Community volunteers inspect sanitation facilities in Nalitungwe informal settlement in Windhoek, Namibia, Nov. 20, 2020. A community-led total sanitation initiative in informal settlements on the outskirts of Namibian capital, Windhoek, is promoting community hygiene and public health. (Photo by Ndalimpinga Iita/Xinhua)
by Ndalimpinga Iita
WINDHOEK, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) - A community-led total sanitation initiative in informal settlements on the outskirts of Namibian capital, Windhoek, is promoting community hygiene and public health.
Under the project implemented by the non-profit organization, Development Workshop Namibia, community volunteers mobilize dwellers to take action and eliminate open defecation, which has been a health hazard over the years.
"Our core aim is to ensure that each household builds its toilet. This we achieved through mobilization and civic education," said David Nakanue, an assistant leader at the Development Workshop Namibia.
Dwellers have since taken the initiative to build their toilets. Although it was not easy to convince the community used to their ways, according to Nakanue, they slowly made progress.
The organization first had to establish a community sanitation centre that served as a pilot to demonstrate to the community the advantages of access to clean facilities. "It worked as dwellers saw the benefits," he said on Friday.
To accelerate the roll-out of the initiative, the volunteers also formed a support group with the community. "Through the group, each member was assisted in building a toilet, which had a ripple effect," he said.
Since its roll-out later last year, the project has since yielded multiple benefits for the community.
Loide Johannes, a resident of Nalitungwe informal settlement, was a delighted woman. For the first time in many years, she has had her toilet at her dwelling.
"I never thought it was possible. I feel my dignity has been restored. I no longer have to use alternative modes such as the bush," she said on Friday.
The provision of toilets four households in the highly populated informal settlement has also improved hygiene and safety in the area.
Hendrina Kashonga, a volunteer with the Development Workshop Namibia, said that before this project, the community encountered various challenges.
"As people would defecate in the open and usually bushy areas, there were many cases of crime encountered. People were also prone to diseases, but since then, things have improved," Kashonga said.
According to Kashonga, access to toilets was further complemented by the provision of tippy taps, with emphasis on handwashing. More than 17,400 tippy taps have been built in Windhoek.
Some toilets are also painted colorfully and carry health and hygiene messages. "This is to reinforce our key aim and drive behavioral change," said Nakanue.
In the interim, to ensure the sustainability of the project, the volunteers initiated a brick project, through which they raise funds to ensure all households have toilets successfully.
"Despite progress made, some challenges persist. We do not have adequate facilities for running the project, such as a cement mixer machine amongst others. But this would not derail our efforts to improve our communities," said Nakanue.
The program is implemented in four constituencies in Windhoek.
In the interim, it is hoped that the community-led total sanitation initiative would propel massive large changes in hygiene behaviors in informal settlements.
The organization has trained volunteers for the community-led total sanitation campaign in several towns across the country, including Swakopmund, Karibib, Windhoek, and Otjiwarongo. Enditem