At a time when people’s lives are at risk due to a pandemic, and saving lives depends on proper sanitary practices, World Toilet Day marks one of the most important days in the 2020 calendar. This is an official United Nations observation which aims to raise awareness of some 4,2 billion people still living without access to safe water and sanitation practices.
So, just how do toilets save lives?
For millions of people living in poor, rural areas, the ceramic toilet that we are accustomed to, and probably take for granted every day in the Western world, is non-existent. Instead, outside ‘toilets’ in the form of a pit in the ground, or even open defecation is the normal practice. This, coupled with the fact that there is generally no focus on good hygiene practices, can be deadly. These areas are often close to local rivers, resulting in the faecal matter being found in the only available water source, which is also the community’s drinking water.
The water carriers are most often women and young girls accompanied by younger children, making them the most susceptible to the dangers of disease outbreaks due to unsanitary practices and dirty water sources. In these villages, access to water is most times a good distance away, and requires a daily journey in order to collect water. This poses other safety risks, including attacks and sometimes even rape.
Due to no fault of their own, lack of adequate sanitation and clean water leaves little choice but to utilise what is available. This has resulted in very high mortality rates in children under the age of five years, with close to 300 000 children who die annually due to poor sanitation.
A programmatic focus at JAM is Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) aimed at improving and promoting good hygiene practices in the communities in which we serve. World Toilet Day aligns with sustainable sanitation, to ensure that communities not only have access to proper sanitation, but they are aware of the dangers posed by dirty water sources. The importance of educating communities about vital hygiene practices goes hand in hand with our other programmes which include clean water provision, food and nutrition as well as school improvement projects – all aimed at safe, sustainable sanitary practices to improve the lives of these precious people.
Our Water and Sanitation projects consist of:
- WASH material and education
- Clean hand campaigns
- Soap and sanitizer provision
- Provision of makeshift taps and containers
- Provision of clean water in the form of boreholes, including empowering communities to maintain these water sources
All of the above are a vital part of JAM’s COVID-19 response plan.
World Toilet Day places a focus on Global Goal No 6 which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
We remain committed to saving lives and keeping communities healthy.
Global CEO and Co-founder