Since 2015, all villages in Busia County have been certified as open defecation free. This means that most households use a latrine and wash their hands after visiting the toilet. However, households with a simple pit latrine still suffer with bad smells and flies and are at risk of waterborne diseases. Moreover, in parts of the county where the soil is loose, latrines run the risk of collapsing.
To address these challenges and intensify sanitation and hygiene efforts, KIWASH, along with the county government and the Ministry of Health, are taking steps to promote safe and affordable improvements for pit latrines. Two options are the SATO pan, which has a unique self-sealing trap door that closes quickly, seals tightly, and can be fitted to an existing latrine, and the SAFI (Kiswahili for “clean”) latrine, which has concrete walls designed to withstand soil pressure and prevent structures from collapsing. Both options eliminate smell and flies for improved hygiene.
KIWASH is reaching out to communities in Busia County with sanitation information and training hardware owners and local artisans in the construction of both types of latrines. Most recently, at the Port-Victoria Hospital in Busia County, local artisans from Bunyala Sub-County benefited from practical demonstrations on developing the improved sanitation products.
Alfred Mbira is one of the trainee artisans. While he participates in the practical demonstrations, he is pleasantly surprised to learn that he can install a SATO pan to an existing toilet in under 30 minutes, make some money, and help to put an end to diseases spread by flies and germs. Of the improved latrine, he says, “The SATO pan is clean, affordable and easy to install. I am confident that the community will take it up because the benefits are high and the costs are low.”
One of the trainers, 28-year-old Emmanuel Midida, learned how to construct the SAFI latrine in 2015. So far, he has trained 400 artisans and personally installed more than 130 SAFI latrines. He knows only too well its benefits. “The SAFI latrine is safe, durable, cost effective, and uses readily available materials,” he said.
From the training, each artisan will install one of the improved latrines within his own household. As they install the latrines in their communities, they will also confirm that their clients have a hand washing facility. When there is not one existing, they will install one at no cost.
The Busia County Executive for Health, Madam Phaustine Barasa, only wishes the community had learned of the improved latrines much earlier. “The improved options are brilliant for communities, especially those that have had challenges with cholera. Their very ability to keep out flies and trap smells is impressive. This will definitely help to improve the health of people in my county,” she said.