World Toilet Day: we call for sanitation dignity and safety

23 November 2016
Prakesh Amatya, Technical Advisor to GUTHI, writes about their recent World Toilet Day celebrations and community engagements. 
 
Today we are witnessing a silent sanitation crisis that is tickling like a deadly time bomb, affecting billions of people around the world. Of the 7 billion people currently on the planet, 2.4 billion do not have access to improved sanitation. Over 1 billion people still defecate in the open, and an estimated 1,000 children die each day due to poor sanitation. Many women and children becomes victim of poor health and terrible circumstances due to the lack of toilets. These numbers are terrifying and this has to change. 
 
In Nepal, even though the sanitation coverage has now reached 70.28% of the population, compared to the mere 6% in 1990, the functionality of sanitation services and structures has been neglected. The issue of accessing public toilets is particularly a big challenge for the disabled population which comprises nearly 15% of the total population in the country. The general lack of suitable services, and the delayed initiation for constructing differently-abled friendly toilets, hinder the component of inclusive WASH provisioned by the Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan. There are various issues of WASH for physically challenged people that go unheard and unaddressed.
 
With this staggering and sobering background regarding the severe limited accessibility of toilets, GUTHI is commemorating the World Toilet Day on 19 November in partnership with WaterAid Nepal this year to reflect on the challenges and necessary interventions needed for the differently able communities in our country. The focus group interactions shall be held on 19 November, with the members of Visually Impaired at GWAHALI to raise the pressure and demand to make toilets more inclusive and dignified, and with the members of National Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NADH) on 23 November.
 
School children in Nepal gather to learn about the importance of sanitation ahead of World Toilet Day 2016. Photo credit: GUTHI, Nepal. 
 
To sensitise the sanitation issues amongst school going children, GUTHI - with the support of the International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA) - carried out toilets cleaning activities with the participation of the students of Vishwo Niketan High School (public), Tripureshwor and teachers ahead of World Toilet Day.
 
Addressing the function, Tripti Rai - Country Representative for WaterAid Nepal - said, “For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in towns or cities. By 2050, that’s expected to rise to two-thirds. For many, particularly the poor, who have moved to towns or cities in search of work or born into the urban population, find themselves in overcrowded and rapidly expanding informal settlements which lack safe, private toilets and clean water sources. Diseases like cholera or typhoid can spread further and faster without proper sanitation and hygiene practices and an outbreak found in an informal settlement can quickly become a city-wide, national or international epidemic. This World Toilet Day, we are calling on national leaders to deliver on their promises to meet the UN’s Global Goal 6 to bring water and sanitation to all, because everyone – no matter where they live – deserves affordable access to these life essentials.”
 
Prakash Amatya, Technical Advisor to GUTHI urged that investments in school sanitation are urgent, and it is a key to change the sanitation paradigm of the coming generation. One child dies every two minutes from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Globally 159 million children under five have their physical and cognitive development stunted; many of such cases are caused from repeated bouts of diarrhoea attributed to dirty water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. It is time we stop this and help ensure a better future for all, especially the new generation. 
 
The school toilets cleaning camping kicked off with the massive welcoming by the students, received the cleaning equipment from GUTHI and commitment was made to continue it in the days to come.

Follow GUTHI on Facebook to keep up to date with their great work on WASH in Nepal! 

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