17 September 2012
Fatalities caused by cholera and diarrhoea in Sierra Leone have been slashed as a result of the contribution of a two-year Tearfund sanitation programme.
The village of Sarhun in Pujehun state is one of 20 communities which are being transformed due to the work of our partner, the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone (EFSL).
Two years ago, there’s wasn’t a single toilet in the village which is home to nearly 400 people and nor was there a clean water source. Instead people relied on a nearby river for their water, which was also used by livestock and as a community bathing area.
Poor sanitation and lack of clean water led to frequent cases of stomach illnesses which in some cases claimed lives, particularly children.
In 2010, EFSL staff went to Sarhun to work with villagers to address these issues. They started by engaging the community and helping residents understand how water and sanitation problems were affecting their lives.
This led to a new resolve in the village to stop old habits of going to the toilet in the surrounding bushes.
EFSL then showed people how they could build their own basic toilets, using locally available materials.
One of the new toilets helping to cut disease in the Sierra Leone village of Sarhun. Photo: Liu Liu/Tearfund
There are now 42 toilets in Sarhun, nearly one for every family in the village, which is seven hours south east of the capital Freetown by road.
Lack of clean water has been addressed through EFSL’s intervention by digging a well and installing a hand pump. Water users contribute funds regularly to pay for the maintenance of the well.
Our partner has followed up its water and sanitation work with projects to improve food production. Diets have been enriched by new vegetables being grown, boosted by the introduction of composting.
The risk of malaria has been reduced by villagers too, with the clearing of dirty ponds around them which had been breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There’s also increased use of treated mosquito nets.
Liu Liu, Tearfund’s Disaster Management and Environmental Sustainability Officer, said, ‘All of these amazing transformations can’t come about without local Christian organisations like EFSL.
‘More importantly, the local toilets cannot be built without local communities being mobilised and committed to improve their own lives.
‘Community mobilisation and engagement is the solid foundation for any transformation and this is just one of 20 villages EFSL is working with.’
Villagers in Sarhun are now using and maintaining this new well. Photo: Liu Liu/Tearfund