World Toilet Day is held every year on November 19th. This year’s theme was: Groundwater and sanitation – making the invisible visible, to highlight the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater.
PWW hosted a successful, interactive event in the community of Deréal, Haiti to celebrate World Toilet Day and provide important sanitation and hygiene education to community members. Forty-three (43) people participated in the day’s activities.
This event was the perfect opportunity to expand the capacity of Lead Community Agents, as part of PWW’s new Community Education Program (read past blog here).
As a reminder, the Community Education Program (CEP) is founded upon the goal of developing a pool of local WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) paraprofessionals, made up of respected and motivated community leaders. PWW selects, trains, and supports the group of individuals, known as Lead Community Agents (LCAs), who serve as local WASH leaders, knowledgeable about effective WASH practices and able to teach these practices to fellow community members.
This year, Lead Community Agents, working closely with the PWW team, were responsible for planning and carrying out all World Toilet Day event activities. LCAs divided up areas of responsibility, with three (3) focusing on decorations, four (4) were event speakers, three (3) were responsible for management and arrangement of the room where information was being shared, one (1) collected names of the participants, and the remaining LCAs provided assistance, where needed.
This main activity of the event was based on this year’s World Toilet Day theme…Groundwater and Sanitation: Making the Invisible Visible. Under the guidance of the LCAs, community members participated in collaborative conversations about poorly constructed latrines as well as the practice of open defecation and their contribution to the contamination of local rivers and groundwater. As a follow up, LCAs introduced ways in which families can create a safe sanitation system in order to prevent this contamination of groundwater and local water sources by human waste.
Two key messages were emphasized:
- A safe sewage system protects groundwater: Appropriately located toilets connected to safely managed sewage systems (that collect, treat, and dispose of human waste) help prevent human waste from entering groundwater.
- Sanitation systems must withstand climate change: Toilets and sanitation systems should be constructed or adapted to withstand extreme weather events to ensure continuous operation and protection of groundwater.
PWW team members observing the activities were excited by the day’s events and impressed by the work of the LCAs.
“The learning activities and discussions were very lively. We will continue to work with the LCAs and focus on the construction and use of latrines, as we find that this is a very important aspect for the behavior change that is needed in these communities,” said Junior Seraphin, PWW’s WASH Training Coordinator in Haiti (pictured right).