In order to encourage the adoption of best practices in hygiene and sanitation, USAID|REGIS-ER launched a competition for “model houses” in 2017. This competition covered 68 villages in Burkina Faso where the project—led by NCBA CLUSA—uses the “community-led total sanitation” approach.
The contest’s goal was to reward households engaged in improving the sanitation of their living environment, through awarding a prize to the three best house courtyards, based on hygiene and sanitation criteria for healthy housing. The goal was also to increase the formal eradication of open defecation.
When the news of the competition was released, communities used the competition to increase energy around sanitation projects: accelerating latrine construction, purchasing or building hand-washing devices, organizing cleanliness days, banning open defecation by establishing fines in some villages, poster campaigns, official communiques in the markets and gathering spaces, enforcement of water chain hygiene practices and more.
This competition enabled villages where the project intervened to stand out, thanks to their sanitation status. Villagers elevated the recognized model houses as examples for the whole village to encourage the other households to adopt best practices in hygiene and sanitation. The ultimate goal was for outstanding villages to achieve open defecation free (ODF) certification—recognition by the provincial committee, which monitors the use of latrines and full adoption of hygiene practices to improve the health of the community.
“People realized that it was more pleasant and clean over there. They had the will to change but didn’t know how to proceed. That’s why we went to look for concrete advice and tools.” – Yabre Dioulé, village leader.
In the Manni commune, one village that was working with the USAID|REGIS-ER project achieved this goal. Hearing about the contest’s results, villagers from their neighboring village Komboissikpéri (outside the intervention area of the project) came to visit. The positive change in hygiene practices and cleanliness of courtyard and streets dramatically contrasted with their own village. Discussing with the first village’s sanitation committee, the Komboissikpéri leadership gained support and skills in replicating these best practices at home. Following their neighbors’ evidence-based advice, they got together and set up their own sanitation committee to encourage households in building or rehabilitating latrines and improving sanitation and hygiene.
Towards a healthier community
When the project, in collaboration with local authorities, planned the ODF assessment of its intervention villages, Komboissikpéri leaders asked if their village could be assessed at the same time. Their request was granted, and the certification team evaluated their village in June 2018.
After checking the entire village for overall cleanliness and inspecting each household for potential compliance issues, the committee didn’t find anything wrong and declared the village officially ODF.
Komboissikpéri village achieved in a one-month period what other villages had failed to do for years. Since the village was declared ODF, members of the evaluation committee and administrative authorities have encouraged the village to maintain this status for six months to earn full certification.