Latrine construction was not a priority for farmers in Chiredzi as they have relied on the dense forests for defaecation. Open defaecation coupled with unsafe water consumption e.g. drinking water from rivers was compromising health amongst the community and livestock. The Activity has made efforts by encouraging the construction of latrines to curb the spread of diseases amongst communities in Chiredzi. Trainings and mentorship have helped emphasize how bad hygiene and sanitation can have a negative effect on their productivity and on the health of their livestock if faecal matter is consumed. Triggering activities helped farmers see the amount of faecal matter they ingest e.g. when they swat away a fly from their food and how adoption of latrines by some individuals and not all leaves the entire community exposed to faecal matter. Issues of beef measles started coming up where some individuals related to how they had lost their cattle in the past when their carcasses were condemned at abattoirs.
The FARM Activity encourages farmers to make worthwhile on farm investments using proceeds from increased crop and livestock production, productivity and market linkages that positively impacts their nutrition and WASH status. Thus upon realisation of the losses due to beef measles, medical bills when they had to go get treatment and medication when they would have diarrhoea caused by the unavailability of latrines, the Activity encouraged farmers to use a step wise approach in latrine construction by first having a UBVIP and then upgrading to a BVIP. Budgets on the costs of the toilets were shared where one would need $49.50 for the substructure which includes the slab and pit lining and $139 for the superstructure. This helped put into perspective the amounts they would need from the sales of their crops for latrine construction as most farmers got $210 to $160 profit from the sale of their sugar bean crop. Once farmers had sold their produce this saw farmers start to build toilets. For farmers who had initially not seen the need for latrines and with an initial latrine coverage of 26 percent in Chiredzi district (MOHCC Chiredzi, 2020), this was a positive development in the area of sanitation and health. According to the AHS results about 8 out of 10 farmers reached by the Activity now have access to latrines. Some farmers have managed to construct substructures and latrines up to the roof level and were waiting for income from the sale of green mealies to roof, whilst others upgraded from the ones they had left at roof level and put up the roof as well as the ventilation pipe, others managed to construct BVIPs.
Auxillia Ndhlovu one of the farmers in Rupangwana was grateful for the knowledge she had received. “I did not have a toilet before FARM and was using the bush for defecation. When we sold our sugar beans through the market linkage facilitated by FARM, it gave me enough income to invest in a latrine as this is beneficial to our health as farmers, now I have my own toilet and don’t have to be hiding from people when I need to go to the toilet,” said Auxillia Ndhlovu.
Tinashe Mashawi one of the farmers in Chikombedzi has reached roof level of his toilet construction through the sale of Rakodzi and through off farm activities of transportation of sorghum to be sold to GMB for other farmers in the area. “The sales have definitely helped in facilitating this development. We were not taking heed of the need to upgrade our toilets as it seemed like a waste of money but we were not seeing the losses we were making by not doing so. This helps the whole community as it decreases the prevalence of open defecation,” said Tinashe Mashawi.
Shalati Mbanyele one of the farmers from ward 4 who has a UBVIP stated how she realised that there was a need for a roof on her latrine and was working towards ensuring that after she sells her green mealies, she will roof it and place the pole which she already has in her home.
Farmers have gladly welcomed the issue of toilet construction and with increased incomes there is certainty that all farmers will end up having BVIPs.