How one village built a toilet for every house

2 min read
Mr. Evaristo, 40, is the sub-village chief of Falitehu outside one of the new toilets
Image: WaterAid

A decent toilet is something everyone should take for granted – at home, school, work, and public places. It’s a basic human right that protects people from dangerous diseases and provides dignity. In the village of Falitehu, this was not the case.

Falitehu is a sub-village in the Manufahi Municipality of Timor-Leste. A very isolated town, there are only 22 households and 235 people living in the village. Community members must walk for hours if they need to reach the town of Manufahi for supplies or medical care.

Mr. Evaristo, 40, is the sub-village chief of Falitehu and is actively involved in improving sanitation and hygiene in the village.

When speaking with WaterAid, Mr. Evaristo told the story of a 9-year-old boy bitten by a pig after defecating in the pigsty. because the village did not have toilets. The family tried to rush the boy to a hospital, but his life was lost due to the injury.

In collaboration with Mr. Evaristo and local partner Luta ba Mudansa (LBM), WaterAid worked to improve sanitation and hygiene in Falitehu.

Across three years, WaterAid and local partners spent time educating locals on the importance of a decent toilet, safely managed sanitation and good hygiene as well as how to build and maintain a safe toilet.

As a result, by 2020, every household in the village had built their own toilet, (bold) learnt how to maintain it and become accustomed to the change from open defecation, with Mr. Evaristo stated nobody in the village open defecated anymore, using only the safe toilets.

On WaterAid’s intervention, Mr. Evaristo said:

It has reinforced us the community to improve our toilets, and being the chief, I keep supporting to motivate the community to use proper toilets, wash their hands before having meal, after using toilets or touching any dirty things to prevent them from various diseases, like worms, diarrhoea and others. As result of this program, all 22 household have their own [toilets] and should we have more new families, I will keep reminding them to do the same like others. 

This project is supported by the Australian Government and implemented by WaterAid and our partners.