human faeces left in the open is harmful and can cause deadly diseases.

I persuaded my mother to build a latrine and even explained to her how germs spread from faeces to water and food.

I encouraged my younger siblings to wash their hands after visiting the toilet to avoid contamination.

At school, I sensitized my all my friends and classmates from the neighboring communities on proper sanitation and hygiene practices.”

Mary demonstrates hand washing at a new facility she installed near a latrine.

Mary Chelanga, 65 years

“I had a latrine, but I did not always keep it clean. Whenever it was dirty, I opted to relief myself in the bush and this became a habit. I forgot I had a latrine.

On the day of the meeting (triggering), the whole village was educated on how human faeces in the open leads to diseases. They health workers showed us how we end up eating human faeces. I felt terrible and vomited.

After the meeting, we built a new toilet. This time I am dedicated to keep it clean.

I took it upon myself to sensitize to my friends in the neighboring village on the importance of having a latrine.

As a village, we also formed a committee to ensure no one defecates in the open again.”

With USAID support, Afya Uzazi Program works with local leaders and communities to improve promote healthy practices by encouraging good sanitation and hygiene using the community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach.

CLTS is a behavior change approach through which communities mobilize to eliminate open defecation, promote hand-washing and other hygienic practices including safe disposal of household waste.

Kabarsel is one of over 160 villages Afya Uzazi and the Baringo county team have triggered to take steps to end open defecation.

Story and photos: Denise Akun, Afya Uzazi.



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.