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Plan International Program in Ethiopia Empowers Children to Fight Open Defecation

Children in Ethiopia are helping to promote the construction of latrines, like this one in Dara.
Children in Ethiopia are helping to promote the construction of latrines, like this one in Dara.
July 31, 2014
Children are leading the charge towards better sanitation in Ethiopian communities.

School-Led Total Sanitation (SLTS) in Ethiopia is empowering children through hygiene and sanitation promotion, improving school enrollment and retention, and enhancing change of behavior in sanitation.

The program, led by Plan International, is using teachers as community facilitators while students play active roles by initiating families to report developments. Students have also been lobbying for latrine construction during community meetings and voicing opposition to open defecation.

An adult caught defecating in the open is labeled “chilancho” by students. The label is a taboo word for feces.

Additionally, SLTS has improved schools in two ways: by creating clean school compounds and improving child enrollment and retention.

“While we were facilitating villages, we were able to access 200 children who reached the age of education but [weren’t] enrolled, and 36 students who interrupted school were brought back,” Ato Mekonnen, principal of Gucho School, said.

Ato Sebsibie Bekele is one of the villagers in Kocho Kebele.

“Five months ago, villagers – including me – used to defecate in the open, especially in the backyards where we cultivate our beloved crops. As a result, sometimes it was difficult to cultivate the plant due to infestation. There was no habit of washing hands after defecation.

“However, after we got initiation from Plan, all villagers constructed latrines, including communal ones so as to assure a clean environment. Now, as you can see my backyard and environment, it is neat; we wash our hands with water and soap.”


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