Talk about toilets: organisations aim to improve sanitation

Building a toilet in Solomon Islands. Photo: Rob Maccoll

The sea, mangroves, beach and bush often function as bathrooms in Solomon Islands.

According to a recent survey, 80 percent of the country’s population does not have a proper toilet, so waste is left elsewhere.

Project Manager of the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing and Innovation Program of Live & Learn Hilda Tango said the statistic is evidence of a national problem that reflects the global sanitation crisis.

And she said to address it, Solomon Islanders need to talk about toilets.

“It’s a taboo subject — custom stops us from talking about it,” Mrs Tango said on a talk show on SIBC yesterday. “But if it has to do with the health of your family and my family and also the health of our nation, I think it’s something that we should not be scared to talk about because it affects health.”

The talk show coincided with World Toilet Day, which is celebrated annually on November 19.

The United Nations designated the day to encourage action to tackle global sanitation problems. Around the world, 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.

To address sanitation issues in peri-urban settlements of Honiara, Live & Learn is conducting a pilot project to help communities establish enterprises to sell toilet products.

The pilot is operating in the Henderson and Namoliki communities.

Henderson Community Company, which is part of the pilot, makes and sells toilet raisers.

The company currently offers two models — one for $339 and one for $724 — and can make toilets to certain specifications for people with special needs. It also provides toilet maintenance and installation services.

Henderson centre manager Stephen Alick said area residents can purchase toilets directly from the company, whose office is located within the community.

But he said sales are not bound by Henderson’s borders.

“Our products have been sold in town and outside of town,” he said. “That means that this is for everyone.”

By Merinda Valley and Gina Maka’a

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