12 May 2007 was a Saturday, and market day in Leku Town, South Ethiopia. At around 10 am, a crowd of about 200 children appeared and the streets filled with shouts. The shouts were not for their soccer team; but for improved health, as part of a demonstration for a clean environment.
Children carried placards condemning open defecation.
One read: “We need to live in clean environment!”
Another read: “Cats do not defecate in the open, but we people do! Let’s learn from cats!”
“We don’t tolerate open defecation!”
“Defecating in open field is a rude and anti-development act.”
People attending the market watched the young people with interest and surprise. The demonstration was organised by Leku School Sanitation Club, passed by with children who had participated in CLTS field exercises in their villages. Police gave the children protection and the event was covered by the local FM radio.