PAKWACH. The porous nature of soils in Jonam County is frustrating the community and district health officials in their bid to achieve the 100 per cent maximum latrine coverage.

Community members say they use lots of money and time to construct the latrines yet they take a short time before they begin to develop cracks and eventually sink.

Several community members whom West Nile Web spoke to said the trend has not left them any option but to defecate in the open.

Mr Oketha Jumanywal, a resident of Jumedi cell in Pakwach town council said the cost of constructing local latrine is draining and many community members cannot afford them.

"In the past six months, two of my latrines have collapsed, besides, the cost of constructing one ranges from shs70,000 to shs100,000, this burden is extra for the poor to handle", he said.

In Wadelai sub county, where the Netherland Development Organisation (SNV) has partnered with Pakwach district local government to implement water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme, Mr Peter Onekalit the village chairperson of Mutir central said the efforts of the organisation in scaling up latrine usage at household level has been hampered by poor soil.

"Our soil is making it very difficult for families to have long-lasting toilets, we were trained but I'm afraid that more will collapse during this rainy season", the frustrated Onekalit said.

Onekalit reitated that the community is taking advantage of the situation to breed negative attitude towards constructing reasonable latrine that can withstand the topography of the area and urged the district health team to intensify community sensitization and provision of alternative latrine construction.

Ms Judith Kigezi Fuathum, the Pakwach district health inspector said limited community latrine coverage is drastically affecting the attainment of 100 per cent which currently stands at 70.1per cent.

She said as an alternative, the community has been empowered to construct offset latrines where the excavation of the pit don't go deep but the community is hesitant to adopt it due to frequent water usage.

"We are in a community where the majority are mobile in nature and as a result, they don't prioritize the construction of latrines in their homes, this is a major disease we are battling", she said.

She revealed that despite poor soil nature diminishing the efforts, the dilemma of poor handwashing habits is still on the rise and community latrine sharing constraining the few health facilities.

Numerous strategies to empower the community to reduce the risks of using depleted community latrines have been put in place like training community masons to improve the quality of the latrines by placing smooth and washable squatters and venturing in piped water for washing hands.

Kigezi also expressed frustration in the water coverage of schools and other institutions saying most of them are in disarray and at the brink of collapse as they are still being used by learners and the teachers.

But Mr Ocakacon Avola, the district engineer said they have tried minimizing cracks on the latrines resulting from poor soil that retains excessive water by revamping the design with an emphasis on adopting V-column design fitted at each corner of latrine stance.

As a means to increase latrine coverage and hygiene in the community, the district is working with organisations like Africa water solution in the prone sub counties of Alwi and Panyango.

Their main emphasis is to build the capacity of leaders at grassroots in the management of latrines and water hygiene.