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Elwak: Working with communities to achieve the SDG 6 on Clean Water & Sanitation


My children were frequently being hospitalized with acute watery diarrhoea and cholera. As the sole breadwinner after my husband’s death in 2016 in a militia attack, the medical expenses were placing a huge strain on my budget. I am vey thankful to the people who came to our village and taught us about the importance and benefits of good sanitation,” says Ijabo Ahmed Hirsi, a resident of Waberi 1 Bulla, Elwak district. 


Ijabo says she never attributed the frequent illnesses in the family to the practice of open defecation practice and poor hand washing habits in her household. She attended Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) mobilization and awareness meetings conducted by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) in partnership with the Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD). With their support a pit latrine was constructed in her homestead.


The challenge of open defecation is equity and dignity and safety, especially for women and girls. Ijabo agrees with this. “For my own privacy, I would wait for night fall or walk long distances whenever I needed to use a toilet. In addition, I did not practice hand washing.”


My six children and I can now access to a pit larine in our own homestead. We also had a hand washing facility with water and soap fitted for us. “My privacy has been restored and I no longer have to worry about rape, harassment or the shame of using bushes as a toilet.”

AAH Somalia CLTS
Ijabo and three of her children outside their pit latrine


My privacy has been restored and I no longer have to worry about rape, harassment or the shame of using bushes as a toilet - Ijabo


With support from Bread for the World, AAH-I has been implementing the ‘Integrated community rehabilitation programme’ in Elwak District, Gedo region. One of the goals of the project is to improve and maternal and newborn health in the region by 2018. The project is complementing one of the targets (achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations) of Sustainable Development Goal 6.


The CLTS approach prioritizes behavioural change beyond mere toilet construction. Emphasis is placed on community mobilisation instead of individual households, in order to create open defecation-free villages.


“I thank NAPAD and AAH-I for introducing this good idea and fighting a social problem that affects many households in our locality,” concludes Ijabo.

Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.