Notes to broadcasters
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The need for improved sanitation in rural areas is enormous. In many countries, particularly in rural areas, diseases connected to faeces and diseases linked to unsanitary practices represent a significant proportion of deaths and illness. The mismanagement of faeces, unsanitary practices, and people who are misinformed on hygiene and sanitation practices are the main causes of this situation.
However, hope remains. The village of Kantola, located 15 kilometres from Fana, in south central Mali, represents a good example of simple and innovative practices that deserve to be shared more widely. In this script, a radio host interviews community members and others who were involved in the construction and use of ECOSAN latrines in Kantola, with support from CREPA, an organization which works in 17 countries in West and Central Africa.
This script is based on actual interview, conducted with villagers in Mali. To produce this script on your station, you might choose to use voice actors to represent the villagers, and change the wording in the script to make it suitable for your local situation. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interview, and that the program has been adapted for your local audience, but is based on real interviews.
Dramane Tounkara: program host
Yaba Sacko: a Kantola farmer
Baninkono Traoré: Kantola village chief
Bakary Bagayogo: agricultural technician, Fana Chamber of Agriculture
Ibrahim Maiga Sadio: senior technician in civil engineering and mining at the Regional Center for low cost Potable Water and Sanitation (CREPA) office in Mali
Aissata Daba Traoré: midwife at the Fana Health Centre
Music (10 seconds)
Today’s Faso Ntuloma program (Editor’s note: Faso Ntuloma means “the pillar of community development” in the national language Bamanankan) talks about ECOSAN latrines. In recent years, rural communities in West and Central Africa increasingly use ECOSAN latrines to safely dispose of human waste, and fight against unsanitary practices. Many diseases are caused by mismanagement of faeces, by unsanitary practices, and by people who are misinformed on hygiene and sanitation. ECOSAN latrines not only help create hygienic conditions for disposal of human waste, they also help farmers get fertilizer for their land. To talk about ECOSAN latrines, we invited to our studios today Mr. Baninkono Traoré, the Kantola village chief; Yaba Sacko, a Kantola farmer; Bakary Bagayogo, an agricultural technician with the Fana Chamber of Agriculture; Ibrahim Maiga Sadio, the senior technician in civil engineering and mining at the Regional Center for low cost Potable Water and Sanitation office in Mali, also called CREPA; and Ms. Aissata Daba Traoré, midwife at the Fana Health Centre.
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, thank you for coming. Let’s begin with Mr Baninkono Traoré. There is an old Malian saying: “An elderly person is always better placed to begin to dismember a wildcat shot by hunters.” In other words, the words of an elder always give more credibility to an issue, and can make the community adopt a new technique like the use of faeces as a soil fertilizer. As head of the village, what motivates you to come and speak on this program today?
First, let me introduce you to my village. Kantola was created in 1965. The village’s main activity is agriculture. The population is mainly Sarakolé, Bamanan and Fulani peoples. I’m the chief of the village. It is an honour for myself and my village to be invited by Radio Fanaka, which has been our partner since its beginning.
Mr. Maiga, what is an ECOSAN latrine?
IBRAHIM MAIGA SADIO:
There are different types of ECOSAN latrines, but they are all based on the same principle. Defecation and urination are done in separate holes. Thus, urine and faeces are stored in separate containers to allow proper sanitation, and to reduce odour and flies. After several months, the faecal waste is ready to be reused as a fertilizer in farming or gardening.
But it is not easy for poor farmers to invest in building modern latrines. Mr. Sacko Yaba, you are a farmer – how did you learn about these latrines and how did you build the latrines in Kantola?
First, I want to start by thanking Aissata Daba Traoré. She is a midwife at the Fana Health Centre. Through a partnership between Radio Fanaka and the women of our village, she conducts awareness sessions with the women in the village. The rainy season brings with it lots of diseases, including malaria and especially cholera. It is a nightmare for our village. But four years ago, after a public debate on Radio Fanaka, we learned that the source of our health problems was poor sanitation. Since then, Aissata comes to our village once a month. She talks about the benefits of the ECOSAN latrines. The total cost for building each ECOSAN latrine was 150,000 FCFA (Editor’s note: about $335 US dollars or 228 Euros). We helped provide the labour, and the rest of the funds were supplied by the ECOSAN project.
Madam midwife, how serious are these diseases in the rainy season?
AISSATA DABA TRAORE:
We have noticed that, each year in this village, there are one or more outbreaks of diarrhea and malaria. We see cases of diarrhea and constant vomiting. These diseases are more frequent among children. There are also some cases of fever. We came up with the idea of changing people’s behaviour through radio in order to solve the health problems in the village.
In your opinion, what were the causes of these diseases?
AISSATA DABA TRAORE:
All of them are mainly caused by using unclean water and by poor sanitation.
What causes these diseases to appear in the village of Kantola?
AISSATA DABA TRAORE:
During the rainy season in Kantola, people let the grass grow everywhere in the village, the wells are not protected, and animals are kept in the house. Troughs for animals are located exactly where women clean the dishes and do the laundry; some women let their children defecate on the floor. There are traditional toilets in the village, but these are reserved for adults only. Women also use water from ponds where stagnant rainwater accumulates in the rainy season. These practices contribute to the spread of the diseases we mentioned.
Music (10 seconds)
Mr Sacko Yaba, we now know the reasons that led you to work with the Fana Health Centre. Please tell us about building the latrines. After the midwife told you about them, how did you build one?
After the information session, the village women told the village chief about the latrines. He assembled the entire village council. The decision was made to send a representative to Fana to meet with the latrine manufacturers. The mission was given to me because I am the village representative. In Fana, the midwife showed me the office of the latrine manufacturer. They welcomed me and accepted the request of the village. The manufacturer explained that they must come to the village to hold a meeting with the entire village. After that meeting, they agreed to build a sample latrine, for which the village would pay 25% of the usual cost, in kind or in cash. The village would only need to pay 25% of the usual cost for any additional ECOSAN latrines.
Mr. Maiga, how are the ECOSAN latrines built?
IBRAHIM MAIGA SADIO:
The latrines are made from bricks, and have a concrete floor for cleanliness. They have separate holes for solid and liquid waste. ECOSAN latrines usually have two pits of equal size which store faeces and paper. Urine and the water used for anal cleansing are directed to a storage tank outside the latrine. The latrine can be built entirely above ground or partly buried. Only one of the pits for faeces and paper is used at a time. Ashes and dirt are always added to the faeces when it is deposited in the pit.
Behind each pit, there is an opening to remove the digested faecal waste that is ready to use as fertilizer. This opening is sealed with a concrete slab and masonry joints. When the pit is 2/3 filled, we stop using the pit, fill it in with sand and dry earth and close the hole above it. Then, after several months, we break the masonry joints, empty the pit and remove the manure. People can continue to use the latrine for defecation during this time – they simply use the hole above the second pit. The liquid waste can be gathered from the storage tank, diluted and used as fertilizer.
Mr. Bakary Bagayogo, what does the Fana Chamber of Agriculture think of the ECOSAN latrines?
Bakary Bagayogo: That’s a good question. At a time when prices for chemical fertilizer are soaring, and when soil fertility decreases every day, fertilization is a guaranteed problem for any farmer. Today, in every family, there must be a latrine. The Fana Chamber of Agriculture visited Yaba Sacko’s maize field in Kantola. We unanimously agreed on the quality of his maize. This is the field in which Yaba said he put manure from the latrines.
Mr Sacko, how do you take the manure out of the storage container?
This was one of the issues that we raised before trying the ECOSAN latrines in our village. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the manure is odourless and is not messy. During the year, we were able to create manure twice, because our family is big. The first time was in May, and the second in December. All you need to do is remove the small window that’s used for closing the latrine, scoop out the manure and put it in a cart. Then, we bring it to the field.
How do you keep the latrines clean?
Women in the family share that task daily. Also, there are weekly village health days where youth and women wash the latrine together. When they are cleaning, they ensure that the cleaning water goes into the urine container and not the pit that stores the faeces.
Have the new practices benefited the village?
Yes, and in more than one way. Diseases have decreased. At night, young people can gather in public spaces without fearing snake bites. Snakes cannot hide inside the ECOSAN latrines. There is joy in our families because women and their husbands get along very well now. Thanks to the radio, we have been able to use new technologies that we usually consider to be reserved for the rich only. These technologies have helped improve our living environment.
What are the strengths and benefits of using an ECOSAN latrine?
IBRAHIM MAIGA SADIO:
There are several advantages. It reduces bad odours. It reduces the number of flies and mosquitoes, which contributes to the fight against diarrhea and malaria. It is built with local long-lasting materials. An ECOSAN latrine is pleasant to look at and easy to maintain. It also offers good quality manure. The manure fertilizes the soil and improves crop yields. The building cost is very reasonable at 150,000 FCFA. This program is funded in west and central Africa by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
The manure is allowed to digest or decompose for five or six months after the pit is closed with masonry. Then, the masonry joint is broken, and the manure is withdrawn from the pit. The urine is stored in containers of 20, 25 or even 50 litre capacity and is sanitized after a few days. We urinate around one or two litres per day. If a family of four people uses a 50 litre container, approximately the equivalent of a week’s worth of urine, this will become very hard to carry. That is why the containers are filled one by one and stored before we use them on agricultural fields. Keeping the urine in containers allows it to maintain a high concentration of nitrogen, which is excellent fertilizer for crops. The urine container has a flexible plastic pipe that is inserted into the urine pit. The pipe should be attached to the bottom of the container to minimize the loss of nitrogen. Faced with the current climate change situation, and the soaring price of inputs, including chemical fertilizers, using natural fertilizers from ECOSAN latrines helps decrease costs and increase income for farmers. The farmers from Kantola, Yolla and Werekela villages have seen their yields improve.
In my years as a radio host, I have rarely seen so much enthusiasm from a village to participate in a radio broadcast. However, every good thing must come to an end. Do you have any closing thoughts?
As village chief, I think the authorities in Mali have to do their best to create opportunities for each family to use local sources of fertilizer instead of subsidized imported fertilizer.
Bakary Bagayogo: If development partners would agree to subsidize this initiative throughout the Fana area, I think nobody will go hungry in Fana. I ask the farmers to invest the money they normally use to purchase farm inputs towards the construction of latrines. This is a long-term investment.
IBRAHIM MAIGA SADIO:
We encourage Radio Fanaka to broadcast and multiply these initiatives.
Music (10 seconds)
Dear listeners, from our guests today, you have just learned about a new technology: ECOSAN latrines. We thank you for tuning in. Nowadays, it is possible for every individual to build an ECOSAN latrine in their house. However, one must not forget that its construction has to follow specific technical standards that require an expert, which can be contacted through CREPA in Fana or by asking Radio Fanaka. Here are the questions of the day:
- Can you name three materials used in the construction of an ECOSAN latrine?
- What are three advantages of ECOSAN latrines?
- How do the people of Kantola village feel about the ECOSAN latrine?
- Name two diseases related to unsanitary water.
- What is the name of the Kantola village chief?
Please send your responses before the next program to (address and telephone or email of the station). Bye for now, and talk to you next week.
Contributed by: Dramane Tounkara, Radio Fanaka Fana, Mali, a Farm Radio International radio partner.
Reviewed by: Alan Etherington, independent consultant in water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, and ex-WaterAid staff.
Thanks to Kadiatou Haidara, WaterAid.