By: WASH R&E “Media” Network |
In Observance of World Toilet Day 2018 (November 19), WaterAid Liberia is reiterating calls on the Government of Liberia to commence action towards prioritising sanitation for all.
This is followed by a new Report by WaterAid showing that the education and health of millions of children is threatened by a lack of access to toilets at school and at home.
“The Crisis in the Classroom”, WaterAid’s fourth-annual Analysis of the world’s toilets, highlights that one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets.
A shocking one in three of the world’s schools lack adequate toilets, compromising children’s human rights to sanitation and leaving them to either use dirty, unsafe pits, defecate in the open, or stay at home.
The 2018 World Toilet Day theme “When Nature Calls”, emphasises the need for exploring nature-based solutions to the current sanitation challenges we face as a nation and to provide sustainable resolutions through the functioning of natural systems. This means that we must focus on harnessing the power of ecosystems in capturing and treating human waste to producing useful resources such as fertilisers to help grow crops. It also means that we must not just focus on ending open defecation, we must also work to ensure that human waste that is captured does not still contaminate the environment and affect human health as well as livelihoods.
Prioritisation of sanitation at all levels through the value chain –capture to safe disposal – and improve budget allocations to the sector. Governments need to invest more money in sanitation and ensure an integrated approach and improved transparency in monitoring and reporting.
“Toilets can make the difference between a child attending school, coming late or staying at home. School attendance and participation can be greatly enhanced just by providing toilets. Schools are where children learn how to become wholesome human beings and good toilet behaviour is a fundamental.
“Without ongoing investment and a concerted effort from all decision-makers, children, who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society, will continue to miss out on their futures.
Also, citizens need to change their behaviour and take responsibility for having decent toilets at home as much as they hold government accountable for providing this basic service. Sanitation is a basic right for all and can’t just be an ideal. It must be a priority.”
Among the other findings in the State of the World’s Toilets report released by WaterAid:
Children living in communities without decent toilets are at higher risk of diarrhoea. Sadly, diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation kills 289,000 children under five each year.
Diarrhoea and intestinal infections kill nearly 140,000 children aged between five and 14 each year – many of which could be prevented with clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.
Across South Asia, more than a third of girls miss school for between one and three days a month during their period.
As many as one in three schools in Madagascar don’t have any functioning toilets at all. It is the third worst country in the world for access to a decent toilet at home – just one person in ten has at least basic sanitation.
Papua New Guinea comes third in the list of countries where the proportion of people with decent toilets at home and school is decreasing. There nearly 220 children under five die each year from water and sanitation-related diarrhoea, and polio – a waterborne disease – has recently returned to the island after being eradicated in 2000.
Nearly seven in ten schools in Zambia now have basic toilets, and three quarters of children are able to complete their primary education.
Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, says:
“Children in every country of the world need access to safe toilets at home and at school. Their health, education and safety depend on it. Every child should be able to go to the toilet safely and with dignity whether they are at school or at home. Bringing safe toilets to the one in three schools worldwide with no adequate toilets, should be a top priority – along with bringing decent household toilets to the 2.3 billion people still waiting.
“Progress towards any of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. If we are serious about all children and young people, wherever they are, whatever their gender, physical ability or community background, having their right to clean water and sanitation, we must take decisive and inclusive action now.”
This year and as in recent times, the commemoration of World Toilet Day is driven by the aim to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030, in line with one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 6. Sadly, Liberia has made little or no progress in realising this target.
Education and Finance Ministers, as well as donors, to invest in sanitation services and establish credible plans for achieving universal access within an agreed timeframe.
Better coordination between key sectors Ministries to develop, implement and monitor joint programmes in order to measure the impact of interventions and contribute to data availability.
School sanitation to meet the specific needs of girls in order to ensure their privacy, safety and dignity when managing menstruation and on other school days.
School sanitation to be inclusive, enabling children with disabilities to use clean, safe, accessible toilets at school.
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets.