Having an adequate toilet facility is one of the important basic necessities of life. It is a matter that not only relates to human rights or socio-economic progress. It is also about people’s dignity and self respect that makes a simple yet vital resource like a toilet an essential aspect of humanitarian assistance.
A life without a toilet is unimaginable for people living in the developed countries unless they are homeless. Billions of people in the developing regions, especially in Asia and Africa, do not have access to safe, clean and private toilets. Many children, especially girls, refrain from going to school due to lack of toilets which affects their academic achievements and future prospects.
On the occasion of World Toilet Day, Muslim Aid will share two stories of families from Sri Lanka which will hopefully underline the vital role toilets play to gain indispensable progress while offering humanitarian aid.
Hameedumma’s story highlights the frustration and restraint of people living without the facilities of toilets. She is a 60-year-old widow from Sri Lanka, living with two children; one of whom is suffering from mental illness. Her family was dependent on her neighbour’s toilet for sanitation purposes. After having a toilet constructed by Muslim Aid, she expressed her relief in these words, “My family now has the freedom of using their own toilet ensuring our dignity and privacy.’’
In many cases people lose their lives as they get exposed to waterborne diseases and have to resort to risky places like jungles to go to the toilet. People are also vulnerable to assaults and attacks as they have to travel long distances to open fields and bank of rivers. Such illegal and insanitary practice pollutes the environment in which communities live and poses a serious danger to their lives, as well as social economic progress.
An internally displaced 38 year old, Mohammad Nawaz from Sri Lanka, struggled to resettle in his own village after 20 years of long and brutal civil war. He and his family risked their lives every time they went to the jungle for toilet purposes and they had to face wild animals and reptiles. After having a toilet constructed near his house by Muslim Aid, he articulated his feelings in these words, “We did not have the basic facilities such as drinking water, toilet, shelter, schools and hospitals. Therefore, the construction of a toilet is helping us greatly; our family is feeling very happy and safe’’.
Security, Privacy and dignity are the main sentimental values that toilets can give to individuals living without them. For Civil Society Organisations like Muslim Aid, toilets are one of the essential components to overcome the root causes of poverty. Muslim Aid has ongoing sanitation projects in Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan and India for constructing private and communal latrines for vulnerable communities.