One of the difficult issues facing governments, development agencies, and public health professionals alike is how to get people to poop in latrines. Authorities in Kitgum Uganda have resorted to arresting people without latrines. 29 people thus far have been reportedly arrested and will be forced to do community service and build a latrine (Daily Monitor, 8/3/09). Having been to Kitgum, a place where most of the population has been displaced in camps for years, I am really impressed that they are taking the initiative to prioritize sanitation. May be it is the fear of another Hep E outbreak? May be authorities are just fed up with dealing with cholera each and every year? I wonder how long this “by-law” will be enforced? Will it really work?
Law enforcement in Northern Uganda is surely not efficient and I doubt they will devote too much time to rounding up non-latrine-owners. This type of action could however be part of a larger campaign to create social stigma around open defecation. Many education campaigns and approaches like Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) aim to get the community to identify their state of sanitation and propose solutions to move forward. Could law enforcement from the top help this in any way?