KARACHI: Until two years back, Marium Khaskheli, a resident of a remote village Moosa Khaskheli in deltaic region of River Indus, the country’s lifeline, has never imagined that her village would be so clean. “It was full to filth, children used to defecate openly and adults members were visiting nearby fields to respond call of nature, almost everyone in the village had often falling ill and minor children were suffering with diarrhea,” she recalled. the suddenly, few social workers visited them and conducted hygiene awareness sessions and today her village is the most clean village in the area.
Today, November 19, is the World Toilet Day, an official international day declared by United Nations to boost awareness among the third world countries about the importance of toilet. This year the theme for World Toilet Day 2015 is ‘Sanitation and Nutrition” because, according to World Toilet Organization, better sanitation supports better nutrition and improved health, especially for women and children.
It seems, the dwellers of this remote hamlet are already aware about the importance of toilets and better sanitation. “We have now understand that we were spending lot of money on the treatments of the diseases caused lack of toilets and sanitation facilities,” Marium told Balochistan Express during visit of her village.
One can see dust bins hanging in front of every house of the village and also not a single home lacks toilet. “Initially the villagers were resultant about construction of toilets so we conducted hygiene awareness session and after few session all the villagers agreed to construct toilets on their own as a result of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach,” said Shukio Abro, an official of National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) an organization working on sanitation and toilets in the district with the help of UK-based international charity, WaterAid.
In a statement issued by WaterAid-Pakistan ahead of World Toilet Day, stated that Pakistan now has 36.5% of its people without access to safe, private toilets. Since 1990, access has improved by 39.8 percentage points, making it 2ndmost improved country for which data is available in South Asia.
“An estimation suggest that around 314,000 children under five die each year of diarrhoeal illness which could be prevented with safe water, good sanitation and good hygiene. Many more have their physical and cognitive development stunted through repeated bouts of diarrhoea, blighting their life chances,” stated the statement.
Not Marium alone, but its seems almost every resident of the Moosa Khaskheli village are now concerned about better hygiene practices and construction of toilet. Fisherman Khuda Baksh, a twenty-seven years old and father of six had saved some amount to construct a toilet. “It was such a shame that our women used to go out to use open spaces due to the lack of the toilet, but now I am happy that I am able to construct a toilet,” he said, while constructing toilet with the help of wooden sticks. “After awareness sessions about hygiene, almost every child in our village is also washing hands on regular basis,” he told Balochistan Express.
Nazar Joyo, Manager, NRSP of WaterAid’s Wash Result Fund said that under this unique project his organization boosted the awareness about the importance of toilets and has succeeded in several villages. “We are working for last two years and now there are around 254 villages are declared as Open Defecation Free (ODF) and residents of these villages have constricted 10900 toilets in these villages on their own as a result of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and around 80,000 people of these villages are not defecting in open after construction of toilets,” said Joyo.
According to a study, currently 36.5 percent of Pakistan’s population is still without access to safe, private toilets, this leads to serious health and social problems. Pakistan comes at number nine worldwide when it comes to open defecation having around 25.1 million people practices open-defecation in 2015 with surface area 796,100 square kilometers. Average number of people practicing open defecation per square kilometer is 32.
Although Pakistan improved access to sanitation by 39.8 percentage- points, making second most improved country in South Asia during 1999 to 2015 but still 68.67 million people making the percentage around 36.5 percent of its population are without toilets.
More than 650 million people in the world do not have access to clean water and more than 2.3 billion do not have access to a safe private toilet. Only 17 countries in the world including Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia have a safe, private toilet facility in every single household.
In September, the United Nations adopted new Global Goals on sustainable development. The entire world has come together to agree a path to a fairer, more sustainable world – one in which extreme poverty is eliminated and no matter where you are you have enough to eat, clean water to drink, a safe, private place to relieve yourself and soap and water to wash with. Goal 6 promises adequate, equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone, everywhere by 2030.