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.
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