An agent of change in Chikobe Village
Mashalari John Shirima is a health worker in Chikobe Village, Geita. He works to educate communities on improved sanitation and hygiene. Learn about his story here.
As well as putting in the infrastructure for water supply and sanitation, we also work to improve the hygiene behaviours of communities, which is crucial for preventing diseases, and treating existing medical conditions.
All of our projects contain a component for hygiene behaviour change, and we work with community leaders and local health workers to act as change agents. We are currently rolling out a hygiene behaviour change campaign across 12 villages in Geita, as part of our Global Affairs Canada funded project. Mashalari John Shirima, is a 'trainer of trainers' in Chikobe Village, and works to improve hygiene and sanitation in his community. Here is his story.
"My name is Mashalari John Shirima, I’m 59 years old and was trained by WaterAid and WEDECO for two weeks to be a trainer of trainers (ToT) in Chikobe village. The training focused on behavioural change, how to make people change from bad sanitation and hygiene practices to good ones, the value of hand washing, latrine use, as well as making people understand WASH-related diseases and the safe water chain.
As a trainer, my work entails educating community members about sanitation and personal hygiene. We are working in four hamlets of the village, and in each of these hamlets we have trained five members who go house to house teaching hamlet members the benefits of good sanitation and hygiene practices. We want people to change from their traditional practices and poor latrine structures to improved ones.
Many people here in Chikobe village are still using latrines with half-built superstructures, but we would like them to have permanent structures.
To make people understand the value of improved sanitation and hygiene, we organised a series of community meetings educating people about WASH. Making people understand bad WASH practices was not easy. We organised community meetings to demonstrate how people are eating their own faeces, especially when they practice open defecation.
After the trigger process, a resolution was made that every household in the village should have their own latrines in order to end open defecation. A committee of five people was selected, and an action plan made, including house to house WASH education and submitting monthly reports to the ToTs, who in turn compile a village report and submit it to the district health office for planning and decision-making purposes. Community members also agreed on byelaws to ensure that all people build their latrines.
The community-based facilitators of change were provided with WASH training kits, using the slogan ‘Sanitation and hygiene is civilisation, it begins with us.’ This means that every one of us has a role to play.
Since the behaviour change campaign, a lot has changed in Chikobe village. Currently our village has a population of 674 households and a population of 5,989 people. Out of the 674 households in the village, 363 have traditional pit latrines, 186 have improved traditional latrines and 125 households have ventilated improved latrines (VIP) and many of these have hand washing facilities. People’s attitudes are changing, because no one wants to eat each other’s faeces since this leads to diseases. Even when we make a follow up to the health care facilities, WASH-related diseases have reduced. Many people in the village are working hard to improve the toilet structures and having hand washing facilities nearby the latrines.
Personal hygiene has also improved among village members, during our house to house sensitisation we put emphasis on the construction of tippy taps for hand washing.
In addition, we worked with schools in the community to educate schoolchildren about water, sanitation and hygiene. Schoolchildren reinforce the messages in their communities.
Having been part of this process since its inception, I have noticed that people in the community want to live in a clean and disease-free environment. People wanted change, but they lacked someone to lead them, someone to give the needed education.
Now that the project is coming to end, we have our community structures already in place; we have trained village healthcarers, local masons who help in toilet construction and many people trained on constructing tippy taps using locally available materials.
All in all, the benefits of this project are visible in the community, schools and health centres. My role is now more on monitoring and evaluating how people in the village are making the desired change happen. All that said, it would be good if possible, to have a project extension so that we can cover the whole ward."