A few months ago, I stumbled across an interesting charity that helps communities without sanitation build better loos. It has an arresting premise that you can “twin your toilet” – and I liked the concept so much I filed it away for a day when I might be able to afford to take part.
That day has come, and today P hiked to the Royal Mail depot to pick up the parcel that contained our framed certificate with details of which toilet we are twinned with. The cert. includes latitude and longitude (11.03783, 105.65613) and with the magic of Google Maps we can see where in the world we are talking about.
Our toilet twin is in Cambodia, not far from the Vietnamese border. Not a part of the world I know much about, and I had to zoom out an awful lot before I finally saw a place name I had heard of before. (Bangkok!)
The toilet twinning website gives all sorts of fascinating and disturbing reasons why it’s important that toilets are improved wherever possible:
It’s out of order! 1 in 3 people across the world don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet. Bad sanitation is one of the world’s biggest killers: it hits women, children, old and sick people hardest. Every minute, three children under the age of five die because of dirty water and poor sanitation. And, right this minute, around half the people in the world have an illness caused by bad sanitation.
And why it’s also done in a community minded way – it’s apparently no good showing up and building a latrine without teaching the people it’s for what it does!
[The Village Education Resource Centre] realised that a band of khaki-clad aid workers pitching up in a community with a 4×4, a load of spades and materials for building loos – did not constitute a successful sanitation programme – because the community were left with a strange looking building that they didn’t know what to do with. In a straight contest between the “it-came-from-out-of-nowhere-latrine”, and the local river – the river won: on the premise of “better the devil you know”
Twin your toilet today!