In Mali, Communities Take Health and Well-Being into their Own Hands

In Mali, Communities Take Health and Well-Being into their Own Hands. Global Waters, July 18, 2017.

In the center of Simaye village in Mali’s Mopti Region, men, women, and children gather under a large tree to listen. Two USAID-trained facilitators discuss the health challenges facing the village.

Tackling open defecation in communities is a starting point for improved health. Ensuring the drinking water sources are clean is another. USAID works with local artisans in communities like Anga to repair or rehabilitate artesian drilling, such as this one, as an incentive to become ODF-certified. Photo Credit: CARE Mali

Tackling open defecation in communities is a starting point for improved health. Ensuring the drinking water sources are clean is another. USAID works with local artisans in communities like Anga to repair or rehabilitate artesian drilling, such as this one, as an incentive to become ODF-certified. Photo Credit: CARE Mali

Only three latrines serve many families, so more than half of the people are practicing open defecation; the water point no longer functions, so most families are pulling dirty water from the river; many of the infants and young children are not benefitting from exclusive breastfeeding or a diversified diet, so they are malnourished.

Holding a glass of clear water and pointing to feces on the ground, the facilitators paint a clear picture of the health risks associated with leaving feces in the open — contaminated drinking sources, diarrheal disease, and poor outcomes for children and their families.

Their objective: to trigger a sense of disgust, a determination in the community to control their own health and well-being, and to set in motion plans and solutions to create open defecation free (ODF) communities through a process known as community-led total sanitation (CLTS).

Read the complete article.

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