When World Renew started working in Maideua the streets were often unsanitary.
“Since there were no toilets for people to use, people would often defecate in the open—with pigs and dogs following close behind,” explained 40-year-old resident Mrs. Ohd.
With such poor sanitation, residents were at great risk for spreading diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, and worms. This danger was multiplied by the lack of clean water in the village. The river was the main water source, but it was a long, tiring walk away. Also, in the rainy season the river was often too muddy to use, which meant people had to go to a very small stream to fetch water.
“We used to go get just two bottles at a time, so we had to go four or five times a day,” remembers Mrs. Ohd. That adds up to almost two hours a day spent collecting water.
Through World Renew’s local partner, the Concern and Unity For Development (HHP), a health team began working with community members to help them understand the importance of good sanitation and develop a plan for achieving it.
As a first step, families agreed to build latrines, and were given small subsidies to help offset the costs. Residents also dug channels and grey water pits so that the water could run in the rainy season. After recognizing the health risks of trash and pig manure, village members built fences to help with the pig issue. People also joined together to clear all of the trash and manure out of the village—which took three days of hard work. Perhaps the biggest change of all, however, was that the villagers worked together to build a gravity-fed water system. This brought clean water from a source to the community without the use of a pump.
Today, the conditions in Maideua are much healthier. Mrs. Ohd is just one of the members rejoicing over this great gift.
“Now we don’t have to go far away for water. We use more water than before because it’s right there,” she said. “Before when we wanted to wash our hands we had to save water, I’d just get my hands wet and wipe them on my skirt—I won’t do that anymore. We have a latrine too, so we don’t have to go out in the rain to the forest.”
The local health office has recognized the efforts of this community by declaring Maideau a “Model Health Village”. Village Health Volunteers and a Village Health Committee are being trained to follow up this work and disseminate important health messages in the community so these positive changes are sustained and families are healthier—both now and in the years to come.