Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through food and water that is contaminated due to poor sanitation: not washing hands after using the restroom, food growing in water infected with fecal matter, etc. However, cholera can be controlled through proper water and sewage treatment systems.
For people in the US, threats of cholera are few and far between: only about 10 cases are reported annually and half of these were contracted while overseas. But at least 150,000 cases of cholera are reported to the World Health Organization annually.
According to this article, three cholera outbreaks sprung up in Sokode, Togo in 2013. These outbreaks became the catalyst for a “Toilets for All in Sokode” project, which built 788 latrines for people living in the area within five years. Where just 34% of Sokode households previously had access to their own toilets, now many more do.
And in addition to increased sanitation, jobs were created: fecal matter is collected from the latrines and transported to a new treatment plant. The treated waste is dried and the bio-solid materials are available to gardeners and farmers to help nourish their crops.
The article also says,
The city that was once a centre for the spread of cholera in Togo is now a benchmark for sanitation,” [Project Manager and African Development Bank sanitation expert, Ousseynou Guene] said with obvious pleasure. It is the only city in the country endowed with a human waste treatment plant and where community organizations have turned into service provision enterprises.
Sanitation may not seem like a big deal – but when you do not have a toilet in your home (or even nearby in your neighborhood), having this physical need met may open doors for people to hear and respond to the Gospel. May we be open to see those who are ready to hear and faithful to share.
Note: The map featured on this post shows the spread of cholera from 1950-2004. It was not prevalent in Africa until about 1970 and since than, has taken West Africa by force. Praise the Lord for projects like “Toilets for all in Sokode” that help combat the spread of this illness.