Assin Afaw, CENTRAL REGION, 3 March 2017 - Emmanuel, Isaac and Prince are best friends. Emmanuel and Isaac are 15 years old and Prince is 16 and they attend Assin Nyankumasi District Assembly School.
Emmanuel went to over to Isaac and Prince’s one afternoon after his homework was finished but they weren’t home. He inquired of them from their mother and she told him they had gone to the forest nearby to get some wood.
“What for?” He thought to himself, but did want to ask any more questions. He would talk to them when they returned.
After a couple of hours had gone by, he still hadn’t heard from them. They normally would have come over to his house when they returned. So, he strolled over again.
He got to the backyard of their house and met the two, busily mixing clay and cutting bamboo sticks. Behind them were two giant holes dug in the ground.
“What are you doing?” He asked.
“Didn’t your father tell you? We’re building our own latrine. When are you starting yours?” Isaac asked.
“Oh, my father knows? How come?” Emmanuel was surprised now.
“You should ask him.” Prince urged him.
So, Emmanuel, seeing that the two were obviously busy and had no time to chat, starting walking towards his house.
His father was sitting outside the house taking some air when he asked him about the latrine.
“Oh yes, good you mentioned it. We had some visitors the other day. The Assembly man came with them. They encouraged us to build our own household latrines.”
“Ok, so when are we getting started with our ours?” He was excited.
“We will. I just don’t have time now.” His father concluded and headed back inside.
Emmanuel waited for about a week, hoping his father would bring up the subject so they could start the project together but it never came. He noticed that his friends had finished theirs and were feeling quite proud of themselves!
He decided to start by himself. He went to Isaac for some information on the materials needed and steps to take. He dug two holes just behind their house. When that was finished, he went into the forest and cut thick barks of the teak tree to use as the walls. After two weeks, he had erected the structure all by himself!
Now he had to roof it. With the help of Isaac and Prince, he cut some palm branches and covered finished it off with old roofing sheets and polythene material.
Finally! It took him 18 days but he did it. Due to his efforts, his family was the second to own their own latrine.
“I am happy I did it! I live with seven other people and our surrounding weren’t neat at all because we were all defecating in the open. It’s not a perfect structure,but it will do for now.” Emmanuel said proudly while showing us his work.
Assin Afaw is the first community in Central Region to be officially declared as open defecation free in October 2016. Emmanuel is proud to know that his efforts are part of process to this achievement.
The local public latrine the community was using was broken down and at some point, invaded by snakes. The community resorted to defecation in the open until a triggering session was held at the community center.
Funding from Global Affairs Canada enables UNICEF and the District Assembly’s Environmental Health Unit to organize triggering events in the communities. Through these gatherings members of communities are educated and encouraged to stop defecating in the open and construct their household latrines. All these are targeted at improving the health and quality of life.