Tag Archives: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: plan for sanitation rests with community

Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is not always a success. The IPS article below tells about a peri-urban community in Sierra Leone where a CLTS programme failed because the community had wrongly assumed that it would receive a subsidy to build improved latrines.


Freetown. Lying forgotten in the bush somewhere is a sign declaring “Ogoo Farm is an open defecation-free community.”

This peri-urban community of roughly 3000 people was one of the villages where UNICEF and the Sierra Leone ministry of health implemented the pilot phase of a Community-Led Total Sanitation Programme in 2008.

The programme trains communities on the dangers of open defecation – which contaminates streams and other water sources – and mobilises action to end the practice.

]…] But the gear pushing the programme forward in Ogoo Farm, 40 kilometres from the Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, appears to have become stuck in reverse. The majority of community residents still head for a quiet spot in the bush to empty their bowels.

“The project is simply not working properly,” Bai Kabia, the Ogoo Farm headman told IPS. He explained that initially the villagers were all thrilled with the idea of keeping their village hygienic.

“The sensitisation was dramatic. We realised that the idea of using the bush and streams in our village as toilet was bad and detrimental to the health of the whole village and we agreed to start building toilets,” Kabia explained.

He said that they dug 70 pit latrines around the village, each with a screen made of tarpaulin or nylon rice bags to shield a user from view.

The toilets were not an unqualified success. Ogoo farm’s women were among the first to abandon using them.

“These makeshift toilets are not very private,” Ramatu Kamara complained. “The heat that comes up these holes are unbearable when we stoop to use them. Moreover some of us have had infections using these toilets.”

There was worse to come. “When the rains came, the tarpaulin covering was destroyed. We also discovered that the pits were unsafe as the dirt around it was collapsing because we did not use iron rods to build the pit, we used sticks and these rot during the rain,” Kabia said.

“The holes even flooded and brought up everything we had sent down in them.”

Kabia said that they invited UNICEF and the health ministry to a meeting and told them about the problems.

“We suggested that they help us build proper toilets. We have offered to make mud blocks and we want them to give us corrugated iron sheets to (make a) roof. They promised that they would source funding for that but up till now nothing has been done.”

But Thomas Amara, the acting manager of environmental health in the ministry of health and sanitation told IPS that this is not how the sanitation programme works.

“What the project does is to trigger the community to take action against open defecation. We get them to see vividly that open defecation is bad for the community as it can contaminate their water source and thus lead to diseases including diarrhoea,” said Amara.

Arnold Cole, UNICEF’s water and sanitation health specialist for Sierra Leone, confirmed that the programme does not provide any subsidy whatsoever to communities.

“We encourage self empowerment.” Cole said. UNICEF is providing finance and technical support to more than 30 NGOs and six districts authorities to take the programme of awareness and mobilisation all over the country.

Cole claimed that Ogoo Farm was an exception in a programme that is succeeding in other parts of the country; alongside the health ministry, they have identified enthusiastic locals they refer to as “natural leaders” who then go into other villages and towns and spread the message.

The health ministry’s Amara said that in some rural villages in Port Loko, Kenema and Moyamba, the programme has been embraced so fervently that by-laws against open defecation have been passed, with heavy fines for defaulters.

“They also have been ‘scaling up’, building better and permanent toilets with their own monies,” said Amara.

One difference, he noted, is that villagers in the provinces usually own the houses they live in. They are more ready to bear the cost of building improvements like toilets than those in communities close to urban areas, such as Ogoo Farm, where most residents are tenants who look to their landlords to build permanent toilets.

Ogoo Farm headman Bai Kabia agreed, “They do not want to take responsibility for anything and as soon as they found out the project is being facilitated by NGOs – especially big organisations like UNICEF – they thought that there should be money for everything.”

And so it was that the “open defecation-free” sign was uprooted just two months after it was planted. “We do not want to live a lie, (open defecation) is still here,” the village headman sighed.

However Kabia revealed that the Farmers’ Association in their community has promised to build proper public toilets in different locations in the Community as part of their social responsibility.

The headman said he is also encouraging the community people, tenants as well as landlords to build toilets for their houses and that new house constructions will not be approved if the plan does not include toilet construction.

Source: Mohamed Fofanah, IPS, 01 Apr 2010

UNICEF – Improving hygiene through ‘school-led total sanitation’ in Sierra Leone

PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone, 1 July 2009 – Practicing good hygiene is anything but a chore for the children of E.M. Primary School in Laya, in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone.

“We learn about good hygiene through games and sports,” says Fatmata, 12, a proud member of the School Health Club. “It’s a lot of fun, but we also have a serious responsibility to pass these messages on to our families and friends.”

Before the School Health Club members and their teachers got involved, infectious diseases caused by poor sanitation had been rife in Laya. Now, thanks to the club’s efforts, the majority of families in the surrounding villages have access to a latrine.

Children as agents of change

The club, which meets twice a week, is supported by UNICEF and a local non-governmental organization. Its goal is to promote the construction and use of latrines in Port Loko.

As an example of a School-led Total Sanitation (SLTS) programme, the club empowers children to be the agents of change within their communities by encouraging local families to construct latrines and end the practice of open defecation.

Fatmata and her family are in one of the households that took action as a result of the SLTS programme. Following the death of Fatmata’s father, life for her family was difficult. With nine children to support, her mother had little money available to spend on sanitation supplies. Due to a lack of facilities, the entire family was required to practice open defecation in the surrounding bush.

“I used to be so afraid of going to the toilet, especially because of the snakes,” explained Fatmata.

The introduction of SLTS to Laya encouraged Fatmata’s mother to make a change. Earlier this year, with help from her neighbours, she began to construct a latrine using local materials. The latrine is now complete and the family uses it on a daily basis.

Keeping children healthy and educated

UNICEF believes that working with schoolchildren is one of the most effective methods of promoting good hygiene and sanitation practices across communities. And in Sierra Leone, such interventions are greatly needed.

Communicable diseases, such as diarrhoea, also cause many school-age children to regularly miss school. Families living on limited finances are further strained when these diseases require costly medical treatments.

UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that SLTS, combined with other health and education interventions, enables children like Fatmata to remain healthy and continue their education.

Source – UNICEF

Sierra Leone – A UNICEF CORD Community led Total Sanitation project

A UNICEF/ CORD Sierra Leone Community Led Total Sanitation Project (CLTS) have conducted three sets of experience sharing training workshops for 98 Natural Leaders in Niawa, Lower Bambara, Small Bo and Nongowa Chiefdoms in the Kenema District.

The programme was officially opened in the Chiefdom headquarter town of Panguma in the Lower Bambara by Chief Patrick Komeh one of the section Chiefs of Lower Bambara Chiefdom and was graced by various chiefdom stakeholders from the four selected chiefdoms in the Kenema District.

Chief Komeh in his opening remarks praised the effort of UNICEF/ CORD Sierra Leone for their timely intervention in training their people for action toward sanitation which he said is a very big move in promoting health not only in the chiefdoms but the entire district.

Chief Komeh promised on behalf of the Paramount Chief of Lower Bambara Chiefdom PC Almamy Farma who was absent and other chiefs of Lower Bambara Chiefdom to give their fullest support in seeing that the project succeeds.

The CLTS Manager Vandi Dauda who organized the workshop for the selected chiefdoms commended the chiefs for attending the workshop. He formally handed over the project to the chiefs and urged them to play leading roles in seeing that it succeeds.

A section chief Nalo Samuka of Komende Station, Amadu Sama of Jumu Kafabu, Lahai Keifala of Kagbado Jaygbla who attended the workshop on behalf of other chiefs in the Nongowa chiefdom commended UNICEF/CORD Sierra Leone, CLTS project, saying that the project came for alleviating the plight of their people by challenging them to build toilets for themselves and inducing them to provide basic sanitation requirements in their communities.

The town chief Moray Turay complained about the features of all their communities where the project is being implemented and appealed to the entire town chief and the towns concern to take the work seriously saying that health is wealth.

In his statement the CLTS Health District Supervisor for CORD Sierra Leone Moses Fatorma explained how the communities were selected and challenged all participants to work hard and see that their communities are open defecation free. He referred to the Natural Leaders as activist and enthusiast who should contribute positively and save their led CLTS project in their chiefdoms.

Source – Awoko

Sierra Leone: Sidiki Mansark “Water is life and we want to bring it to the people”

Mansark lives and works in Kroo bay slum, in the centre of the capital Freetown, home to 13,000 people, which has two working public water taps. Kroo Bay is littered with rubbish and sewage – many people use the rubbish to reclaim land on which to build ramshackle houses.

There are no pit latrines in the slum; most residents use the beach or one of the few drop toilets constructed on it. On discovering a natural spring in the slum, Mansark decided to set up a youth cooperative, the Water Sie Boys, to run a public shower for slum-dwellers. [Water Sie Boys received US$9,000 to set up the community shower from the government Youth Employment Secretariat (YES)] . Set up in 2008, YES, supported by the UN Development Programme, has established a fund of US$700,000 to distribute grants and micro-finance loans to youth groups.

[…] “We used to have a machine to pump water into our containers, but it has been broken for months now, so now we fill up the tanks by hand.

“If you want a shower, you pay 3 US cents (100 Leones) and you can take five minutes, or we will give you a bucket of water. People need soap so we started to make it [soap] too.

“We are 20 working here – but I want to increase the number. We get by – every now and then we have to put in $1.50 to sustain our business. We want to expand it to other zones in the slum. We could employ 40 people because we always have enough customers.

“We don’t have roofing materials and we don’t have money to plaster our showers. The women’s shower is the worst – it is mouldy – but it is not their fault. None of us are trained. I did not know anything about plumbing but now I have learned. There is one plumber in the slum who helps us.

“Now everyone comes to us when they want a shower. We are not rich but water is life, and we want to bring it to the people.

SourceIRIN, 24 Mar 2009 ; IRIN, 24 Mar 2009

Sierra Leone: Communities take charge, one latrine at a time

Kadiatou Samura proudly showed her pristine new toilet to her Member of Parliament, the leader of her chiefdom and the head of the UN Children’s Fund’s [UNICEF] district office as they toured her village, Kamayintin, in Sierra Leone’s Bombali district. The village was celebrating its status as the chiefdom’s fifth to be declared “free of open defecation”.

The toilet was elegant and simple: an earth floor, walls built from local wood, topped by a conical straw roof. Samura built it herself with the help of 12 other families in the village, who together built 17 toilets in a month. “This toilet has saved us from sickness. Fewer of our children are falling ill from diarrhoea now,” Samura told IRIN.

[…] Just a third of rural Sierra Leoneans have access to clean water and to sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF’s Victor Kinyanjui, water, sanitation, hygiene manager. Diarrhoea is the third leading cause of death in children under five in Sierra Leone.

[…] Reversing old aid models whereby outsiders pay for and construct expensive latrines that villagers cannot afford to maintain, in this approach villagers choose their own latrine models, find the materials locally, raise money if necessary and then build them, said Kinyanjui. Sanitation experts guide villagers on the types of toilet to suit their topography and budget. Samura’s latrine – assuming the free labour of her fellow villagers – cost her nothing, whereas a standard modern latrine can cost up to US$100, according to Kinyanjui – equivalent to a third of annual earnings for most Sierra Leoneans.

[…] UNICEF’s aims to roll it out across 10 districts of the country by 2010, with ActionAid, Plan International, Oxfam, and GOAL, implementing the project.

[…] Mohamed Sankoh, programme manager for ActionAid in Bombali district, told IRIN: “Before, communities realised they were – excuse my language – eating each other’s [faeces] and it made them feel ashamed. Now we have seen a great change in people here, in the way they think”

Not all are convinced by the new approach. District councillor Eric Ceesay prefers the “safe, clean, concrete toilets” that international agencies – including UNICEF – used to build. Some 560 of these have been built over the years, and the district needs a further 1,500, Ceesay said. The community-led facilities are “inconveniently located, they have poor ventilation, and…they attract snakes.”

[…] To reinforce [sustainability of safe hygiene practices], local chiefs should resurrect now moribund local by-laws giving health inspectors the right to assess households’ hygiene levels and to exact fines of up to 16 US cents when they are sub-standard, Serra Limba Chief Kandeh Luseine said.

See also:  CLTS – Sierra Leone

Source: IRIN, 24 Feb 2009

Sierra Leone: Kenema Hospital Undergoes Toilet Rehab

The Kenema district development mission, a group of Sierra Leoneans based in the United States, has commenced the rehabilitation of the deplorable state of the toilets at the government hospital following persistent cries from patients and members of the public for the facilities to be improved.

Chairman of the group, Francis Samba said as Sierra Leoneans and natives of the district, it should be their responsibility to always come to the aid of the community, especially on developmental matters.

He said the toilet condition, as reported by the hospital management, has been appalling, thus making it compelling for them to intervene and solve the problem.

“We are currently residing in the USA but we are very concern about the health of our people and the community. The toilet project, which is worth about Le7 million [US$ 109,000], will greatly benefit members of the hospital; we will continue to help whenever the need arises,” he said.

[…] Medical superintendent, Samuel Sesay […] assured the group that the toilets would be properly maintained.

Source: Abrahim Abdulai, Concord Times / allAfrica.com, 27 Jan 2009

Sierra Leone – Plan Observes ‘Kaka Free Environment’

Sixteen latrines have been constructed using local materials and with the effective involvement and participation of children and women.

Ward councilor Sulaiman Sesay commended the initiative of community involvement and participation in development activities as ‘a worthy venture and one that is sustainable’.

He commended Plan Sierra Leone for the strategy and encouraged other communities to emulate the ‘good example of Robareh’.

Country director Plan Sierra Leone Fadimata Alainchar said Plan is a child-centred community development organization working assiduously in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals.

She told the community that Plan works with the vision of a ‘world in which all children realize their full potential in societies which respect people’s rights and dignity’.

Madam Fadimata referred to health as a right issue and congratulated the Robareh community for making the environment healthy for children, noting that a community that is healthy is wealthy.

The country director expressed gratitude to UKNO DfID for the support to the country office to facilitate such a ‘laudable process’.

Paulos spoke about three facts about development initiatives in any community. He stated peace, clean environment and good leadership as strong ‘movers of development in every society’.

He expressed appreciation for the Robareh community for ‘the effort in keeping your environment clean’, which situation he attributed to peace and good leadership in the community.

He thanked partners for their support in achieving a Kaka-free community.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Paramount Chief of Koya chiefdom, Kompa Bomboli commended Plan for the good work in his chiefdom.

He said Plan is a reliable organization whose commitment to development and health was remarkable.

PC Bomboli called on his people to “hold fast on the new health initiative (CLTS) and trigger other communities within the chiefdom so as to make their communities clean and safe.”

A presentation of gifts to the community and a cultural performance climaxed the celebration.

About ten of such celebrations have already been done in the four programme units of Moyamba, Kailahun and Port Loko with a good number lined up for triggering.

Source – Concord Times

Can S Leone flush away corruption?

It is not very often that a toilet sparks political debate.
And it is even rarer for a VIP ministerial toilet to be opened up for journalistic inspection.

But a little over a year ago I began a journey in a ministerial bathroom that would take me down an unusual path of inquiry – and end up as a report on corruption for BBC News.

It all began in late 2007 when I travelled to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, for the inauguration of the then-recently elected president, Ernest Bai Koroma.

Read more: Mark Doyle, BBC, 23 Jan 2008

Sierra Leone: As Community Led Total Sanitation kicks off Open defecation in middle of Kenema City

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation Health Education Division has held a one day sensitization meeting with Paramount Chiefs, teachers and other opinion leaders in the eastern region at the Kenema District Council office along Maxwell Khobe Street in Kenema.

The programme coordinator at the education division Samuel Sesay in his statement said the ministry is aiming at introducing the concept of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) across the country.  (…)

Read all Awako.org

See also: Mohamed Vandi, Sierra Leone: No More Open Defecation!, Concord Times (Freetown) / allAfrica.com, 11 Aug 2008

Sierra Leone – Rampant disease washes in with flood water

With malaria, diarrhea and vomiting, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, worm infestations, scabies, abscesses, sores, and boils all common ailments in the Kroo Bay community of the Sierra Leone capital Freetown local medical official Amadou Kandor says it’s little wonder 35 is an average life expectancy for the slum’s 6,000 inhabitants. Kroo Bay, one of the poorest areas in the centre of Sierra Leone’s beachfront capital Freetown, is a squalid slum so littered with rubbish that the paths are made of compressed plastic, cans and toothpaste tubes, and patches of bare orange earth are a rare sight.

Swarms of mosquitoes breed in pools of slimy green water, pigs and children play together in mounds of refuse. In one of the two rivers that flows past the densely packed tin and wood shelters, a bloated dead dog bobs on the surface just upstream of where people wash their clothes.

More – Environmental Expert