Stories of Change

Azizah in front of her family's new bathroom.

Household latrines help families in Indonesia stay healthy during COVID-19

Disaster struck the village of Balongga in Indonesia in September 2018. A massive earthquake–and the resulting tsunamis and land liquefaction–destroyed or badly damaged most houses here. 

Today, many families in Balongga still live in “temporary” shelters that organizations including CWS helped them build. They are meant to be an intermediate solution and have a couple of sturdy rooms in each one. But there’s a key problem: those rooms don’t include a bathroom. 

Recognizing this shortcoming, CWS and our partners set out to help families build bathrooms near their shelters. So far we’ve reached 273 families in 14 villages, including Balongga. We also team up with community members called Community Health Promoters to lead hygiene and sanitation workshops.

Azizah, Dwi and their family are participating in this program. During a chat with CWS staff, Azizah said, “I feel grateful because we now have our own toilet. And I now know more about hygiene. The Promotors reminded us about behaviors that help us create and keep a clean, healthy home environment. For example, we heard about the basics of community-based total sanitation: stop open defecation, wash hands with soap, protect safe drinking water and manage household waste properly.”

This year, Promoters have also shared information about COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread. Dwi said, “Now that we have our own toilet, I don’t have to worry about the physical distancing rules [for shared public spaces]. Since we no longer use the communal latrines, which is good, [we are safer].” Azizah chimed in, “I agree! And, since we’ve had our own sanitary toilet, my children no longer have diarrhea.”