What is World Toilet Day?
To bring awareness to the issue of open defecation, and the resulting spread of disease and safety concerns surrounding the issue, the American Foundation for Children with AIDS is seeking donations in order to support a community led sanitation and hygiene project campaign called #LooLove. November 19th, 2022 marks World Toilet Day, an annual United Nations Observance since 2013 that seeks to make the invisible visible by educating the world about the global sanitation crisis that impacts over 3.6 billion people globally that live without safe and decent toilets. Open defecation creates several health and societal issues that include Heath impact, increased risk of sexual exploitation, threat to women’s privacy and dignity, and pychosocial stressors. (Saleem, M., Burdett, T. & Heaslip)
The American Foundation for Children with AIDS, through local community health volunteers, have identified 49 families living in the Motopos region of Zimbabwe that do not have access to bathroom facilities posing a risk to themselves and their environment. These families, who also live in extreme poverty, are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Practicing open defecation spreads human waste through local waterways, contaminating water sources used for drinking and irrigation of food sources. It also spreads disease such as cholera, diarrhea,dysentery, typhoid, trachoma and intestinal worms and according to the World Bank, results in over 432,000 deaths annually.
Beyond the spread of disease, women and girls are at even higher vulnerability by not having access to safe toilets during menstruation for personal hygiene, and additionally are subjected to further risk of sexual violence and even rape.Fear, shame lack of privacy and dignity also severly impact the quality of life lived by women and girls. (Azeez, A., Negi, D. P., & Mishra, A.)
How does open defecation impact people with AIDS?
Children and adults that are infected with HIV/AIDS are put at greater risk for not being able to continue adequate treatment with medication to keep them healthy, if they are suffering from diarrhea, resulting in malnutrition and dehydration. It is imperative that when we look at stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, that we also consider sanitation and hygiene into a sustainable plan that considers these risks.
In order to assure AFCA’s #LooLove campaign is successful, careful consideration of local impact and community buy-in from stakeholders will assure its success. AFCA’s goal is to fund and track the construction of the initial 49 toilets with a local community builder, along with an apprentice from a local secondary school. Families who receive the grant will also participate in the building, giving them dignity in being a part of the solution. Training on how to maintain the toilets, keeping them clean and pest free will also be a part of the training for local beneficiaries.
Ecobricks used to build toilets
The materials sources to build the toilets will also include a plan to collect, clean and prepare EcoBricks, made of glass bottles to create the structure of the walls, also allowing for airflow and light, but also providing security and shelter from the elements. Ecobricks help to solve for both building material costs, as well as collecting local bottles that otherwise litter the community.
You can read more about how open defecation impacts communities and people around the world.
Saleem, M., Burdett, T. & Heaslip, V. Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 19, 158 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6423-z
Azeez, A., Negi, D. P., & Mishra, A. (2019). Women’s Experiences of Defecating in the Open: A Qualitative Study. Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 26(1–2), 160–170. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971521518808098
How can I help people that need access to toilets?
Donate to our #LooLove campaign, and help provide safe and decent toilets to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. You can also help us spread the word of this important issue on #worldtoiletday by sharing our #LooLove campaign on socials.