From the Field

How Community Hygiene Opened New Doors for Business

Published January 31st, 2017 in From the Field

Meet Robert the Door Maker

You can tell from his hands that Robert is a carpenter: they are strong, well-worn, and have bandages from days of hard work with hand tools.

Robert is from the parish of Kayunga in Uganda, where Lifewater recently introduced WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) concepts to the community. To help create healthy villages, Lifewater walks alongside families as they start to make small health changes–changes that lead to big health improvements. Each household has a goal of using safe water and storing it safely, using a latrine, washing hands, drying dishes safely, and keeping a clean compound. When a family demonstrates that it does all these things, it earns a “Healthy Home” certificate.

As people began to work toward Healthy Homes and better community hygiene, Robert saw an opportunity to use his skills to both provide for his family and help his community move toward better health together.

One of the main elements of a healthy home is a “pit latrine,” outhouses that use little to no water. In order for a latrine to be healthy, it needs a pit cover, a roof and a door. The roof is not only for privacy, but also for when it rains; that way the pit does not fill up with excess water and begin to overflow. The pit cover reduces odor and helps improve community hygiene by keeping flies from spreading disease throughout the village. The door is the final piece of the puzzle, and where Robert saw his opportunity, as carpentry skills were required to make a durable, functional door.

People keep coming saying, “Make for me!”

Robert builds latrine doors out of different materials to help offset the costs; corrugated metal is the strongest, but he also cuts and attaches sections of jerry cans to fashion doors.

“Becoming a Healthy Home and a Healthy Village has increased my business because everyone is in need of doors and they are on a high demand,” says Robert. “People want to fulfill the requirements of a Healthy Home, and the latrine must have a door…people keep coming saying, ‘Make for me!’”