Plan Celebrates World Toilet Day
An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide lack proper sanitation, most living in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Globally, this amounts to 1 in 3 people not having a toilet and about 1.1 billion practicing open defecation.
This has large implications on the day-to-day life of children, families, and their communities. The lack of proper sanitation directly affects health, education, human dignity, and the livelihoods of men, women, and children. Diarrheal disease remains the second largest cause of death for children under the age of 5 —that’s more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.
The lack of proper sanitation creates particular risk for women and girls. Women and girls make up just about half of the global population, though they often do not have access to clean and private toilet facilities at schools and at home. This poses a huge threat to their health, safety, economic stability, attendance, and retention in school.
In India, recent studies show that 23% of girls drop out of school once they reach puberty due to lack of adequate school based sanitation facilities and privacy. Access to proper menstrual hygiene is critical to keeping girls in schools. Not only does providing knowledge and access to menstrual hygiene products prevent emotional stress for girls, it limits physical complications such as urinary infections and other diseases. By limiting hygiene challenges faced by girls, specifically while entering puberty, they are more likely to regularly attend and stay in school.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, the subject of toilets, open defecation, and its consequences are often a taboo. Community members and political leaders shy away from addressing this subject, meanwhile billions of people worldwide are suffering and dying from the lack of this basic human right —sanitation.
Plan International celebrates World Toilet Day, an international day of action, held each November 19th, with the aim of calling attention to the global sanitation challenge and breaking the taboo which surrounds it.
Plan International is working across the globe to address this global sanitation challenge in innovative and sustainable ways. Plan International Kenya, currently our largest country office, recognizes the impact that sanitation has not only within the health sector, but across all of its program areas, such as education, livelihoods, and protection, specifically in regards to women and children. In particular, through the implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in many of its program units, Plan Kenya promotes community participation and engagement with service providers for improved child and maternal health and access to safe water.
On November 19th, Plan International Kenya will be an active participant at the National World Toilet Day in Nambale, a recently declared open defecation free (ODF) district. In addition to the national celebration, Plan International Kenya will host numerous sanitation and hygiene events throughout its program units, reaching an estimated 2000 individuals. These events not only will provide education on the importance of adequate sanitation and proper hygiene techniques. During these celebrations, Plan will address the importance of once reaching ODF status, how to ensure sustainable behavior change, the critical need for access to affordable products and solutions, and the importance of including outside actors such as the media in order to keep sanitation and hygiene on the agenda for continued development and innovation.
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through the Testing CLTS Approaches for Scalability project, Plan International USA will address many of the known sanitation gaps and inequalities through a creative partnership with the University of North Carolina’s Water Institute.
The project will test the effectiveness of local actors taking the lead in facilitating CLTS with communities and draw comparisons to more conventional forms of CLTS implementation relying on NGO facilitation. The project – now at the start of its second year – has recently published a systematic review of thinking on CLTS facilitation approaches, undertaken a comprehensive situational assessment of CLTS implementation in Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana and will shortly begin the implementation phase involving triggering of communities in each project country.