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From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives
By Clem van den Bersselaar, member of Rotary
Club of Ormoc Bay (Philippines)
you ask a Filipino living in a rural area of the Philippines where they go to
the toilet, they will turn their head towards a non-specific direction and say
“over there.” This means that they use any location that gives them some sort
of privacy to do their needs. Women generally have to go longer distances to
avoid prying eyes and avoid assaults. In fact, when one talks to local
community health workers about the risks of open defecation, they tell you
about parasitic and bacterial infections while also emphasizing the high
percentage of women being molested or harassed.
November 2013, part of the Leyte province in the Philippines was hit by the
devastating typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst typhoon affecting 25 million
people and claiming nearly 6000 lives while leaving tremendous damage
throughout the island.
after the typhoon, Rotary clubs from various countries came to the rescue.
Local clubs responded with food supplies and worked with NGOs to begin
rebuilding homes. Once immediate relief was provided, the focus shifted to meet
sanitary requirements in restoring water supply and the construction of toilet
Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay identified the WAND Foundation (Water, Agro-forestry,
Nutrition and Development) as having the expertise to construct 20,000 latrines
together with various NGO’s immediately after the typhoon in the province of
Samar in the Philippines. WAND Foundation’s previous contacts with the Malmö
(Sweden) International Rotary Club, provided a natural connection to propose
this project at the 8th Multi Club Workshop (MCW) held in Ischia, Italy.
The project was accepted by the MCW and the partners applied for a global
grant, which was approved in February 2016. Seven Rotary clubs and three
districts from Italy, the Philippines and Sweden contributed to the US $52,000
included constructing 222 toilets in various barangays, six rainwater
collectors, seven communal handwashing stations, 20 bio-sand filters, and
community-led training seminars for the beneficiary communities. As a result,
this project has provided nearly 1100 people with access to proper toilet
facilities and almost 600 people now have a regular supply of clean water. The
community-led training seminar included a series of group discussions and a
workshop to demonstrate which practices can prevent water contamination and to
recognize the interconnection of water, sanitation and hygiene. We also
discussed the medical costs related to open defecation in order to help the
community understand how much money is spent on treating illnesses resulting
from poor sanitation and hygiene.
happy to report the beneficiary communities have not had a single case of
parasitic or diarrheal infections since the project was completed. Now when
asked where they go to the toilet, the proud community members say “over here”!
Article Source: Rotary International website – Rotary Service
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