Since before I left to the US, AADB built a public toilet in the Carrefour*, which is where all the taxi’s park and many ladies sell their products. The alley behind the Carrefour connects the town of Batchingou and Bangou and is how many ladies and kids get to the Carrefour, which is where most everything is. Because it is somewhat hidden, people used the alley as a toilet and it was dirty and always smelled.

The first reason we built it is obvious; it is unhealthy, unsanitary and just downright dirty to have people using the toilet in public. I’m pretty sure that isn’t a cultural thing; if you gave anyone here an option to use a toilet or do it in a dirty corner, 99 out of 100 Africans preferred the toilet*

The second is a more aesthetic reason. Since the Carrefour is the first place that people arriving in Bangou see, their first impression of my wonderful village is that it is a dirty, smelly place. Since they think it is a dirty, smelly place, they don’t mind continuing to dirty it up. It continues to snowball to where it in fact becomes a dirty smelly place. That alley was the worst example of that. It had become a de facto toilet.

So AADB built a toilet. Then I left to the US.

When I came back, I saw that many people were using the toilet, but they were just doing their business outside NEXT to the building.

Two reasons for this. The main one was that there is no sign for the toilet. So most people don’t even know it is a toilet. They just walk right past it, and do their business right next to it, unknowing that there is a perfectly good hole for them to use inside. So we put up a sign.

The second is that people that do go inside sometimes are messy and there is no one to actually clean the toilet. If you think the local gas station has dirty bathroom, try getting rid of the toilet, sink, light and tile in the bathroom and replace it with a hole in the ground and have strangers come in needing to badly use the bathroom and have no one clean it for a couple of weeks.

Now, that sounds pretty bad, but for the most part, people who use the public latrines in Africa are clean. But no matter where you are, there is that small percentage that will see a perfectly good hole and take a crap right next to it instead.

Those certain people are giving me a headache trying to think about how to keep it clean without actually having to go down there and clean it.

But in the meantime, at least the alley is now cleaner and safer than before and everyone has a place to do their business, semi-privately.

before the work begun, after having dug the hole. You can see locals carrying their goods to the market.

Aladji nailing the sign to the toilet.

*A Carrefour is an intersection where most business takes place

*unofficial statistic