“Some people had to do their business in a river as they did not have toilets at home,” said Agus Andri, known as Agus – a local sanitarian enterpreneur and resident of Joho village in Mojolaban sub-district in Sukoharjo district, Central Java when he shared his neighbors’ defecation habits.
Until the end of 2018, open defecation was still practiced in Joho village. The Puskesmas Mojolaban data showed that 80 of 1,518 households in this village did their business in shared toilets or a river. This situation occurred due to people’s low awareness of the danger of open defecation. Furthermore, some people, especially those working as laborers, could not afford to build a toilet with septic tank.
“I feel sorry for these people. Defecating in a river is not only harmful for the environment, but also for the people, especially women. They could slip into the water or be prone to sexual harassment,” said Agus, who has been running a business in producing and installing latrines and septic tanks since the end of 2017.
Agus learned about the danger of open defecation when he participated in the training on toilets and septic tanks construction that USAID IUWASH PLUS held in November in 2017 to support the Joho village government in improving people’s access to safely managed sanitation. The training taught him that safely managed sanitation, which includes containing domestic wastewater management in a septic tank that meets SNI standard, transporting and disposing septage in an IPLT, and treating the septage in an IPLT, is important to protect the environment and people’s health, safety, and dignity. Agus also learned about the standard of safe and healthy latrine and septic tank, especially that they should not leak easily.
Agus said that the training motivated him to produce, market, and install latrines and septic tanks that meet the SNI standard yet are affordable for most people. To realize his plan, Agus trained three local masons to help him produce the latrines and septic tanks. When marketing his products, Agus also informs his potential customers about the benefits of using latrines and septic tanks at home.
“At first, people did not believe that they could get a safe and healthy latrine and septic tank for Rp1.5 million. Moreover, they did not understand about the benefits of safely managed sanitation. But, with an intensive approach, they became more aware and now use my products,” said Agus.
Almost two years after Agus started his business, 300 houses from Joho village and other districts use the latrines and septic tanks that Agus produces. “I thought that the toilets Agus make would leak easily, but after I saw that the latrines and septic tanks have good quality, I trust the product,” said Waluyo—one of Agus’s customers.
“I am so happy that all households in Joho village have toilets with septic tanks, now. I hope I can produce and promote safe and healthy toilets for more community members,” Agus shared his hope.
-Edy Triyanto/Ginanjar Hayati (Kontributor)-
Available in Indonesia (Indonesian)