Shining a bright light: how rechargeable lamp facilitate access to sanitation facilities at night in Jere and Konduga

Camps in Jere and Konduga LGAs are places of refuge for many displaced populations. However, they can also be potential places of insecurity for vulnerable people. Community sanitation facilities and the paths to and from them, have been seen as places of potential danger, especially for women, girls and children.

During recent consultations held with very diverse community groups, it has been reported that at night time, women and girls do not necessarily feel comfortable using latrines which result in occasional open defecation nearby sanitation facilities. During focus group discussions, especially with girls (18 to 25 years old), it has been mentioned that even when latrines are gender separated, many do not feel safe using them after the sun is down. Latrines can be further away from where they live and they’re not always able to borrow lamps from neighbors or friends. Some participants have also reported that they would rather remain outside then face a potential danger inside a dark latrine – or even worst, run into someone while in use. Very few women can count on their husbands to escort them, while widows and older women are left with no one to safely accompany them.  

We don’t necessarily fear harassment but sometimes we can meet rats, snakes or frogs […]

Due to fear of harassment, individuals fear coming out at night to access latrines […]  

(Feedback from Jere Madinatu camp - Focus Group Discussion (FGD))

Following over a dozen community meetings and conversations, IOM Nigeria WASH team idea to provide lightning using rechargeable solar lamps has been widely welcomed and increasingly recognized as a simple – yet effective way – to make people feel safer and have more control over sanitation facilities access.

IOM Nigeria WASH program registered over 8,000 women, elderly and disabled people who lived relatively far from sanitation facilities. Prior to distribution, the WASH team conducted several engagement meetings with gatekeepers and other leaders to ensure the most vulnerable benefit from it. Community leaders helped identified priority locations and households, test the rechargeable lamps and commit to report any problems or anti-social behavior that may target those who received the lamps. During distribution of the lamps, the WASH team made sure to explain to beneficiaries how it works, how to recharge it, and most importantly how to keep it safe.  

Lightning has wider benefits that goes beyond the safety of girls and women: it enables safe access to latrines, it ensures people can use clean facilities, and limits open defecation. As mentioned by several recipients, Lighting clearly makes people feel better.

Of course, carrying a lamp would help walk out at night and go to the latrines […]

(Feedback from Konduga Gubio camp Focus Group Discussion (FGD))

The greatest learning point about the rechargeable lamps distribution is that anything done for the camp population needs to be done in close communication and partnership with the people who reside there. Thanks to the close participation and action of community leaders, IOM WASH team was able to respond to a crucial risk.

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