PIT latrines are a low cost huts, built to help people answer the call of nature. However, they are associated with accidents of children and even adults falling in when they collapse.
At Kizerui Village, at the far end corner of the East Usambara Mountains, in the Amani Division of Muheza District, Tanga Region, cases of children falling into pit latrine was just a common accident about three years ago.
However, the introduction of the improved pit latrine in the village and other seven villages where a three-year project known as ‘Integrated Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambaras’ is changing attitudes towards the importance of toilets and saving the lives of children and people’s health in general.
The project is being implemented by a consortium of partners including the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), as the lead partners.
Others are the Non Governmental Organization whose mission is to put technology at the service of human development, to build a more just and fraternal society, Engineering for Human Development (ONGAWA). Other partners are Muheza District Council and two Universities: Sokoine University of Agriculture and Leeds University.
Coincidentally, the quiet revolution is happening one year after the kick off of the national campaign that targets to change community behaviours on the use of quality toilets in communities, dubbed “Usichukulie Poa” or Don’t take it casually’.
Reports from the eight villages (Shambangeda, Mgambo, Kwemsoso, Kazita and Misalai (Misalai Ward) and Zirai, Kwelumbizi and Kizerui (Zirai Ward) recently found that almost all the villages have now instituted bylaws that slap fines on people who do not have improved pit latrines.
The intervention is part of components of the climate adaptation project whose overall objective is to demonstrate effective and efficient strategies that support poor rural households in Tanzania to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change and to alleviate poverty.
According to the TFCG Project Manager, Eustack Mtui, the improved latrines intervention is part of the Hygiene and Sanitation component for the realization of the critical role of improved sanitation the implementation of wide range development goals.
“Few interventions have the potential to contribute to such a wide range of development goals as access to improved sanitation facilities,” said Mtui.
He said that the project had set a target to have at least 40 percent of the communities’ population having access to improved latrines and the implementation by last year was 33 percent of the projected population having such access.
According to Mtui, the project trained two people from each village on how to construct improved pit latrines who were the main supervisors in the work of building the improved pit latrines.
The improved latrines intervention has also been related to a similar improvement of school toilets in the hope that use of improved toilets at school having a fall-out effect on the villagers through school children who would encourage their parents to upgrade their toilets at home.
According to the Village Executive Officer of the Kizerui village situated in the far end corner of the diversity rich mountains, in Muheza District, Anderson Kingazi, behaviours of villagers in those villages vis a vis toilets are changing fast since the introduction of improved latrines. “The fear of a child falling down the pit latrine is now a thing of the past.
The improved latrine has significantly reduced such a fear, but is also saving lives because of improved health because there not many people now defecating in bushes near homes and spreading diseases,” said Kingazi.