A six-year journey to owning a private latrine: the Koskeis' story
For many households in the rural areas of Kericho County, constructing a private latrine is almost never a priority. After all there are family and neighbours with latrines that could be shared! This is always the case until the good graces of latrine owners ran out.
Meet Evaline Koskei, a 37-year-old resident of Sinonin Village, Kiptome Sub location, married to Reuben Koskei for over 20 years. Together, they have been blessed with four children. Six years ago, the family relocated to Sinonin Village. Today, they live in a small homestead, surrounded by neighbouring families, like a typical kipsigis community.
For the past six years, the Koskei family did not have a latrine of their own. All six members were sharing in the latrine of Reuben’s brother.
Probed on why they did not have their own latrine, Evaline was quick to respond. She explained that competing priorities hindered the family’s acquisition of a latrine. At the time they relocated, they had to first get their main house in order, construct a kitchen, then attend to the schooling requirements of their first-born daughter. After all, what is more important than ensuring that one’s daughter attends high school? In addition, during that period, Evaline suffered from severe malaria, and had to be admitted for two months at the Litein District hospital.
Construction of the latrine only became a priority when Reuben’s brother locked his latrine on claims that Reuben’s family members were dirtying the toilet. Feeling that there was no other option, Reuben’s family settled in using the latrine of his other brother – a latrine located 800 meters away from their homestead. Use of the latrine during critical moments was almost impossible. In most instances, the family openly defecated around their homestead.
After four months, the second brother’s latrine was locked… again! This compelled the family to search for a new shared latrine – a neighbour’s latrine, which stood three blocks away.
The process of constructing their own latrine had begun in May 2018 after Susan, the Public Health Officer (PHO) from Belgut ward, visited the household during a door-to-door follow up. The village had been reached through behaviour change campaigns in the Sub location, under the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Results Programme (SSH4A RP). After receiving five visits from the PHO and SSH4A RP’s Community-Based Promoter, during which the they were introduced to the health benefits of good sanitation, the family finally decided to construct their own latrine. The cost of construction was approximately US$ 30.
The shame of using other households’ latrines (and later on, being barred from their use), and the shame of not welcoming visitors to their home (due to the absence of a latrine) were major push factors behind the construction of their own latrine.
Today, the couple is overjoyed to be owners of a private latrine. At one point, they hope to be able to purchase an improved latrine, i.e., cemented with brick walls.
After enduring six long years of moving from one shared latrine to another, Evaline urges everyone who doesn’t have latrines to construct one.
Contributor: Judy Muriu (SSH4A RP WASH Consultant)
Photo: (banner) Evaline Koskei sitting comfortably in front of her house, with the family's private toilet pictured on left.