World Toilet Day 2014 – It’s a revoLOOtion!

18th November 2014

World Toilet Day 2014 – It’s a revoLOOtion!
Toilets are very important to us at Raleigh. We construct them in many forms in rural areas we work in. Last year we built 619 household sanitation units, 5 school sanitation blocks, hundreds of hand washing facilities, water systems and filters. More importantly, we ran 156 health and hygiene awareness raising events.

Working with communities to change habits and build understanding is the most sustainable way of improving health and hygiene.

One of the most important things our volunteers do is to first identify the problem. We visit all the households in the village and run surveys. Community members are most often more than happy to express their concerns and wishes for improvement. This is often a very sensitive part of the process, there is a lot to learn about the differences between lifestyle and culture. Proposed solutions must fit with cultural beliefs, for example in some communities it’s considered unsanitary to have a toilet in your house, but it’s ok to have it outside in your garden.

Responding to the identified needs, alongside any construction projects, volunteers design engaging action days to get the whole community involved in positive change. This year, volunteers in India taking part in International Citizen Service held a community awareness session in order to address the lack of knowledge surrounding disease prevention and good hygiene practices.

We ran a skit with adults and children showing the problems with open defecation. One volunteer (the father) pretended to defecate in the street, leaving rangoli (coloured) powder behind, another volunteer (the baby) crawled through it, then went to the third volunteer (the mother) and demanded to be picked up, passing along the germs, which then went into the food the ‘mother’ prepared, causing D+V in the whole family. The skit drew a lot of laughs and quite a large crowd, but the bit that we all remember most was one woman afterwards telling us “I didn’t know about any of this, I’m going to start washing my hands.”

1 in 3 people do not have the adequate sanitation facilities to prevent illnesses caused by open defecation and this is made worse by a lack of awareness around the hygiene practices many of us take for granted. There are many ways to get involved this World Toilet Day, whether that’s volunteering with us, fundraising for our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes or help us raise awareness, by requesting some of our posters to put up in your local schools, universities, places of work or pubs! To request some posters e-mail info@raleighinternational.org, remember to get permission from your local establishment first!

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