Water for Women celebrates World Toilet Day | 19th November 

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Today, on World Toilet Day we acknowledge the importance of safe & accessible toilets for everyone. Yet sadly, 4.2 billion people across the world still lack access to toilets.

Through Water for Women, Australia is working to change this in the Indo-Pacific region by delivering safe and accessible toilets to communities in need. 

It is also important to recognise that those who do not have access to a decent toilet are more likely to be the poorest and most marginalised in their communities. That is why, in any work we do, we must ensure that we "leave no one behind.

People with disabilities, women, girls and other marginalised groups face multiple forms of discrimination when it comes to accessing sanitation facilities. Water for Women is changing this by ensuring that the voices of marginalised people and groups are heard in the planning and delivery process. Leaving no one behind is critical to achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.

But what makes a toilet ‘adequate’ and ‘equitable’ for all? 
Read our latest discussion reflecting on this question.

Our partners are doing incredible work across the Indo-Pacific region and for this World Toilet Day, we asked them to show us what they have been up to and how they are leaving no one behind in the sanitation work that they do.

Lady holds up a glass of water in front of a group

A toilet for all

In Nepal, SNV has supported progress in addressing the sanitation challenge long term with the country achieving a significant milestone this year – all 77 districts being declared Open Defecation Free #ODF

"Sanitation has been about movement building behind an uncompromisable objective for all, and by all. Thousands of stakeholders from various backgrounds and sectors were behind this achievement - from national/ local government officials, to politicians, local leaders, sanitation champions, interest groups, individual journalists and the wider media, private sector suppliers and service providers, religious entities, and donors and development organisations inside and outside of Nepal, and rights holders themselves." 

Read more: The journey to a sanitation milestone in Nepal

But the hard work does not stop there. With support from Australia through Water for Women, SNV are now working to deliver ‘Beyond the Finish Line.’ A first step has been to improve our understanding of the experiences of people with disabilities in accessing toilets, with formative research findings allowing SNV to better understand the challenges and develop better, more sustainable solutions and #LeaveNoOneBehind when it comes to safe and accessible toilets.

Elderly Fijian man looks at camera

A toilet is a dignity-protector

“Having a proper toilet is an important part of my life and I am so grateful and very appreciative that my toilet has been upgraded to a proper fully functioning flush toilet.”

Sixty-six year old Akuila (left) and his wife Anaseini have often struggled to access clean water and proper sanitation, a challenge made even more difficult since Akuila acquired his disability in 2001. Akuila and Anaseini, from Soso village, are just two of many Fijian’s benefitting from Habitat for Humanity's support of 50 communities in in Ra and Ba in Fiji.

Lady holds newborn baby with a nurse nearby

A toilet is a life-saver

Safe births require access to safely managed water and sanitation (WASH) services to ensure the health of both mother and baby during and post-delivery. That is why WaterAid is working with Jhipego and the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports to improve the quality of WASH in health care facilities by combining both improved WASH and Infection Prevention Control (IPC).  A Quality Improvement Tool was recently developed to help health care facilities identify gaps in the services, including where appropriate toilets need to be installed, improved and maintained. 

Read more

Smiling woman outside building being built

A toilet is an opportunity-maker

“Next, we will go to Oddar Meanchey,”

explains Ms. Hat Tin, matter-of-factly, about her plans to expand her business to a neighbouring province of her home in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

“Look around. These machines, this truck, most of this whole place, it probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t choose to start working with iDE.”

Her small business has grown significantly over the years since starting to work with iDE Cambodia’s sanitation marketing program. 

iDE is supporting people like Ms Hat Tin reach new heights with her business and help others in Cambodia access safe and sustainable toilets.

Group of people at a celebration

A first in West Guadalcanal

A lot can happen in a year when we work together. Paila Village in Solomon Islands had no latrines and the population was practicing open defection at the start of the year. Through our work with Plan International and Live and Learn in the delivery of ‘New Times, New Targets’ Paila village has recently been declared by Solomon Islands Government as the first “no open defecation” village in West Guadalcanal. An incredible achievement by the community and our partners!

Drumming children in the street

ODF celebrations continue in Timor-Leste

where we are partnering with WaterAid to deliver safe and accessible toilets to communities in need and leave no one behind. Recently, Manufahi became the fifth municipality in Timor-Leste to be declared ‘Open Defecation-Free’ (ODF), bringing the country another step closer to eradicating the practice of open defecation and achieving universal access to sanitation. An excellent reason to celebrate!

“This program helps educate us to stay healthier and much more hygienic. Our communities no longer use forests and open spaces to defecate.”

- Chief of Daisua village Amorin da Costa

This declaration means that around 64,000 people across 29 villages, and 136 sub-villages in Manufahi municipality now have basic access to toilets.

While this is a large milestone, it is not the end of the road for our work in Timor-Leste. WaterAid is already starting on the next step, supporting local governments in both Manufahi and Likisa municipalities to go beyond ODF and work towards ‘Hygienic village status’, whereby all households and institutions will have improved toilets and handwashing facilities.

toilet innovation
young disabled girl outside bathroom

"I want a better way to be able to use the toilet."

Liti has a disability and using a pit toilet without assistance is almost impossible for her.

In Vanuatu, Water for Women is partnering with World Vision to empower women and people with disability with a platform and space to self-advocate for their own WASH needs.

This is allowing innovations like this portable toilet (above) from Tuburah Sanitation Enterprise and Samapeta Sanitation Enterprise to create a healthier, accessible and inclusive environment for Liti and all who face barriers accessing a toilet.

Systems strengthening and building knowledge and capacity at multiple touchpoints is key to achieving this goal and leaving no one behind. As one school headmaster in Lao PDR explains:

“school toilets are not easy to use for children with disability. But we don’t know how to adapt [toilets] to their needs. We need examples.”  

SNV is working to support school management to tailor improvement plans to support universal access and importantly link to district governance process, strengthening the support beyond the school level, so that young women such as this one can enjoy safe and accessible toilet facilities - always.

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