Nigeria: New Water Protection Initiative Forces Nigerians to Use Toilets

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"In the community before, people used to defecate in the open. But now it doesn't happen anymore, and the community has formed an environmental task team."

Ayuba says most people have stopped defecating in the open. Anyone violating that agreement - even children - are stamped with a fine by the community environmental task team of around 2,000 Naira (9 euros; $13).

"We only caught three people defecating out in the open last year," he told DW, highlighting the progress that has been made.

Community-led total sanitation

Some communities in rural Nigeria have little access to toilets, often preferring to defecate in the forest

The workshops are run according to the concept of community-led total sanitation, or CLTS. The classes often include community leaders, women and youth and force locals to confront the issue of open defecation.

Typically, participants go to an open defecation site and inspect it. The links between human waste and local diseases are then explained.

Such sessions are often quite confronting and emotional for those taking part. But, they have the desired effect, says Otive Igbuzo, from the African Center for Leadership Strategy and Development, who helped organize the workshops in Kyuzhi.

"A fining policy will only work if a majority of the people have made that behavioral change, so you have only a few deviants or new entrants into the community which you then whip into line with that sanction or fine," says Igbuzo.

"If you only fine in a community where that behavior change has not happened, the fine will not work."

Back at the local pond, Laraba Alaghaye says she is in favor of the fines. And, she agrees that most of the community has bought into it. Now, toilets have been installed in areas and new defecation sites have been set up.

"If my child tells me that he wants to defecate, I follow him, and show him the place he should do that so that I can bury it," she told DW.

"If I see another person's child doing it (in the wrong area) I tell the mother, because I don't want to see the community dirty," she said.

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