Giving Compass' Take:

• Toby Fricker discusses the importance of ending open defecation in Afghanistan and how culturally appropriate strategies can make it happen. 

• Will these techniques work in other places? How can funders help to develop effective outreach strategies? 

• Learn more about ending open defecation

Each year thousands of child deaths in Afghanistan could be avoided by using toilets and washing hands. Nili district in central Afghanistan recently celebrated being declared ‘open defecation free’ – a first in the country. Fatima, 23, is one of the people behind this change, helping to create a healthier environment for children and the entire community.

Using a combination of shock, shame, pride and disgust, families are encouraged through peer pressure to build a latrine and commit to using it. The process usually lasts three to six months until an entire community has given up defecating in the open, contributing to a healthier environment for everyone.

Diarrhoea-related deaths among children under the age of 5 total over 9,500 a year in Afghanistan. This means some 26 children die each day as a result of an infection that leads to diarrhoea, many of which are avoidable.

When health workers visited Chaw, a remote village in the central highlands, Fatima realised she could do something to bring about change.

She volunteered with the village health committee, which took part in the district wide ‘Community-led Total Sanitation’ approach, where families identify areas around their homes that are used as toilets.

Read the full article about open defecation by Toby Fricker at UNICEF.