a West African nation of 10 million people, is on the edge of the
Sahara desert. It is a very poor country; with an average
GNI of $240, labor is cheap and mechanized equipment is very
For the vast majority of Malians, who live in the rural areas,
amenities such as plumbing and sanitation, are just not financially
accessible. Water supplies are scarce adn need to be protected;
one of the most common hazardous contaminants is human waste. Without
proper sanitation facilities, villagers have no choice but to relieve
themselves out in the open.
Pit latrines are not outrageously expensive; cultural acceptance
and information are the biggest hurdles to their proliferation.
In my home village of Bounguel, we organized a latrine introduction
project. The villagers contributed the sand, gravel, labor and half
of the cost of the cement; the project (funded by the Peace
Corps SPA program) paid for the other half of the cement. This
small incentive encouraged the villagers to participate; a larger
subsidy would have set an unrealistic precedent and endangered future
sustainability of the project.
We taught the villagers to:
- choose a location;
- dig to the proper depth;
- mix the cement for the bricks;
- mold, cure and lay the bricks;
- cast the reinforced slab;
- maintain the latrine.