Mbwar’s coolest grandmother gets clean water and a decent toilet for the first time!

Mama Tatali, in Mbwar community
Image: ©WaterAid/Magaji Barde

Mbwar community in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State is characterised by its rocky terrain and an acute lack of access to safe water. Streams and wells are currently the primary sources of water in the community but during the dry seasons, the water in the wells dry up, leaving the streams as the sole sources of water. The lack of clean water has negatively affected the community’s health, education, and livelihoods. The lack of water in Mbwar community also means that the community does not have decent toilets because of the lack of water for toilet use. As a result, most of the community defecate in the open.

98-year-old Amina Sarki, popularly known as Mama Tatali, is Mbwar community’s coolest grandmother. She has lived all her life in the community without a toilet and says she’s been going to the bush to defecate in the open from the time she was a little girl. She says it can be treacherous and recalls several experiences of encounters with dangerous animals over the years.

Mama Tatali, in Mbwar community
Amina Sarki beside her constructed toilet
Image: ©WaterAid/Magaji Barde

Although defecating in the open became a culture for them, Mama Tatali says she is excited that it has become a thing of the past.  Motivated after sanitation awareness and sensitization outreaches by the state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and WaterAid, Mama Amina mobilised a few youths in the community to dig her a traditional toilet with a fence made of local materials to protect her and give her privacy while using her toilet.

Mama Tatali sweeps and washes her toilet every morning. Her new toilet is just a meter away and she is now free from the stress of travelling many kilometres to defecate in the bush. The health challenges with her foot and waist have reduced and this, she says, makes her very happy.

“I have been defecating in the open for almost all my life and I feel proud to finally have a toilet to call my own, one that’s reserved for just me. Now, I can have my privacy. There’s a lot of dignity that comes with that and with having a handwashing bucket where I can wash my hands.”

98year old Amina Sarki with her handwashing bucket
Amina Sarki with her handwashing bucket near her new toilet.
Image: WaterAid/Magaji Barde

Mama Tatali wants to eventually convert her pit toilet to a Water Easy Toilet, a durable dual model improved toilet. “I have spoken to my children, and they have promised to send me money to build this much smarter toilet immediately. I am so pleased that I can show my guests to my restroom and I can wash my hands with my new handwashing facility. It is very dignifying.”

“I am so happy that this happened in my lifetime. As one of the oldest in the community, I am glad this happened before I joined my ancestors and in the nick of time. I have escaped the dangers of hoodlums and kidnappers because I do not have to go the bush to defecate in the open. I appreciate this life-changing intervention which I consider to be the beginning of success and achievements in our society.”

The 98-year-old grandma recalls the agonising hours it took to get water as a young girl and how the past year has made a difference in her life with the provision of water schemes nearby by WaterAid.

Amina washing her hands
Mama Tatali using her handwashing bucket – one that is never out of water.
Image: WaterAid/Magaji Barde

“As a young girl, I remember the difficulties of traveling miles to get water, but I am happy that at my age I can easily go to the tap and fetch water to cater to my needs without having to rely on children around to help me fetch water like I did in the past. Now, I can wash my hands regularly too and without stress.”