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World Toilet Day: Children lead the way

Plan UK - Fri, 30 Nov 2012 12:46 GMT
Author: Plan UK
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19 November 2012: Children in rural Kampong Cham, Cambodia, are leading the charge for latrines to be installed in their community this World Toilet Day, in a bid to stop the spread of disease.

Copyright- Plan, Tiep Seiha

Holding banners with the words "I don’t want to eat my excrement any more. Please build a latrine for me", the children regularly march through their villages to raise awareness about the true cost of poor sanitation.

Copyright- Plan, Tiep Seiha

Children working on their sanitation campaign messages. Globally, almost 2,000 children die every day from unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Copyright- Plan, Tiep Seiha

A young person delivering a concrete latrine cover. So far the project has helped an extra 40,000 people have access to decent toilets.

Copyright- Plan, Tiep Seiha

A young person delivering a concrete latrine cover. So far the project has helped an extra 40,000 people have access to decent toilets.

Three years ago, just 8% of households in Kampong Cham had latrines, which meant that most people defecated out in the open, contaminating food and water supplies and increasing the risk of disease.

Supported by Plan, the children and their community are turning things around and have already managed to increase latrine coverage to 23% of households.

The ability to build latrines has been a key element of the success. Plan trains young people in the skills required to cast the concrete parts that constitute the latrines, which has provided the unemployed with the means to generate an income. It has also helped an extra 40,000 people to have access to decent toilets.

According to Hilda Winartasaputra, Plan’s water and sanitation specialist in Asia, 1 in 3 people in the world are forced to defecate in the open because they have nowhere else to go.

“Open defecation can cause contamination of water, food and soil and increases the number of flies and insects carrying excreta and spreading disease. When people do not wash their hands before meals and after defecating it further increases the risk of disease. World Heath Organisation statistics show that more than 1 in 10 child deaths - about 800,000 per year worldwide - is caused by diarrhoea.”

Plan works to stop open defecation through ‘Community-Led Total Sanitation’, which focuses on triggering communities - often children and young people - to take action and champion good hygiene.

In 2012, Plan supported 417,911 households worldwide to improve their sanitation facilities, and helped communities to build or refurbish 3,796 water points.

World Toilet Day on 19 November celebrates the importance of toilets and sanitation. Find out more via the World Toilet Day website*.

Learn more about Plan’s global water and sanitation work

Read about Plan's work in Cambodia

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