It’s World Toilet Day!

Are you celebrating World Toilet Day?  Do you ever stop to  realize that billions of people around the world do not have access to sanitation facilities like we do in the “developed” world.

According to the World Bank data, only 32% of Kenyans have access to “Improved Sanitation” facilities  – either a toilet or a Ventilated Pit (V.I.P.) Latrine, The latter is basically an outhouse with a decent base, ventilation and a hole on the floor and would be far from what we might call the V.I.P. treatment.

There are many efforts to provide clean water to communities (another luxury for some)  but somehow, latrines are not very sexy to promote for NGO’s doing work in Africa.

Through the CanAssist African Relief Trust we are trying to help.  CanAssist has done several projects involving latrine construction at schools, clinics and in communities.

Over 200 people in the village used this small latrine with no ventilation and a full pit!

Over 200 people in the village used this small latrine with no ventilation and a full pit!

One such community is Osiri Village on Lake Victoria where over 200 people used one small toilet which was run-down and full.  Or, more commonly they used the fields and bush around the village for defecation. Not only is this humiliating and degrading, it fosters spread of bowel infections like Cholera and Typhoid.

New Latrines at Osiri Village - August 2013

New Latrines at Osiri Village – August 2013

CanAssist donors helped provide the community with new latrines in August this year.  Still not enough to serve this many people but better than what was there before.

So today, on World Toilet Day, as you flush that toilet, think of the many, many people around the world who live without that luxury.

“On behalf of  the beach management unit i would like to thank you, the entire board of the trust and also the family whom we learnt donated funds through the trust of CanAssist to put up the 4 doors pit latrine in our beach . Thanks.”  Tobias Katete  b.m.u chairman

A letter from Africa

One of the three completed latrines that will dramatically improve sanitation for students at the Mutundu School in Kenya – funded by CanAssist African Relief Trust

I am happy to share this letter of appreciation from Michael Gichia who has been the African contact with the Murera Community Empowerment group and the Mutundu School where the CanAssist African Relief Trust has funded construction of new latrines and provision of clean water.

See these earlier posts for background on this project.

Sanitation…or lack of it
Sanitation..making progress
Not just new latrines

Dear John,
I hope you are doing fine as we are here in Kenya. I would like to let you know that we have completed the proposed project successfully and I’m taking this opportunity on behalf of MCESO to thank all the trustees, board members, staff and the friends of Can Assist African Relief Trust for their generosity in support of our project titled, provision of clean portable drinking water and construction of enhanced sanitation facilities in Mutundu primary school in Ruiru District 0f Kenya. Your financial commitment has incredibly helped and has allowed us to reach our goal. We would like to let you know that your financial inputs towards our proposed project have greatly helped the project turn into a successful and replicable model and the situation at Mutundu pry school has improved from worst to best.

We pray that may God keep continue giving you good health as well as good will to keep on helping marginalized communities.Please find attached our end project for your files.Too, we have kept all the project invoices safe.We look forward to submitting another project proposal to Can Assist African Relief Trust soon.

Thank you once more and God bless.

Read Michael’s full report on this project here.

Mutundu school latrines

Before and after photos of the boys latrines at Mutundu School. In addition to the latrines, sanitation has been improved by the construction of handwashing stations. CanAssist has been delighted to have funded these sanitation improvements.

Sanitation….or lack of it.

When I was selling my house three years ago, prospective buyers were always anxious to see the kichen and the bathroom(s) as a priority.  What was the bathroom countertop like?  Were there two sinks? A rain shower?  One of those toilet lids that closes quietly without banging?   Magazines and web sites intrigue us with bathrooms where we could luxuriate all day. We in North America are certainly spoiled when it comes to bodily ablutions and evacuations and we have all been in service station washrooms that make us cringe.

According to Unicef and World Health Organization data, less than 35% of the population of Kenya has access to “improved sanitation” – which might just mean a clean ventilated outdoor latrine. Flush toilets for most…forget it.

One of the areas of focus for the Canassist African Relief Trust is to help schools in East Africa improve the situation for their students by constructing new latrines and having rainwater collection for both drinking and washing.

Let’s compare our expectations for sanitary toilet facilities with what some students and teachers endure in Kenya

These are the two buildings that serve as toilets for 300 pupils at the Mutunda School in Kenya

Recently CanAssist received another request for latrines from a school in a region where we were not acquainted with anyone as a contact.  So we sent one of our Kenyan colleagues to check it out.

Initially he was surprised that the request was coming from this community which, on the surface, seemed to be reasonably well off.  But as he went a bit more rurally to one of the schools, even he was shocked by what he found.

The Mutunda Primary School has about 300 pupils and ten teachers.  There are six stances in two toilet buildings to serve the students. The latrine for teachers  had long ago collapsed and was unusable.  The student latrines were in disrepair.  There was no access to water for hand washing.

The toilets that were used by the teachers have collapsed and can not be used. Want to teach here?

Dan sent photos. I have seen other latrines like this in Africa and remember the smell. Just looking at the photos almost made me gag.

The girls’ toilet. No further explanation necessary.

How on earth can you teach young people the health advantages of using clean sanitation facilities and hand-washing when the school toilets look like this?

The school has requested $5000 to build new toilets – ventilated drop toilets that are 30 feet deep. There will be 8 stances for the boys, 8 for the girls and two for the teachers (about $250 for each unit).  They will also install some rainwater catchment gutters on the school building to help promote hand-washing.  Hand-washing has been demonstrated to be as effective as clean drinking water to reduce disease from fecal contamination.

The CanAssist board has yet to review this proposal but I can’t imagine that we will not approve of this project.  How can we refuse? This is not only a matter of sanitation and health but also one of simple dignity.