Tag Archives: World Toilet Day

You’ll Never Look at Your Toilet the Same Way Again

By Martin Nanawa, ChildFund Philippines

Each Nov. 19, World Toilet Day is observed as reminder that 2.6 billion people lack access to toilets and proper sanitation. This year, sanitation is a particular worry in the Philippines where families have been living in a tent city for several months after floods submerged their homes.

In rural areas of the Philippines, toilets – when you can find them –
consist of just a basic bowl with no lift-up seat. These are usually made of ceramic, but among poorer communities, toilets are often made of concrete. Water closets are rare, mainly because the local water supply is irregular. Even where there’s water in the tap, many people prefer to flush manually using a pail, claiming it saves more water than a modern flush.

men walking among tent camp

ChildFund staff survey tent camps.

For 297 Filipino families currently living at the relocation tent city at Marianville, located in the Laguna province town of Bay [Ba-e], even the rough, concrete toilets would be preferable, as the camp’s makeshift latrines offer only rudimentary sanitation.

Heavy monsoon rains inundated the Philippine capital of Manila and surrounding locales in early August. Floodwater from Manila drained into Laguna Lake, south of the capital, swelling it to dangerous levels. Simultaneous with Manila’s recovery, towns like Bay were submerged in water, chest-deep in many areas. Rice fields became lakes and homes drowned in water that quickly turned dark and septic as the flood lingered. Many families had no choice but to evacuate to designated shelters. From there, they were moved to tent camps where they’d wait out the floods, which would recede in the sun, but would quickly fill again when it rained.

young girls holding hands

Young girls are taught simple safety steps.

Many children reside in the tent community at Marianville. For the past several months, ChildFund has responded with emotional and psychological support activities through Child-Centered Spaces set up at the camp. Children’s safety and protection remains paramount as families endure the long wait to return home.

ChildFund staff inspect latrines

Although latrines at relocation camps are spartan, ChildFund works to ensure they are safe for children.

ChildFund’s focus on child protection is doubly important in irregular circumstances such as disaster, according to Hubert Par, a ChildFund sponsor relations officer who also serves on the Emergency Response Team. “Children are especially vulnerable in crowded tent camps, particularly as the toilets are common [not private], and are often constructed from available materials,” Par says.

Since summer, ChildFund has worked with its local partner to train first responders, local authorities and youth volunteers to educate children and families living in the tent community on simple steps for keeping children safe, especially when nature calls.

ChildFund has worked with camp managers to make sure separate latrines were set up for males and females, with neither facility located more than 50 meters from the camp proper. “We also made sure camp managers and residents kept the discipline of never sending a child to the restrooms alone. Children should be accompanied by a caregiver when going to the common latrines,” says Par. “We also inform them of mechanisms by which they can report any child protection issues that may arise,” he adds.

Kerzon, 16-year-old youth volunteer, has become a strong advocate for child protection, in addition to his daily response work in the camp, and his duties as a local youth council representative. “As a Child-Centered Space volunteer, I’m proud not just of being able to help, but also because I’m able to share practical knowledge, specifically about child protection,” he says.

Although families long to return to and repair their homes, flood levels remain up to 3 feet deep in Bay. Although the comfort of home and a private restroom must wait, ChildFund is working to ensure that the camp’s plywood and plastic common latrines are safe for children.

If you would like to help children around the world who lack a proper toilet, please consider a gift to the Children’s Greatest Needs fund.

The World Needs More Toilets

pit latrine

A pit latrine in Ethiopia

Americans take their bathrooms for granted, but for 2.6 billion people worldwide, a toilet is a luxury. To raise awareness of global sanitation needs, Nov. 19 is designated World Toilet Day.

“Children often suffer the most because of limited access to clean water and poor sanitation,” said Sarah Bouchie, ChildFund’s vice president for program development. “Poor sanitary conditions lead to more disease and less food, and precious family income must be spent on purchasing water or dealing with the effects of illness.”

A toilet in Vietnam

Responding to water and sanitation issues is a primary component of ChildFund’s work to help children around the world.

Beginning in 2008, ChildFund helped Nam Phong, a village of 3,600 in Vietnam, construct latrines and water supply systems. Community members were also taught to adopt hygienic practices, which helped clean up streams and roads in the community.

In Timor-Leste, where 70 percent of people have no access to sanitary bathrooms, ChildFund built latrines, a community bathroom and provided hygiene training to children and families. In Afghanistan, we are partnering with UNICEF to teach children about sanitation and hand washing. ChildFund Afghanistan has assisted some 6,000 former IDPs (internally displaced people), refugees and vulnerable families lacking quality housing and bathrooms. We’ve provided building materials and a small economic incentive to help families construct a two-room house and latrine.

An initiative to install latrines in elementary schools in Mexico provides students privacy and protection, increasing their likelihood of staying in school. Girls in particular are less likely to attend school if there are no bathrooms.

“Improved sanitation in schools, better access to clean water and knowledge about how to prevent waterborne disease helps ensure the health and development of the world’s children,” Bouchie said.

Celebrate World Toilet Day and help flush out poverty.

Why Focus on World Toilet Day?

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

Today is World Toilet Day. And if that very thought causes you to laugh, that’s OK. We need more good-humored, regular people on the planet.

After you enjoy a few jokes and bad puns, you actually should be in the right frame of mind to think seriously about a world problem.

Some 2.6 billion people (nearly half of the world’s population) don’t have access to toilets and proper sanitation, according to the 2010 Update by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.

Diarrheal diseases kill five times as many children in the developing world as HIV/AIDS, UNICEF reports.

Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection, according to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.

Each of these facts is daunting on its own, yet ChildFund has found that lack of proper sanitation also contributes to poverty perpetuation. When children, especially girls, do not have access to adequate bathroom facilities at school, they don’t attend class. Who knew that a lack of toilets contributes to illiteracy?

When young children attend schools without latrines or even soap and water to wash their hands, disease spreads quickly. Attending school shouldn’t be a health hazard. But for so many children, that’s exactly the risk they face. All because they don’t have access to sanitary facilities. Conditions are often no better for them at home, where untreated sewage pollutes villages and water sources.

So, on World Toilet Day, it comes down to action. Take a stand against disease and poverty by educating your friends and families about the importance of toilets. Even better, make a commitment to help fund a project like ChildFund’s effort to build six latrines for an elementary school in Mexico. The latrines will greatly improve sanitation and privacy, while reducing the risk of disease for boys and girls who just want to learn.