WORLD TOILET DAY: Salesian Missions highlights water and sanitation projects from its ‘Clean Water Initiative’
More than 3.6 billion people are living without access to safely managed sanitation, according to UN-Water.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Nov. 19, 2021) 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.
Every year, UN-Water—the United Nation’s coordination mechanism on water and sanitation—sets the theme. This year’s theme “Valuing toilets” draws attention to the fact that toilets and sanitation systems are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world. UN-Water notes that this can have devastating health, economic and environmental consequences for marginalized communities around the globe.
More than 3.6 billion people are living without access to safely managed sanitation, according to UN-Water. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. Every day, more than 700 children under 5 years old die from diarrhea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and poor hygiene. In addition, UN-Water notes that for every $1 invested in basic sanitation, up to $5 is returned in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain.
“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 2021, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs around the globe that aid in the development of appropriate and effective water and sanitation systems.
Youth attending the St. John Bosco Parish, which is part of the Don Bosco Youth Center in Rundu, Namibia, have access to clean, safe water through the installation of a new water tank thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The project, part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” is impacting more than 7,300 people who are part of the church community.
In Namibia, more than one quarter of the population lacks access to clean water and more than half lacks access to proper sanitation facilities. Inadequate water and sanitation are major causes of disease, reducing a community’s ability to thrive. Prior to the new water tank, the church had no running water or proper sanitation. As a result, no one could use the church facilities and often programs at the youth center were cancelled.
Salesian missionaries now report that the water situation has improved, church services can start and they are compliant with COVID-19 requirements. Salesians are able to help prevent waterborne illness, and there are increased numbers of youth attending programs.
People living in the Nkerefi community in the Enugu state of Nigeria have access to clean water thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The funding provided for the implementation of a new water borehole. This will contribute to the livelihood of the local community, curtail the outbreak of waterborne diseases and infections, and help reduce the rate of women and infant mortality.
Nkerefi is made up of the four communities of Enuogu-Nkerefi, Ohuani-Nkerefi, Isienu Amofu Nkerefi and Imeoha Nkerefi. Each of these communities is made up of different villages and clans. Clean water is a scarce commodity in Nkerefi. The majority of families depend on a small, brownish stream called Evuna that partially runs through parts of the villages.
The Evuna stream is the only accessible water source for drinking, bathing, washing and cooking. The stream is seasonal, however, and dries up during the dry season. As a result, there is a severe shortage of potable water as few people can afford to develop wells due to the cost and the hard nature of the soil.
In addition, the Evuna water has been clinically confirmed to not be hygienic for consumption, especially drinking. The stream has been a source for waterborne-related diseases. There have been outbreaks of cholera, ringworm, tapeworms, acute diarrhea and dysentery linked to the water. Typhoid fever is also a disease among the inhabitants of the community, and each year there are a number of women and children lost to the disease.
The Salesian St. John Bosco Parish, in Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines, has access to clean water thanks to a new project funded by the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The new water supply will serve the Salesian Youth Center, kindergarten, parish office and rectory. The project included the installation of pipelines for a new water source, construction of a raised stand for the water tank, and installation of a water tank and motor pump.
The Salesian parish population serves close to 15,000 people, 90 percent of whom are poor subsistence farmers and sugarcane plantation workers. The majority of the people depend on the government for the basic services that are often inefficiently delivered.
Inside the parish compound, Salesian missionaries operate a kindergarten program, which prepares disadvantaged children for formal education. Among elementary students in the Philippines, it has been found that children who attend kindergarten fare much better academically than those who don’t. However, most kindergarten programs are operated by private institutions that require tuition fees. Most parents in Minoyan only earn a meager income for food which leaves nothing for the cost of education.
In addition to classes, Salesian missionaries also offer pastoral activities and gatherings, requiring a steady water supply for the parish. Prior to the project, the Salesian parish received its water supply from an old source that was also supplying water to a large number of households in Minoyan, leading to an inadequate water supply for the parish.
Don Bosco Didia Secondary School, located in Shinyanga, Tanzania, has been able to complete a construction project for new bathrooms thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.”
With the funding, the wall and roofing of the bathroom facility have been completed. The school’s bathroom facilities were poor and unable to accommodate the 891 boys attending the school. The structures were not up to standard, and the roof was leaking. In addition, the ceiling boards were destroyed and the walls blighted. The toilets were dilapidated, and the holes for the pit toilets were worn out and weak with the possibility of collapsing with a small amount of pressure.
Don Bosco Didia Secondary School completed the project in November 2020 with the help of a hired contractor who laid the foundation, constructed the entire premise wall and completed the roofing. Once the school secures funding, additional work will take place. The facilities still need the installation of windows, doors, electricity, plumbing and new toilets, as well as painting.
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