A hefty 6% of Malawi’s population is struggling to stay healthy, be productive and work their way to a better future – all for the want of a toilet. But United Purpose is changing this by working with local leaders to educate and empower communities about sanitation.
Today, 1 million people in Malawi lack access to any kind of toilet. This means that nearly one in 20 people are forced to poo in public spaces. These spaces are often close to people’s homes, and can lead to major public health issues, such as diarrhoea, cholera and infant mortality.
United Purpose is working with partners to completely eliminate pooing in the open (usually referred to as 'open defecation') in Malawi. We are engaging health workers, local leaders and community-based entrepreneurs to help us spread the message about the dangers of not using a toilet.
Read Margaret's story:
Margaret Manuel, a 54-year-old farmer from Nyondo Village (pictured above), is just one person who has made positive changes to her life following UP’s project in her community. After being taught about the dangers of open defecation at a community meeting, she resolved to build a latrine for her family.
“At the meeting, government health workers showed us faeces in the bush, which made me feel ashamed about defecating outside,” Margaret explains. “I realised that it could mean we were eating our own faeces, as flies would travel from there to our food.”
It took Margaret four days to construct her latrine. She was able to do it for free, by using the resources around her and learning from others in the village who had already built their own latrines.
“Having your own latrine is a sign of self-respect,” Margaret says. “Being caught using someone else’s, or defecating in public, is very embarrassing.”
Celebrating our achievements
To date, UP has facilitated 25% of all open-defecation-free Traditional Authority areas in Malawi – more than any other NGO. This incredible achievement means that 1 million people in over 3,000 villages no longer poo in open spaces, making them healthier and less vulnerable to diseases.
UP was also part of the pioneering team that worked to make an entire district in Malawi open defecation free for the very first time (in May 2017). This historic achievement has set an example for sanitation programming nationwide.