In rural Sierra Leone, toilet access is dismal, where only 13 percent of people have access to a shared facility. A lack of sanitation has many effects on the health of communities. When there isn’t access to toilets and handwashing stations, water and food become easily contaminated, which contributes to community wide illnesses and increased mortality rates. This is especially true for children; diarrheal disease is associated with 18 percent of deaths of those under the age of five in Sierra Leone (WHO 2014). Both communities of Makka and Madina have voted for their priority project with OneVillage Partners to be new toilet facilities and locally-sourced handwashing stations to improve the health of their home, strengthen their resilience, and mitigate the spread of the disease.
The construction of 68 toilet facilities and locally-sourced handwashing stations will improve the health of the entire communities. This project is expected to benefit 2,721 people and through partnership and collaboration with all parties, we will be able to provide our target of a 100 percent access to improved toilet facilities in Makka and Madina.
Meet a couple of the volunteer leaders who will be implementing the project. They are essential to highlighting the needs of the community, transforming these needs into executable projects, and then mobilizing people and securing resources for implementation.
Salaymatu Mohamed – Madina
In Salaymatu Mohamed’s community of Madina, there are just 25 toilets to be shared among the 1,683 people. Salaymatu is one of the women selected to be part of the community volunteer team to lead her village in implementing their toilet facilities project. Understanding of the importance of sanitation has been heightened since the Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014, so it was not a surprise that the community designed a project to improve access to toilet facilities. Although Salaymatu is illiterate, she has proven to be an extraordinary leader, garnering the admiration of all those she works with. Salaymatu is playing a vital role in developing her community. She, along with her fellow volunteers, is improving the health of Madina by using her interpersonal skills and OneVillage Partners’ training to mobilize community members and secure resources for the upcoming project.
Lahai Amara – Makka
Lahai Amara, like many in Makka, is a farmer who intimately understands the challenges and needs in his village. During the preliminary phases of OneVillage Partners’ involvement in Makka, Lahai was selected to be a member of the community volunteer team. In his home of Makka, the community aims to construct 31 toilet facilities to be able to increase their facilities coverage from 20 percent to 100 percent for 1,118 people. Lahai has become a leading figure within the volunteer group, demonstrating at all times his enthusiasm and energy for the development of his beloved community. In his capacity as a OneVillage Partners volunteer, Lahai will also be educating his fellow community members on the importance of handwashing and encouraging the use of handwashing stations.
Effective handwashing can drastically reduce diarrheal disease, yet almost no households in Sierra Leone have handwashing stations. Together with toilet facilities and handwashing station construction, people like Lahai will be actively contributing to the improved wellbeing of the community of Makka.