ORBIS to Build and Repair Latrines for Communities

Jul 1, 2014

Local Orbis Worker Making a Difference in Konso

Tadesse Data
Tadesse Data

Orbis' work would not have the powerful impact on improving environmental hygiene without the team of dedicated staff who work within the project communities daily. Tadesse Data manages the Orbis project in Konso, a village located 90km from Arbaminch with a population of 257,000. He works in collaboration with the Konso health office to plan, implement and follow-up the construction of latrines until they are ready for use by the local communities Construction of communal latrines starting from site selection up to the completion of the construction can take 2 to 4 months, during which time Tadesse's commitment is fundamental to the success of the project.

The average number of households using the communal latrine is about 80 which is approximately 480 individuals. This improved sanitation has had long-term significant benefits for the community and the active involvement of communities is central for the project to have a lasting impact. The construction of such latrines demonstrates to the local communities that the use of such facilities could reduce the disease transmission and maintain a clean and healthy environment. Once communities understand the value and benefit of latrine use, they can then construct their own latrine from cheap local materials. Dedicated and experienced staff members like Tadesse encourage the local community to embrace the changes that these latrines bring. In this way your generous donation can reach it's maximum potential.

May 14, 2014

Women's Role in Improving the Environment

Household Pit Latrine
Household Pit Latrine

Traditionally, in rural Ethiopia, the community members go to the woods or fields to defecate. Women in particular are discouraged from defecating or urinating where they could be seen during the day and usually have to wait until the night to relieve themselves.

As part of the implementation of the SAFE strategy, Orbis works to encourage communities to construct household pit latrines. Demonstration latrines are built by Orbis in communities to illustrate the ease with which a latrine can be constructed using materials readily available in the community. 

Often, through Women's Group leaders, it is the women who champion latrine construction in homes and communities. They encourage their husbands and family members to work together to clear land near their homes, to dig pits, to gather local resources, and to build structures to enclose the pits. Latrine structures consist of whatever materials a family have on hand: sticks, mud, tree branches, gourds, plastic sheeting, and so on. Many families construct a hand washing station, also made of local materials, next to the latrine to encourage proper hygiene.

Using a household latrine reduces the population of flies transmitting the bacteria that causes trachoma. The privacy provided by the latrines also allows women the freedom to relieve themselves when they need to during the day and improve their safety as they no longer have to go far from their homes after dark. This helps to address some of the inequalities women face in their homes and communities.

By actively leading the latrine construction movement, women not only help themselves, but serve their communities in the fight against trachoma. 

Feb 11, 2014

Building and Maintaining Community Latrines

Have you ever thought about just how important our ceramic friends can be? ORBIS has been building and maintaining community latrines since 2007. As a pivotal element of the SAFE strategy for trachoma elimination, providing community access to sanitation facilities is a high priority for our staff in Ethiopia. 

Before the intervention of ORBIS, open defecation was common in this part of Ethiopia. With a dense population and poor hygiene facilities at hand, this practice aids the spread of disease and sickness. Building community latrines provides people with basic facilities that help stop the spread of diseases like trachoma. 

In Bonke, southern Ethiopia, ORBIS is working to ensure that local villagers have access to these facilities. In doing so, we are ensuring that trachoma elimination will be achieved. When coupled together with the other elements of the SAFE strategy, we are providing a firm effort to reach our goal where no one is needlessly blinded by this awful disease. 

ORBIS Ireland has been fighting against trachoma in southern Ethiopia for over seven years now. Our goal is to eliminate trachoma from a population of around two million people living in some of the poorest areas of this country. None of our work would be possible without the generous support of people like you. On behalf of all those who will benefit from your continued support, thank you!


May 24, 2013

Building Latrines in Konso

Building Latrines in Konso
Building Latrines in Konso

ORBIS has been working in Konso, southern Ethiopia, for over five years now. On a recent visit to the region, we had a fantastic opportunity to witness the building of a new community latrine. 

Located just off the town's market square, this facility will benefit an estimated 1,000 people per week and serve as a key element of our strategy to improve sanitation facilities in order to combat avoidable blindness in the region. Before ORBIS began construction, open defecation was a common practice in this area. Through building community latrines, ORBIS is inhibiting the spread of the bacteria which causes the blinding eye disease trachoma. 

Providing access to basic sanitation is a priority in our work. We have witnessed the local population's continued willingness to learn about the benefits of good hygiene. In turn, public attitudes towards sanitation are improving; this is key to the success of our work in Ethiopia.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can continue to build and maintain latrines in Konso and beyond. On behalf of all those who directly benefit from your support - Thank You! Please do get in touch if you would like to know more about our work. 


Jan 22, 2013

Improving environment-fighting avoidable blindness

Old latrine no longer in use
Old latrine no longer in use

The importance of building and repairing latrines in schools

On a recent visit to Bonke Woreda in the Gamo Gofa region of southern Ethiopia, we witnessed first-hand the importance of improving the environment in the fight against avoidable blindness.

Bonke is a very remote part of southern Ethiopia which is not easily accessible, particularly during the rainy season. With a population of 167,000 people it is difficult to establish and maintain proper sanitation facilities. As a result, bacteria can spread quickly and trachoma infections are very common. Until recently, open field defecation around the periphery of the villages was a common phenomenon in the area. This caused a huge problem for local schools that typically have around 300 pupils or more.

While in Bonke we visited a school nestled in the hills and surrounded by a number of small villages. We were shown an old latrine made out of reeds which had fallen down and decayed. This latrine was no longer being used by the children as it provided absolutely no privacy.

ORBIS recently built a latrine in the grounds of the school and this one was being used. However, the girls were objecting to using the same latrine as the boys so ORBIS was in the process of funding a second latrine in the school which was being built by a group of local men. The fact that demand exists for a second latrine within the school grounds reflects the changing attitudes amongst the children towards sanitation. This shows very positive progress in the fight against avoidable blindness.

As a result of ORBIS trained teachers and the construction of latrines in schools like the one we visited in Bonke, the practice of open field defecation is greatly reduced.

The changes in the attitudes and practices of the children are resulting in more and more people in the community realising the importance of good personal hygiene and sanitation. With your help ORBIS can fund the building of more latrines in schools and fight the spread of diseases like trachoma.


21st January 2013

New ORBIS funded latrine being built at the school
New ORBIS funded latrine being built at the school


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Orbis Ireland

Sandyford, Dublin, Ireland

Project Leader

Diane Weatherup

Development Manager
Sandyford, Dublin Ireland

Where is this project located?

Map of ORBIS to Build and Repair Latrines for Communities