A young Ivorian boy washes his hands in the village of Monleu after using a latrine. This rural community of 365 residents in western Ivory Coast was once ravaged by cholera. The water­borne disease causes severe diarrhoea and rapid dehydration, and can result in death within hours.

A young boy from Monleu washes his hands.
Photo: Christian Bastiansen/IRC

But preventing cholera is simple, International Rescue Committee health workers told the village's residents. Following their advice, people began using toilets, instead of defecating in the open, and washing their hands with clean water and soap. As a result, Monleu has not seen a single case of the deadly disease in more than a year.

With the IRC's help, the community is trying to keep it that way. They have created a committee that works to ensure that everyone uses the toilet—and that anyone who violates the rule pays a fine. They are also encouraging their neighbouring villages to adopt similar hygiene practices and help prevent the spread of disease.