Implementers of the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) project in Phalombe District say they will continue empowering community members with the knowledge and skills necessary for the attainment of a better sanitation status.

Project Coordinator for Concern Universal, a Plan Malawi partner on the GSF programme, Blessings Gondwe was commenting on his organisation’s role when a village is declared open defection free.

“We continue interacting with the communities to ensure that they don’t revert to open defecation,” said Gondwe.

Among the community empowerment tactics that Concern Universal has employed in Traditional Authority Kaduya is the training of masons to produce latrine drop-hole covers.

“In addition to the masons involved in the production of slabs, in each village we have trained a mason who produces drop-hole covers for sale. These drop-hole cover makers are identified by traditional leaders,” Gondwe said.

One of the masons trained under the project is 27 year old carpenter Kesten Mutaga of Mwangala village who says diversified into the drop-hole cover business as part of his contribution towards efforts to improve the sanitation situation in his village.

“I was approached by our village head to be part of the training of masons who would be providing drop-hole covers. I accepted because as a community we were frequently hit by diarrheal diseases and the introduction of the project in the village was a great relief to us,” explained Mutaga.

The one day training organised by the GSF partner in Phalombe District among other things exposed the masons to different types of drop-hole covers.
Mutaga has so far sold over 170 drop-hole covers, each going at about half a US dollar.

“I don’t do it for profit but simply to help serve the village,” said Mutaga who indicated sometimes community members get the drop-hole covers on loan if they don’t have enough money.

Drop-hole covers are an essential element in preventing the use of conventional latrines in Malawi. The facilities cut dangerous links between flies and the outside world where contamination from the latrine causes deadly diseases.

In the area of Traditional Authority Kaduya which has 75 villages, the GSF project is being implemented in 62 villages, suggesting that there are also 62 masons providing sanitation facilities in form of drop-hole covers in the area.

With a population of 57, 000 people, the area of Traditional Authority Kaduya in which Mwangala village is located, has 13,000 and 400 basic and improved latrines, respectively, and slightly over 13,000 drop-hole covers, according to the latest data from the Malawi GSF programme Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist’s desk.