In March 2014 the people of Freedom community in a Zambian rural district of Monze had unusual visitors with unusual message. The meeting was well attended in a church building. Such meetings are not unusual in Freedom community, a densely populated settlement on the periphery of the business centre of Monze district. There are nearly 6000 people cramped in an area of an estimate 10 hectare land size. It’s dotted with pit latrines and shallow water wells. Stories are told of persistent diarrhoea diseases in the community, largely blamed on contamination of ground water by the hundreds pit latrines that occupy little spaces left in between mainly unplanned muddy houses.
The 30 people, men and women attending the meeting were expectant of another donor’s precious gift; improved houses, better roads, free medical services, a new school or food aid. But no, none of them came.
As the Dry Toilet Association of Finland’s (Käymäläseura Huussi ry) Project Manager, Sari Huuhtanen described the project, the faces of the ‘congregants’ changed from expectant to surprise and near disbelief. The visiting team discussed the DRY TOILET. The toilet will store human waste (faecal matter and urine) and use them to grow food crops.
“It’s unheard of, it’s a crazy idea….we cannot touch faeces….it’s shameful…..we cannot eat food fertilised by faeces and urine”, people murmured.
The meeting was followed a few weeks later by 4 days of intensive education in a workshop attended by 20 carefully selected community members. The workshop was on ecological sanitation including the dry toilets concept and was followed by 13 days of learning how to build a dry toilet. These events suddenly changed community perception on the dry toilet. In three months over 100 households have applied to be supported the project to build a dry toilet.
Who said education was the world’s most powerful change agent?
Story by: Emmanuel Mutamba /Project coordinator – Green Living Movement, our partner organisation in the Monze -project.