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World Toilet Day: Raising Awareness and Sharing Knowledge

 

November 19 marks World Toilet Day to raise global awareness of the 2.6 billion people who lack access to proper sanitation, and the millions of lives lost because of it.

Efforts to increase access to water, sanitation, and hygiene not only advance progress towards reaching the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7), but also contribute to the reduction in child mortality (MDG 4) and reduction in malnutrition (MDG 1). Access to improved sanitation facilities can even prevent young girls from dropping out of school.

In addition to raising awareness and advocacy, World Toilet Day, driven by the World Toilet Organization, also provides an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative solutions to the world’s sanitation crisis.

Gaining Access for 8.2 Million

In India, Indonesia, and Tanzania, the Water and Sanitation Program’s (WSP) Global Scaling Up Rural SanitationProject has reached significant milestones during the past year. To date, an estimated 8.2 million people have gained access to, and use improved sanitation, and over 5,000 communities have become Open Defecation Free (ODF).

The project focuses on learning how to combine the approaches of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), behavior change communications, and social marketing of sanitation to generate sanitation demand and strengthen the supply of sanitation products and services at scale, leading to improved health for people in rural areas. It is a large-scale effort to meet the basic sanitation needs of the rural poor who do not currently have access to safe and hygienic sanitation. The project is being implemented by local and national governments with technical support from WSP.

Responding to Challenges

During implementation, the project has responded to several challenges. For example, to address the increasing demand for improved sanitation facilities, WSP has piloted several programs to help suppliers keep up with demand.  In Tanzania, Rufiji district has piloted a mason fund with the cooperation of local suppliers of cement, wire mesh, and other materials. In this arrangement, masons compile lists of customer orders and present them to ward officers for validation and notarization. The masons, all of whom have been trained by the project, present these official lists to suppliers upon the purchase of manufacturing materials. Once construction is complete, the masons reimburse their suppliers with revenues collected from households. In the first round, masons borrowed and repaid suppliers for the equivalent of US$200 worth of building materials.

In Tanzania, WSP supported the government roll out of a village registration system to improve performance monitoring, and in India, WSP is addressing the challenge of verifying the ODF status of communities, a process which has lagged due to limited institutional capacity.

Achieving Sustainability

To achieve sustainability, WSP is working with local and national governments to strengthen the enabling environment, including advocacy to increase rural sanitation budgets. To date, more than US$33 million has been spent by local and national governments in support of scaling up rural sanitation.