Lucy and her husband live in Mulanje, Malawi with their four children. Having built their own household ‘ecosan’ toilet, Lucy is now an inspiration to others in her community, and believes that it has already helped to improve the health and lives of her family.
Lucy is one of over 500 members of the Mulanje Federation, made up of poor people who are working together in their communities to improve living conditions. Hygiene education is an important focus of the Mulanje Federation and its members have been working to educate others in their communities about the importance of safe hygiene practices, including hand washing and using soap.
With many families like Lucy’s still using traditional pit latrines, clean and safe toilet facilities are a big concern in communities like Mulanje. Pit latrines are not only difficult to maintain (needing to be re-dug each time they are full) but are also known to pollute groundwater. As a result, organisations like our partner in Malawi, the Centre for Community Organisation and Development, promote the use of ecosan toilets: an alternative dry toilet system that turns human toilet waste into compost.
As well as being permanent and helping to prevent pollution, ecosan toilets low-cost and provide families with fertile compost that can be used on crops, or even sold to help boost their income.
As a member of the Mulanje federation and saving small amounts of money regularly, Lucy and her family were eligible to receive an affordable loan from a community fund, equivalent to around £175, to build their own household ecosan toilet.
Lucy pays back the equivalent of £10 a month, and when she has fully repaid the money, it can be ‘recycled’ to help more people in the community build toilets or make other improvements.
After only two months of using their new toilet, Lucy’s family already feel that their health and living conditions have improved from their days of using a pit latrine, and they look forward to using the fertiliser from the toilet on the small plot of land behind their house.
Lucy speaks proudly of the many positive comments she has received from others about her new toilet. As a member of the Mulanje Federation, she will continue to work within her community to help further improve hygiene and sanitation.
Inspired by Lucy’s story? Read more about our work in Malawi.