Becoming a champion of sanitation and hygiene Stories

26 November, 2019

Illyassoum is a mason in Doumam, his native village, in the commune of Gorom-Gorom in Burkina Faso. He is a sanitation and hygiene leader in his community. To date, he has built 90 latrines and 5 shower sumps for more than 100 households.

He practices masonry and agriculture in the rainy season and livestock farming in the dry season. Having left school in Grade 4, he entered the workforce at a very early age. At 16 years old, he was hired by the mining company IAMGOLD like many other young people.

When the ECED-Sahel project team visited his village in 2016, they discovered a dynamic and passionate young man who served as an interpreter for his community. The president of the Village Development Council appointed him as a volunteer mason and he then received ten days of training in techniques for building family sanitation facilities.

Serving the community

Convinced of the project’s relevance and enthusiastic about his new profession, Illyassoum abandoned his position at the mining company and devoted himself to building latrines and shower sumps for his community. He built his own latrine in 2017, maintained it properly and showed it to the various project missions visiting his village.

Illyassoum stands out for the quality of his work and the speed with which he carries out his works. But he is not only a good worker; his charm makes him an undisputed leader in his community. Not only did he adopt good hygiene practices, but he also raises awareness among his peers. As such, he is a champion for the promotion and adoption of good hygiene practices and the use and maintenance of latrines.

A role model within his village

Health and sanitation initiatives such as the one pursued by the ECED-Sahel project require public consultations and endorsement to ensure their success. The construction of latrines and showers sumps alone is not enough to produce the positive effects of improved hygiene and sanitation. Behaviour change approaches and the promotion of good practices are essential. When these efforts are carried out by one of the members of the community, the effects are all the more beneficial and sustainable.

Illyassoum reports that the project has enabled him to serve his community and today he enjoys a certain notoriety that gives him an enviable place in the village. Most notably, he is an inspiration and a role model for the young people of his village, who often base their hopes on artisanal mining but come back disappointed and tempted by extremist ideologies.

The income from his activity as a mason has enabled Illyassoum to send his children to school, cover health-related costs and help his parents. Today, he is a fulfilled man, especially when he sees his family having a latrine at home and living in a healthy and hygienic environment. He says he is ready to continue his activities, become more professional and growth.

About the ECED-Sahel project

The Water and Sustainable Economic Growth in the Sahel (ECED- Sahel) is a four-year, CAD 17 million multi-sectoral programme (2015-2019) in agriculture, water and sanitation undertaken in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada, IAMGOLD, One Drop Foundation and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Burkina Faso. The project promotes sustainable economic growth in the region by supporting agricultural and livestock production, improving sanitation and access to safe drinking water and strengthening local governance.

Related Content

Building a better life for the residents of Lusaka

This year’s World Cities Day, celebrated on October 31st, focused on the importance of adapting cities for climate resilience. Building better cities for a better life requires creating more sustainable, […]

Women transplanting seeds on a drip irrigation site

Planting the seeds of resilience across Africa’s drylands

Mark Redwood, Executive Director, SPARC and Laure Tankpinou, Project Director The drylands of Africa are experiencing a series of compounded development challenges, including high levels of poverty, precarious livelihoods, protracted […]

Highly skilled engineers are the new hope for water resource management in Afghanistan

During his first internship on a dam project in the Western Basins region of Afghanistan 6 years ago, Naser, a civil engineering student at the time, was struck by the […]

Interested in shaping the future with Cowater International?
Learn More