We want Hygienic Toilets for Everyone !

Every year on 19th November, the world celebrates Toilet Day. The objective of this day is to sensitise the general public to sanitation issues. We must bear in mind that two-and-a-half billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, such as toilets or latrines, with dramatic consequences for human health, dignity, security, the environment and social and economic development. Merveille gets young people to voice their opinion on this issue.

On the occasion of World Toilet Day, my friend Jonathan and I, young reporters from Kinshasa, went to Mvululu, a village 58km from Kinshasa in Bas-Congo province. Our mission was to seek the views of the children from the village primary school on the existence and use of toilets. We also conducted interviews with several adults on the same subject.

The object of our visit was to denounce the fact that there are still places, rural as well as urban areas, where there are no toilets. There are also cases where toilets exist but are not maintained. A toilet must be clean. That is to say it must be covered, fly-free, odour-free and free from excrement. When a person uses a toilet he or she must feel at ease and have privacy.

During our visit, Priscille, 12, told us that she is not comfortable with the level of privacy available when she uses the toilets in her school, the primary school in Mvululu. Other girls and especially boys could open the toilet door at any moment. That bothers her and so she prefers to hold on and go to the toilet once she gets back home.

Glodie, a boy from the same school said that he prefers to defecate in the open air. As there are 590 pupils for only 4 toilets there is often a queue. He cannot stand waiting in a queue and just after the break the toilets are often dirty.

We also met with the head of the primary school in Mvululu. She explained to us that defecation in the open air causes a number of illnesses, which lead to thousands of children dying. These illnesses include typhoid fever and cholera.  In order to accommodate all the children who attend the school she runs, new toilets are being constructed by means of support from UNICEF.

It is not only this school or village where there are not enough toilets for the number of pupils.

My friend Jonathon and I now consider that there is only one way to put an end to these practices. Every adult citizen should build a toilet and maintain it properly by cleaning it with soap and water or with cinders.

In view of the situation being experienced by our friends in the school in Mvululu, as well as pupils from other schools, I hope that they will have their needs answered: a sufficient number of toilets, separate toilets for girls and boys and a team to clean the toilets.

Translated from French by Daphne Wood.

Photo : UNICEF RDC Diana Mrazikova/Brett Morton/Benoît Almeras

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Merveille

Merveille a 17 ans et elle étudie en première année à l’Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de la Gombe à Kinshasa. Après plusieurs années d'expériences d’enfant reporter, Merveille s'est lancée dans des études d'histoire, sciences sociales et gestion politique. Son but est de défendre les droits de ses pairs et de venir en aide. Selon elle, “il ne faut pas se limiter au rôle d’enfant reporter mais poursuivre cet engagement pour les enfants dans la vie d’adulte”.

Merveille is 17 years old and is in her first year of university in Kinshasa. After a few years of experience as Child Reporter, Merveille has decided to study History, Social Sciences and Political Management. Her goal is to defend her peers' rights and help. Merveille believes: ‘One must not restrict oneself to the role of being a child reporter, but continue this commitment for children into adult life.’

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2 comments

  • Congratulations to the MOH of DR Congo and to its local and international partners, including UNICEF, on the quick and effective response the Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province. This blog really gives the flavor, and highlights the importance of complementing the medical response with vigorous community engagement.
    Best wishes,
    Paul Psychas, MD
    Univ of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute
    Gainesville, FL, USA

    Reply
    • Thank you for your support. It’s true that Ebola has been a challenge for DRC as it is currently for a large part of Africa. The DRC can be proud of fighting the outbreak, a battle that could not have been conducted without the population and the strenghth of their courage.

      Reply

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