World Toilet Day 2012: Stories of hope and signs of progress

World Toilet Day logo

The 19th November is World Toilet Day, a day to raise awareness of the global sanitation challenge- one in three people on the planet do not have access to a hygienic toilet - and of how much there still is to do to ensure that approximately 2.5 billion of people around the globe gain access to improved sanitation. It's a day to break the silence and taboos around toilets and all things shit. But also a day to celebrate the good work that is being done and what has been achieved already. So we asked people around the world to tell us

what experience, activity or event in the last year to them signals that progress is being made in the area of sanitation?

 Here are some of the responses:

Making sanitation fashionable in VietnamFashionable sanitation in Vietnam

‘In Vietnam, after many triggering stages, now the sanitation demand has increased that high that even the private sector is becoming usual supplier at local level. One year ago, in some northern provinces like Yen Bai and Ha Giang, every poor household was waiting for the subsidies program from government, nowadays, after intensive promotion and awareness campaigns, local masons are identified as services’ providers, and more than 10.000 households are investing their savings in properly constructed hygienic latrines. The key element was to change the promotion concept, from ‘health prevention’ we moved to ‘fashionable sanitation’ where marketable latrines are something cool, related with fresh and styled people, not just and old designed device for feces management – The learnt lesson is that everything still hasn’t been invented’. Submitted by Ricardo Fernández Algora, Fundaçion CODESPA, VIETNAM

CLTS in Maniema, DRCCLTS mapping in DRC

In Maniema Province in eastern DRC, the community in Regeza Village showcase community-led improvements in sanitation, following CLTS triggering in October 2012. Approximately 200 latrines have been completed already by community members, with shower facilities constructed alongside. Both men and women have been involved in this process. More vulnerable community members such as widows sought and received assistance from others in the village in digging latrine pits - in return they prepared food for the men to eat during working hours. The photo shows the community mapping exercise undertaken as part of the CLTS triggering, and the latrines constructed. Submitted by Peter Elim, WASH Advisor, TEARFUND – Democratic Republic of Congo

Touring Toilet AustraliaA giant toilet tours Australia

A Giant Toilet (pictured) has toured Australia since May 2012 travelling from Tamworth to Brisbane, Sydney to Adelaide, Melbourne to Hobart and everywhere in between. Over 10,000 Australians have been involved and helped us to lobby the Australian government to raise our aid allocated to sanitation, above 1% of the overall aid budget, to $250 million per year by 2015. Submitted by Olivia Greenwell, Campaign and Communications Officer, WaterAid Australia

Traditional latrines in Mozambiquetraditional latrine cover Mozambique

Thank you for your e-mail and invitation to share what we have learnt on sanitation. I am sharing with you a short video showing a traditional latrine in a remote community of Muecate, a district in the northern province of Nampula in Mozambique. What is interesting in this video is the innovative side of the work being done. Communities using local material are improvising and producing covers for their latrines making them safer. In this case, there is no contamination due to flies, nor smell in the facility. This is interesting because we have been discussing how safer are the traditional latrines in rural areas and what can we learn from communities. Thus this is a good example of using local material to improve the standards of traditional latrines. This work is being promoted through CLTS in the district, under the National Rural Water and Sanitation programme (PRONASAR) in Mozambique. I have attached also pictures of samples of locally made covers for latrines. They have used grass, mosses and mud to make the covers of their latrines. Submitted by Rita Matangue Zacarias, Climate Change Adviser,  DFID Mozambique

Collaborating for change: bringing sanitation to the most vulnerable in Pikine and Guédiawaye

Flooded area Pikine SenegalIn Pikine and Guédiawaye, in the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal, most people still lack basic sanitation services. These densely populated and impoverished areas are also flood-prone and water often inundates latrines and septic tanks and causes sludge to overflow. This, coupled with unsafe and over-costly desludging practices and poor hygiene practices, is at the root of fecal-oral transmission of diseases which can have lethal consequences.

Oxfam America (OA) and its local partner, Eau, Vie, Environment (EVE), have experience responding to the annual floods in Pikine and were both eager to find an innovative and sustainable solution to improve sanitation conditions. At the same time, the National Office for Sanitation in Senegal (ONAS) had just begun a three-year project to restructure the fecal sludge removal and disposal services. But there remained one problem: poor sanitation at the household level, especially in flood-prone areas. This seemed like a natural niche for OA and EVE to establish an unprecedented collaboration with a government institution – ONAS – in Pikine and Guédiawaye, as well as an innovative approach to involving the private sector, and a unique application of new technologies and methodologies.

OA and EVE plan to develop and test innovative, flood resistant and affordable sanitation facilities at the household level. They also hope to research and analyze community beliefs regarding risks, attitudes, norms and abilities in order to determine the most effective health promotion activities for sanitation and hygiene behavior change. In addition, OA and EVE will investigate the feasibility of using Information Communication Technology to leverage behavioral change. Market research on sanitation services will help promote the new facilities. And the local private sector will be trained on the construction of the selected sanitation facilities. OA hopes that this pioneer project will improve sanitation conditions of the most vulnerable in Pikine and Guédiawaye and help Senegal reach its 2015 millennium goal on sanitation. Submitted by Lara Seigneur, Oxfam America

After You Flush: Faecal Sludge Management in Freetownpit emptying in Sierra Leone

For many of us flushing the toilet is one of the final stages of a routine process we undergo on a daily basis. Few take time to consider that the flush is also the first step of another process vastly more complex than you or I using the loo.

The management of ‘faecal sludge’ is a challenge for even the most developed countries. In Sierra Leone, ranked 180th of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, it is a huge problem. In the capital, Freetown, the sewer system dates back to colonial times; its reach is limited and capacity dangerously overstretched. The majority of toilets empty into underground septic tanks. Just three companies offer mechanical pumping services for septic tanks, all serving a city population of nearly two million people. These services are prohibitively expensive for most households.

The affordable alternative is to use manual emptying groups, usually working under the cover of night for a fraction of the price. This involves one member climbing into the tank to bail out the sludge using buckets. It is then disposed of, unregulated, at an agreed site; it is not uncommon for streams or public drains to be used. Emptiers often work chin-deep in the sludge, and drink and smoke beforehand to increase their tolerance for the job ahead.

In 2012 GOAL has been working with manual groups to pilot safe means of sludge disposal. Affordable manual pumping equipment is being trialled with groups alongside transit options for onward disposal; groups are receiving training on key hygiene practices related to their work; and GOAL is constructing temporal transfer facilities where groups can safely dispose of sludge. These are just the first steps.

This World Toilet Day, spare a thought for what happens after you flush. Submitted by Chris Ford, Goal Sierra Leone

Mapping Shikhraz AfghanistanCLTS in Shikhraz village of Mangajik District in Jawzjan Province

The people of Shikhraz village in Mengajik District of Jawzjan Province, used to suffer from diarrhoeal diseases. When Tearfund got into the area in 2008, it was observed that 95% of the villagers did not have safe excreta disposal facilities and were practising open defection. A rapid assessment confirmed that the villagers did not have the knowledge of the link between open defection and diarrhoeal diseases.

Using the CLTS methodology, Tearfund initially created awareness among the Community Development Committee (CDC), Mullas and Teachers of Shikhraz village. All villagers participated in a CLTS training workshop conducted by Tearfund’s female and male staff in the local language. Part of the training included the villagers drawing their village map on the ground and plotting households, water sources and safe excreta disposal facilities. Posters on the faecal oral route transmission and the sanitation ladder were used during the training.

After the trainings, each household in the community voluntarily committed to building a family latrine as well community latrines at mosques. Forty days after the training workshops, there was a remarkable reduction of open defection. Within seventy days the village was open defection free. The CDC, Mullas and Teachers continue to reinforce messages on drinking safe water, handwashing and safe disposal of excreta. The community members are happy and satisfied with their clean environment. Though Tearfund exited from this community after this project, the community continues to comply with good health and hygiene practices. Shikhraz village is now a model Open Defection Free village in Mangajik District. Submitted by Marjorie Arotin, Grants and Information Coordinator, Tearfund Afghanistan

Partnerships for sanitation in Kariobangi, Nairobi

In 2011 Global Peace Festival Foundation/ Global Peace Youth Corps did a base line survey in Kariobangi a low income estate in Nairobi. Among the key issues that the community raised were sanitation (poor access to toilet facilities, broken sewers, poorly disposed garbage), unemployment, health, peace and security. Thus our efforts are underway toward addressing these issues through engaging the community and various partners. We have partnered with East Africa Breweries Limited Foundation on a water for life project that resulted in putting up four water tanks of 35,000 litres in the health centre in Kariobangi and two in the community for World Water Day celebrations in March. This created a lot of interest and now one of the government bodies has been able to erect an ablution block with eight doors (four for women and four for men) for the health facility which serves 250 patients day. Previously, the health had only one toilet for both men and women. With this new facility the community will now have increased access to sanitation. We look forward to other partnerships that will see us enhance sanitation and reduce the open defecation in other parts of Kariobangi. Submitted by Japheth Ouda, Program Coordinator, Community Development, Global Peace Festival Foundation, Kenya

Date: 15 November 2012
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