Each year on November 19, Plan International joins the international community in marking a day that focuses on the critical issue of sanitation service delivery–World Toilet Day. Around the world, Plan highlights the importance of sanitation and showcases the progress communities have made to improve their sanitation situations.
Plan is a leader in the field and has pioneered approaches that have significantly impacted the lives and opportunities of communities and households. This World Toilet Day, Plan stressed three key messages:
- Solving the problem of 2.5 billion without access to a toilet is about much more than constructing facilities. Our experience from over the last decade or more is that there will be limited progress without pulling the “big levers of change”– namely, national policy engagement on sanitation; political champions to push through strategy into practice at government level; financing and financial instruments that enable sanitation access; and technical norms and standards that allow engineers to build sustainable and affordable systems.
- A focus on changing behavior is absolutely necessary, but on its own does not sufficiently address the sanitation backlog. At Plan, we have learned (with evidence) what it takes to achieve large-scale, community-wide behavior change. The next frontier of our work lies in understanding what is behind the shift towards sanitation as a long-term social norm, rather than a short-term change.
- We need to be responsive to wider changes in the societies where we work to ensure that our WASH programs remain relevant and impactful – not only to allow us to cope with the rapid demographic shifts that are occurring from traditional rural communities to more dynamic and diverse urban settlements, but also to ensure that our choices around sanitation are resilient to the physical and economic shocks that frequently affect the communities in which we operate.
Here are some highlights of how Plan recognized World Toilet Day in 2014:
Timor Leste: One of Plan’s youth groups marketed their locally made toilet pans at the central market. This initiative is part of Plan’s commitment to building local capacity and supply chains so that the communities can produce sustainable, durable, and affordable sanitation options.
Bangladesh: Plan took part in a rally in Bangladesh with 150 participants. There was also a discussion session about the importance of sanitation and toilets, as well as a quiz session during which participants could win prizes for correct answers. In Upazila, Plan helped to organize a rally and a discussion about the importance of sanitation. There was also an art competition among primary school students with the theme “The importance of improved toilet use.”
Kenya: Plan Kenya took advantage of World Toilet Day to certify 14 villages as officially open defecation free (ODF). These ODF celebrations are used to commemorate the work that the community has put into eliminating open defecation, and to help encourage nearby communities to work towards ODF status.
Cambodia: Plan Cambodia celebrated the start of National Sanitation Month just a few days before World Toilet Day. To commemorate this day, the Ministry of Rural Development, in cooperation with Plan International Cambodia and other development partners, organized a press conference to highlight the dangers of poor sanitation. The press conference highlighted Plan International’s work in Cambodia, working to eliminate open defecation in almost half of the provinces nationwide.