Philippine WASH project delivers toilets and hygiene education to villages

To combat these problems, the Rotary Club of Intramuros-Manila developed a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) project that installed 25 toilets in the Aeta communities of Flora and Kawayan and three in Babo. Rotary members made visits to the community to learn about and understand current hygiene practices, willingness to work on the project, and the communities desire for toilets.

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Before a single brick was shipped, Rotary developed friendships and gained buy-in from the community. Rotary was able to leverage an existing profile of Flora and Kawayan to guide the project, including information on race, history, socio-economic conditions, family units, source of livelihood, and means of transportation.

Behavior change is hard. You’re asking people to do something different from what they were comfortable doing before.

“On our first visit, one of the leaders said that nongovernment organizations and politicians had visited them often, promising to build toilets,” recalls Floren Naguit, project manager and member of the Intramuros Rotary Club. “But none had ever been built.” Until now.

Work began in Flora in early 2018 during the dry season, December through April, when roads are most passable. Together with their international partner, the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay, Australia, the club organized three-person work crews and local volunteers to haul materials by Jeep and carabao-pulled carts up mountain roads and across 26 rivers.

Septic tanks were installed, foundations set, walls and roofs built, tiles laid, toilet bowls inserted, solar lamps added, and use and care signs hung. Construction in Kawayan began after Flora was completed, with the total project dedicated in early 2020.

The project paid local teachers, hired by the government, a small stipend to lead three small workshops for clusters of two to three families, and include education on safe hygiene in their lesson plans to encourage behavior change.