Bitabo 1 village in the Masaba North Sub County of Nyamira County is home to 480 people. Of the 90 households in this village, nearly half (43 households) lacked access to latrines. This meant that half the village practiced open defecation and were at risk of preventable diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and dysentery.
Gilbert Manyibe is a motorcycle taxi driver from Bitabo I village. He is also the community health volunteer (CHV) working in his village to promote improved sanitation and hygiene. “I was touched when I learned that latrine coverage was only 51 percent. I vowed that I would work tirelessly to safeguard the health of my village and future generations,” he said.
USAID, through the Kenya Integrated, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project (KIWASH), trained Gilbert on community-led total sanitation (CLTS) practices, such as building latrines and “tippy tap” handwashing stations, social and behavior change communication skills, and sanitation marketing aimed at supporting communities to adopt and sustain hygienic behaviors.
Gilbert became so passionate about improving sanitation and hygiene in his village that even carried his training materials with him when riding his motorcycle. “I encouraged my riders, other taxi drivers and my villagers to construct latrines and embrace improved sanitation and hygiene behaviors,” he said.
Gilbert’s hard work paid off. Members of Bitabo I village started using latrines, handwashing, and treating and safely storing their water. And after just six weeks, Gilbert was proud to announce Bitabo I as the first of 30 targeted communities to be open defecation free. This means that members of Bitabo 1 village have now stopped open defecation, they practice handwashing, treat and safely store water and hence have reduced the risk of being infected with diseases related to poor sanitation and hygiene. Now every household has access to a latrine. Gilbert stands proudly next to his motorbike and says, “I thank God that my approach worked, and I know my community is equally proud of this achievement. I also thank KIWASH for their continued support to improve the lives and health of communities in Nyamira County.”
An additional 1,465 households in Nyamira county have built toilets, and 75 KIWASH-trained CHVs continue to monitor and support the adoption of good hygiene practices. These successes are part of a larger effort across nine counties in Kenya. In 2018, KIWASH targeted 651 villages for CLTS practices as a first step to creating a demand for improved sanitation and hygiene. Of these, at least 414 villages have been verified as open defecation free. As a result of these collaborative efforts with the respective counties and the Ministry of Health, KIWASH enabled 45,370 people to gain access to basic sanitation and hygiene services.