Ending Open Defecation to Save Lives: World Toilet Day 2011 in Kenya

The last one month we have been really busy gearing up for the World Toilet Day. This is the fifth year running that Plan International Kenya will be celebrating World Toilet Day. As usual we celebrate this day on the ground where villages have attained Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. The first (2007), second (2008) and third (2009) year we celebrated in Kilifi, the 4th (2010) in Homa Bay County. This year the celebrations will be in Siaya County.

There are many activities in the week leading up to the climax on the 19th November. As I write this blog the Vitimb comedians are engaged in mobile theatre road shows in various markets in Siaya including K’Obama (Obama’s ancestral homeland). In Mathare, where we have been doing the urban CLTS work, this day will be used to celebrate achievements made so far. The focus is “Ending Open Defecation to Save Lives”. We are also working on short articles to be published in the local dailies on the 19th November, eg this one in the Standard There will also be a poster with provocative messages in Kiswahili. On one side of the page it will read, “Shitting in the Open is Harmful” (Kunya Hadhara Huleta Madhara: Kunya kwa Choo, Okoa Maisha) and it will have an explicit caricature of a man shitting in the open. On the other side it will read “Shitting in the Toilet Saves Lives” and it will have a caricature of a woman shitting in the toilet. We are discussing this with the media house- I fear they may say this is too explicit. The art work has been done by a youth in Kwale County and it is very strong.

There is also a series of local media activities planned in the different counties where we work. These include radio and TV talk shows. I am scheduled to appear on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Good Morning Kenya show with a colleague from the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHD). In the 8 counties where we work, colleagues and Natural Leaders will also participate in local radio station broadcasts.

The climax will be on the 19th November when the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation will convene a gathering at Agulu Primary School in Bolo Division Siaya District. The key activities will involve a transect walk in the ODF villages around the school and a ceremony with music, dance and speeches from natural leaders, local leaders and government officials. We have invited Mama Sarah Obama (President Obama’s Grandmother). We are hoping to triggering in her village as we have learned that open defecation is an issue. We are also grooming her to become a CLTS champion in Nyanza Region which has high levels of open defecation.

As it turns out I will celebrate this day aboard a plane headed to Australia – I will see if I can influence the crew to make an announcement about the day and urge people to use the toilet well. I will let you know if I have any luck.

Date: 18 November 2011
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