40 toilets provided to a remote community of 4,000 previously with one shared, open air latrine

Can you imagine living in a community of 4,000 people without having access to a private toilet? This was a daily reality for members of a remote community in Niger.

The community lies across the Niger River from the small town of Tillaberi. Accessible only by canoe, it is remote for a reason – its residents are leprosy-affected and their ancestors were outcast from the town many years ago.

Until earlier this year, the community contributed to the 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to proper sanitation.  They had a shared public latrine and open defecation was widely practised, proving harmful to public health.

The Leprosy Mission England and Wales is currently constructing 40 latrines as well as providing health education and livelihood opportunities to residents in order to increase food security.

Peter Walker, National Director of The Leprosy Mission England and Wales, this week returned from visiting the community.  He said:

“I always struggled to comprehend the statistic that more people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet.  But having visited the leprosy-affected community on an island across the river from Tillabery, I can now see the reality

“The stench coming from the former shared latrine was just dreadful and it was a grim and degrading experience for members of the community having to use it.  And this is without taking into account the effect on public health.

“I had the honour of officially opening a block of new private latrines which sounds a strange job, but to the beneficiaries it was a joyful day and marked a great transformation in their lives.”