A clean slate for Alfred and his family

Author: Mike Esrom Kaun

World Vision_water_1AS the second largest town in Vanuatu, many people are drawn to Luganville.

With a population of about 16,000 people, it is normal for families to settle in areas with poor living conditions.

Such was the case for 43-year-old Alfred who lives in challenging conditions with his wife Anita, their sons, in-laws, grandchildren and several other family members.

The area they live in is prone to regular flooding.  Water does not drain easily due to the soil composition, which causing huge mud pools in the area which sometimes take days to dry out.

During wet weather, the walk to the bathroom, toilet and other buildings not connected to the main house was a very muddy one.

“In the past we would have to wade through mud to get to the toilet and as it was a bush toilet, it was terrible for us and our children to slide on the wooden floor, which was covered with mud as we used the toilet,’’ said Anita.

“After using the toilet we didn’t think about washing our hands as there was no water pipe near the toilet.”

Eight years ago, Alfred decided to erect a better building to house the toilet and the bathroom.  Alfred’s limited income meant the work moved slowly.

World Vision has its waste management project Waste Not Want Not works with more than 3000 people in five urban communities throughout Luganville.

One of the aspects of the project is to work with target communities to help them become economically resilient. After consulting with Alfred’s community, a savings and loans scheme was introduced.

Alfred and his 17-year-old son Nikro joined the savings and loan scheme a month after it was established in June 2018.

According to the savings and loan scheme, a member can make a loan against their total savings or double the amount of their savings, which is what Alfred did to assist with the completion of the building and its plumbing.

“Now the toilet has been improved it is a more pleasant and hygienic experience for us all, especially when the children are getting ready to go to school in the morning or when we are preparing ourselves to go to work,” said Anita.

Alfred’s six-year-old grandson, Taylor, smiled as he washed his hands outside the toilet and said, “Now I can wash the mud off my feet before going in to the toilet and wash my hands after using the toilet”.

As Alfred and Anita also have extended family living with them, a total of 30 women, children and men use the new toilet and bathroom.

Funded by the Australian government, the four-year Waste Not Want Not project will run until 2021. Other major project components are waste management and waste management development, improving awareness on health and hygiene and expanded partnerships to increase awareness on good waste management to minimise negative impact on the environment.

World Vision will continue to work with Alfred and his community to assist them in other areas covered by the project.

Mike Esrom Kaun is Communication Officer with World Vision Vanuatu

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