Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A visionary, a farmer - and a healthy village: how Galung put an end to open defecation

Despite is location just 17 kilometres from the district capital, Galung is an under-developed village in Kecamatan Barru, in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi. 

Simple family latrine built in Galung Village
© UNICEF Indonesia / Gerber
140 families out of a total 484 households in the village haven’t had access to proper latrines for some time, although efforts have been made to promote better hygiene in the village. However, demand for proper sanitation has been high, frustrated mainly by low incomes prevention the construction of latrines. Despite that challenge, Galung has just been declared the first village in the district to be “open-defecation free” – meaning no families go to the toilet in the open.

This success has been determined by the fact that the village head has great interest in sanitation, and there is a creative local entrepreneur/village artisan who has been able to build cheap latrines. 

Bamboo Cement Cylinder for lining
© UNICEF Indonesia / Gerber
Village head Ahmad Suhada took the decision to use “Zakat” funds – monies collected in the community to assist poor families – to build latrines, after consultation and agreement with villagers. Ahmad used the argument that making the community healthier brings dignity – an argument that was backed by all householders.

Pak Sinar is one of those householders, and a farmer by profession. He also has skills in masonry and has produced pre-cast foundation blocks for traditional houses, which he sells to the surrounding communities. From this basis, he has gone on to manufacture portable bamboo cement plates to be used as walls of bathrooms, as well as affordable latrines. There are plenty of families from his village, as well as from others nearby, who have been quick to purchase the latrines.

Ready made ceramic bowl complete with seat and pipe.
© UNICEF Indonesia / Gerber
A latrine that is produced by Mr. Sinar is sold for 300,000 rupiahs (about US$30), plus an installation fee of 100,000 rupiahs. The cost includes a ceramic latrine bowl and a piece of PVC piping. Two bamboo cement cylinders, measuring 75 centimetres in height and diameter, along with a bamboo cement lid are also included.

Working with the local health centre, and following an awareness raising campaign in the village about the importance of “total sanitation” (which includes latrines, household hygiene, handwashing promotion, and the correct way to manage household waste and water), the village head began allocating Zakat funds to allow low-income families to purchase Sinar’s latrine sets. Special installment terms were also established to make the payments more manageable. This was the key steps towards ensuring that Galung could declare itself “open-defecation free”.

Ibu Murni with her new latrine.
© UNICEF Indonesia / Gerber
Having one’s own latrine has been especially welcomed by the women of the village. Ibu Murni is one example; tired of the indignity and health risks of having to use the outdoors for her personal hygiene, she never believed that owning her own latrine could be so affordable. Pak Sinar’s creativity and Pak Suhada’s leadership have made what was once a dream into a reality. 

District facilitator Mr. Darwis, believes that there are plenty of other Sinars in the area that can now play their role in making the whole district “open-defecation free”. In his opinion, the work of the farmer mason, combined with the foresight of the village leadership, has provided a real inspirration to other villages.