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Joro Manu, a 75-year-old man with 2 wives and 10 children from Shambayi community, Tikau ward of Nangere LGA in Yobe State revealed that communities that practice open defection do so out of ignorance not because of lack of fund to construct a latrine.
“I used to console myself that the reason why I did not construct a latrine for my household was because of lack of fund. Thinking about it now, I see that it was actually because I did not know that defecting in the open was the major reason why my children were always ill with diarrhea and was responsible for all the stomach trouble we all had very frequently” Joro Manu commented as he gave a derisive laugh mocking his past ignorance.
“Defecating in the open even when we did it in secret places is a sore subject that we rarely spoke about in my community. Each time we step on shit, we just close our eyes and walk in a different direction. We could not openly rebuke anyone doing it because we were all guilty.” Joro said as he plucked freshly grown vegetables by the garden in his compound.
When Action Against Hunger- SUNNY project came on board with the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach under WASH, triggering communities in Nangere LGA to understand the effects of open defecation, and leading the discussion on how households can build their own latrines with whatever level of resources they have, community members such as Joro jumped at the idea. “I said to myself, if open defecation was as dangerous as they have explained, I will try this new approach and dig a latrine and see the difference. Truly the story is different for my family and other families in my community that have dug their own latrine” Joro said as he proudly showed off his newly constructed latrine which he promised to roof as soon as possible.
“Before now, we couldn’t think of harvesting vegetables from around the house due to the presence of feces all around, but now that we defecate in our toilet, the environment is clean, and we can harvest fresh vegetables like lallo for food” he said with an air of dignity as he looked at his wives busy preparing dinner. “I can walk around my house environment without fear of stepping on poop. All thanks to Action Against Hunger and everyone that brought about the concept of CLTs.” Joro said.