Juba - Just a few kilometers from South Sudan’s capital city of Juba lies the bustling Kubri Haboba market. Here, commodity vendors from different residential areas across the city gather for their daily business activities.
Like many other public places, maintaining good sanitation can be a challenge. These densely populated areas are prone to water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases, especially due to limited hygiene infrastructure.
To address this gap, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), constructed a communal latrine consisting of four pit latrine units to help improve public hygiene in the market. Prior to the construction of the new latrine, the market had only one communal latrine serving thousands of people who come to this market. Many people in South Sudan practice open defecation. This facility will ensure a clean and safe environment.
Before the facility was handed over to the community, IOM trained selected community members to form a Public Latrine Enterprise, responsible for managing and taking care of the latrine to ensure sustainability.
Siama Margian is one of the two women who are part of this initiative.
Siama, who works as latrine cleaner and doubles as the record keeper, sits under the shade, behind a table with soap, toilet rolls and a record keeping book, ready to serve her clients.
Siama washes the communal latrine making sure the place is kept clean and hygienic. Part of her work also involves keeping a tally of the number of people visiting the facility and collecting the fee paid by users. These monies help in maintaining the facility. With the incentives she gets from this job, Siama can provide for her family.
“I have been working here for two months, and in these two months my living standards have improved. When I heard my children’ schools were reopening, I was worried because I didn’t have money to pay for their fees. I have been able to clear all my children’s school fees. I can even afford a good and decent meal for my children. Some of my friends say I eat food with money from cleaning latrines, but I don’t care about their words because I know my children are eating healthy which is all that matters to me,” says Siama Margian.
Separated by gender symbols, the users know exactly which side to go after paying the small user fee.
On average, 140 people use the communal latrine per day.
“This is just one of the many customers I have served today. After people come here, they go back and tell others about the facility and the number of people coming here keeps increasing,” says Siama.
As the latrine’s popularity has grown, so has the adoption of good sanitation within the market.
“This place used to be so dirty due to poor public hygiene, there was open defecation,” says Siama. “You could not sit here without catching an unpleasant smell; but today, this is all clean,” she adds.
IOM’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme establishes and maintains latrines and other sanitation facilities to ensure access to safe and hygienic environments. The construction of communal latrines in parts of South Sudan is part of IOM’s efforts to contribute to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.2: Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030.
“Good sanitation is a basic need. For a clean, safe, and dignified environment, all community members are encouraged to use latrines and dispose-off all human waste into latrines. However, due to the prevailing hard economic conditions in the country, most people in the community do not have access to this basic human need. IOM is working with communities in markets in urban areas and across South Sudan to provide safe and dignified access to this basic need”. Says David Kinyua IOM South Sudan’s Hygiene Promotion and Public Health Officer
The Public Latrine Enterprise plans to construct more hygiene facilities in the area with the money they collect from the current facility.
The construction of communal latrines in Juba and other parts of South Sudan is made possible through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
This story was written by Nabie Loyce, IOM South Sudan Media and Communications Assistant.