Inspired Afghan Village Improves Sanitation Practice and Status in 24 Days

Inspired Afghan Village Improves Sanitation Practice and Status in 24 Days

Moen Kas, Afghanistan {Photo credit: Noorgha CLTS Supervisor.}Photo credit: Noorgha CLTS Supervisor.

Moen Kas, a hilly remote Afghan village absent of latrines or even a functioning water well, became an Open Defecation-Free (ODF) community within 24 days of arduous commitment from its leaders and people.

Moen Kas’ remarkable milestone makes it the first village in Afghanistan to reach ODF status in less than one month--inspired entirely from personal stories that are spreading across the country regarding the benefits of living in ODF communities.

The quick transformation was the direct result of a man from Moen Kas who had attended an ODF certification ceremony in the nearby, yet secluded, village of Ghalani.

As he watched the ceremony and learned of ODF’s benefits, he asked to speak on behalf of his village. During his speech, he praised Ghalani’s achievements within the past two months and publicly vowed that his own village would achieve ODF status in under a month.

Recognizing that this ambitious goal could not be achieved through him alone, he urged the other Moen Kas’ villagers who were also present at the ceremony to stand with him and work together.

So determined was the man in his vision to transform his village, that he invited the audience to visit Moen Kas in one week to verify it as an ODF community.

Moen Kas villagers achieved their success through working as partners to overcome all obstacles. For example, despite their lack of piped water connections, they maximized their local resources, using vehicles, donkeys, and hand buckets to transport water to supply the latrines with a water flush system. In another situation, a widow with two small children was unable to construct a latrine; the community worked together to build one for her.

By the end, new latrines were constructed for all 16 households and a Family Health Action Group was formed consisting of ten members to provide support and ensure the latrines’ use.

Officials and villagers celebrate Moen Kas ODF certification. (Photo credit: Noorgha CLTS Supervisor) When the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) facilitators arrived, the people’s hard work was evident and it was declared Open Defecation Free.

Soon, representatives from the departments of public health, rural rehabilitation, education, and the district governor arrived in Moen Kas to participate in its ODF certification ceremony.

In a village that has virtually never received any subsidized intervention, Moen Kas has captured the essence of local ownership, exemplified through Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project's Community-Led Total Sanitation program.

Dr. Nasir Maidanwal is Nangarhar Provincial WASH Coordinator.

The USAID-funded Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Afghanistan (SWSS) project increases access to potable water and sanitation services in Afghan communities and decreases the prevalence of water borne diseases through household hygiene interventions. Led by the Association for Rural Development, in partnership with Management Sciences for Health, SWSS has led nearly 400 communities in Afghanistan to become Open Defecation Free. The MSH components of the project have succeeded under the astute leadership of Dr. Abdul Hatifie, the team leader for Sustainable Health Outcomes, and Dr. Logarwal, the Behavior Change Communication Material and Media Specialist. Together they have led the successful implementation of innovative approaches in all aspects of the SWSS project. 

To learn more about SWSS’s accomplishments, please see the cover article in the June 2012 edition of USAID Global Waters magazine.