Going to the toilet is a necessary part of life. But did you know that we actually have a day when we celebrate toilets? This past November 19th was World Toilet Day. This annual celebration serves as a reminder for us to make sure everyone has access to clean toilets and safe sanitation.
According to a 2020 study conducted by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, about 10 million people in the Philippines don’t have access to properly managed sanitation and toilets, with 7 million of them practicing something we call Open Defecation (OD). It is the practice of defecating in bushes and bodies of water, like rivers.
Defecating out in the open means the waste we expel will eventually seep into the soil and water around us, coming back to haunt us in a number of ways, like:
Zero Open Defecation Program
To solve the problems related to OD in the Philippines, the Department of Health started a program called the Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) Program, which uses something called the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methodology to engage communities and help them get rid of open defecation completely. Under the ZOD program, communities will self-assess their situation and carry out actions on their own with guidance and support from local government units (LGUs).
In carrying out ZOD in the local setting, LGUs are guided by the four main principles of the ZOD program: Developing Enabling Environments, Creating Participatory Demand, Ensuring Supplies and Services, and Strengthening Advocacy Activities.
Human actions shape our environment, and our environment shapes the quality of our lives in turn. Taking action to shift Filipino society towards a more sustainable future, even through something as simple as choosing the right place to defecate, is a big step in the right direction.
Proper sanitation might sound like something that’s a given for everyone, but according to the Department of Health in a 2021 study, approximately 16% of households in the Philippines don't yet have access to safe water, and 25% of Filipino households still need help when it comes to sanitation facilities like toilets. So, the next time you sit on your toilet, let's remember to advocate for safe and proper sanitation for all Filipinos in the country.