Latrine is a game changer on farms where the lack of a proper toilet used to cause a variety of illnesses, many of them potentially fatal.

By William Foreman (Medium) |

Germama, Ethiopia — Lomi Dechasa remembers when women in her Ethiopian village were only allowed to urinate and defecate twice a day — before sunrise and after sunset. Going during the daytime was taboo for females.

“If a man saw you doing your business during the day, you would become a laughing stock. They would sing songs ridiculing you. It was painful,” said Lomi, standing in the muddy courtyard of her home on a farm growing wheat and teff a two-hour drive outside the capital, Addis Ababa.

It was easy to spot women relieving themselves because there were no private toilets. They had to squat in the farm fields.

But those days are over for Lomi because her household is a proud owner of a new pit latrine. It’s nothing fancy. Just a small outhouse made of rough-hewn planks of wood. Gaps between the boards are filled in with a mixture of mud, straw and cow dung. A stone slab with a hole makes up the floor. A thick sheet of plastic serves as the roof.

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With a big smile, Lomi eagerly showed off the latrine. The highlight of her tour was when she pointed to a yellow plastic jug filled with water hanging near the door. She pulled a stopper out of the jug and a stream of water shot out. She took a chunk of pink soap wedged between the boards on the latrine’s wall, splashed water on her hands and washed them.

A pit latrine seems like a simple thing. But it’s a game changer on farms where the lack of a proper toilet used to cause a variety of illnesses, many of them potentially fatal.

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