WORLD TOILET DAY: Salesian Missions ‘Clean Water Initiative’ ensures youth at Salesian schools and centers have access to clean water and proper sanitation
Programs in Egypt, India, Madagascar and Tanzania highlight Salesian initiatives that bring clean water access and proper sanitation to schools and communities.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Nov. 19, 2020) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in honoring World Toilet Day. Celebrated each year on Nov. 19, the day brings the world’s attention to the global needs of sanitation and marks the founding of the World Toilet Organization which started on Nov. 19, 2001. The inaugural World Toilet Summit was held on the same day and marked the first global summit of its kind.
Each year, the World Toilet Organization sets a theme for World Toilet Day that corresponds to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme “Sustainable sanitation and climate change” focuses on ensuring that everyone has sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change and keep communities healthy and functioning.
The World Toilet Organization notes that the world is not on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal 6 which ensures availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030. It indicates that 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation, 673 million still practice open defecation and 3 billion lack basic hand-washing facilities. The impact of exposure to human waste has a devastating impact on public health, living conditions, nutrition, education and economic productivity across the world.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” is ensuring that providing clean water is a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
“Having access to proper sanitation brings a sense of dignity to the children and families we serve in our programs,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Improving water and sanitation facilities also ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water, reducing the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools and keep them away from important study time.”
In honor of World Toilet Day 2020, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs around the globe that aid in the development of appropriate and effective water and sanitation systems.
Don Bosco Technical Institute in Cairo, Egypt, has new bathrooms and access to clean, fresh water thanks to funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” Every year, Don Bosco Technical Institute welcomes more than 4,000 people who regularly attend classes and other activities, and they will now benefit from clean water access and proper sanitation.
Don Bosco Technical Institute’s bathrooms had dramatically deteriorated over the last few years. The toilets had cracks and bumps, and the floor insulation was losing its function due to high and frequent exposure to moisture and water accumulation under the floor. In addition, the materials used in the plumbing systems were showing signs of corrosion and deterioration which caused frequent leaks.
With Salesian Missions funding, Don Bosco Technical Institute improved and renovated the two bathrooms and installed two safe drinking water supplies. The project also entailed dismantling the old facilities and upgrading both the plumbing and electrical systems, including the use of LED lighting, which will provide a drastic reduction in energy costs and maintenance. Walls were plastered and a new concrete slab was poured. Five new toilets were provided in each bathroom in addition to new sinks. The school also hung posters above the sinks to remind students to practice good hygiene.
Salesian missionaries with the Institution for Cultural and Rural Development (I-CARD) based at Jorhat, Assam, India, are providing clean water access thanks to funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The project took place in 2018 and provided hand water pumps, clean drinking water and toilets for families.
I-CARD set up 38 hand water pumps for people in the villages of Tanuchuk and Eporia. The water pumps are easily repairable and can be handled by the young and the old. The water can be used for their toilets, hand-washing, bathing and cooking without having to go far away from their homes. The hand water pumps were installed toward the back of the houses. Mising tribal village people do not have bathrooms of their own, and their bathing is usually done in public near the water source either at the hand pump or by the rivers.
Salesian missionaries also set up a water tank reservoir that can hold approximately 20,000 liters of water. This is sufficient drinking water for a large village of about 200 families. The water source is from a bore well and is fitted with a submersible pump inside the pipe. This ensures a constant supply of water.
The final part of the project provided 29 individual household with toilets constructed in Eporia for the families. There is no water supply to these toilets, but families can carry water in buckets from the hand pumps. There is a small tank for water outside each toilet so that water can be stored.
Salesian missionaries were able to provide clean water to close to 4,000 people in the Salesian community in Ankofafa, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, thanks to funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The beneficiaries of the project included 500 children who attend the Salesian oratory each day, 1,000 youth who attend the oratory three days a week, 1,500 youth who attend summer activities, the Salesian community of 50 confreres and staff, hundreds of parishioners, and numerous retreat groups.
For the last 25 years, the water at the oratory had been brown and unsanitary for children and youth participating in Salesian activities. The water pipes were meant for the needs of up to 3,000 people but were used for 15,000 people. Before the project, which took place in 2018, there had been a shortage of water for those in need. People formed long lines at the public pumps in the neighborhood starting as early as 2:00 a.m. just to get one can of water for the whole day. Additionally, the pump that was used bordered the rice fields, which made the water susceptible to contamination.
With the funding provided, a new well was dug and water pump installed. Now the Salesian community has clean water for the kitchen, rooms and common bathrooms. Among the beneficiaries is a group of 20 street children who come to the Salesian community twice a week to wash their clothes and take a shower. Thanks to the new water supply, the youth don’t want to leave and they are more willing to engage in school and recreational activities at the Salesian center.
Salesian missionaries with Don Bosco Didia Secondary School, located in Shinyanga in northern Tanzania, will be able to construct bathrooms, including toilets and sinks, to provide the 1,218 boys and girls attending the school with proper sanitation. The project was made possible through funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.”
Shinyanga has no perennial rivers or streams. Most watercourses flow for only a few days per year. Traditionally, people use standing pools of rainwater for most human and livestock needs during the wet season and dig shallow pits in the river beds during the dry season. As a result, students attending Don Bosco Didia have faced significant challenges in their learning environment due to not having access to a safe and clean supply of water.
Further, the school lacked sanitation and hand-washing facilities. With the poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, and intense levels of person-to-person contact, there was a high-risk environment for the outbreak of diseases for children and staff. Children are at risk of helminth infections, long-term exposure to chemical contaminants in water like lead and arsenic, diarrheal diseases, and malaria infections, all of which may force schoolchildren to be absent from school.
The new sanitation facilities and clean water supply at Don Bosco Didia will minimize water-related risks and infections for both students and staff and bring psychological relief to all. This will enable students to focus on their studies in an environment that is safer and more conducive to education.
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