Latrines Save Lives

Thursday, December 07, 2017
Photo by Meitty

Imagine finding out that open defecation is contaminating your water source and causing the deadly diarrhoea in your children, and your neighbour’s children.


This is the reality for people living in remote villages in Sumba, where open defecation is a common practise. In fact, the biggest contributing factor to death and disease in young children here is an innocent lack of knowledge.

SurfAid empowers people with the knowledge to make educated decisions and change behaviours.

With your help, SurfAid trains community health volunteers to communicate the negative impacts of poor sanitation such as open defecation, and empowers them to collectively resolve  sanitation issues. The community health volunteers, together with the entire village, map out where they fetch water, where they grow food, and most importantly, where they defecate. This is paired with a sanitation message that triggers many households to build their own latrines.

A SurfAid community health volunteer teaches her neighbours about health and sanitation. Photo by Chandra


Meet Bapak Isak and Bapak Jhon, two brothers who recently attended one of SurfAid’s sanitation mapping sessions in Paddi village. They were shocked to learn how open defecation impacts their community’s health. Both men were motivated by the consequences of their unhygienic behaviour and were amongst the firsts in their community to build latrines.

Bapak Jhon said, “I now realise open defecation is a wrong practise. I don’t want my family members openly defecating anymore. I am making a toilet for my family.”


Bapak Jhon and his brother gathering the materials to build their first latrine. Photo by Meitty


With your support, partners like Bapak Jhon are given the opportunity to work with SurfAid and learn what it takes to establish practical sanitation solutions for their community. SurfAid embodies the ‘hand up, not hand out’ approach by providing technical expertise on where and how to build the latrines, while the community members dig the holes, make the toilet molds, and construct the walls.

Thank you for your continued support as we work to educate one remote island village at a time, empower them to change their own circumstances, and reduce preventable disease and death.