November 19 was designated World Toilet Day by the UN General Assembly in 2013, with the purpose of raising awareness of the basic human right to water and sanitation, for the 1 billion people who still defecate in the open, due to a lack of toilet facilities.
The issue of availability of sanitary facilities is of particular relevance here in Lao PDR, where the most deadly disease is diarrhea, almost entirely caused by poor sanitation, causing about 6000 premature deaths each year. Among countries in the Mekong region Laos has one of the lowest levels of access to improved sanitation. Lao PDR’s MDG 2015 targets are access to basic sanitation services for 60% and access to basic water supply for 80%.
SNV in Lao PDR joined government partner Nam Saat (Department of Environmental Health and Rural Water Supply), UNICEF, and WSP/World Bank to mark World Toilet Day in Vientiane Capital on 19 November 2014. At the event, SNV staff and other attendees wore t-shirts designed to raise awareness about the issue of open defecation, which remains a real problem in rural areas of Lao PDR. 2.4 million people in Lao PDR, or 38% of the population, still defecate in the open. SNV set up a display and played the film “A Village Cleans Up” to highlight the work of SNV in the sanitation sector in Laos.
Since 2010, the water and sanitation sector of SNV in Laos implements the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All programme in Savannakhet. In addition, SNV partners with WSP/Worldbank to support the Government-led Scaling-up Rural Sanitation Programme in Champassak and Sekong. These programmes trigger demand creation for improved sanitation and hygiene practices in more than 469 villages in 3 target districts in Savannakhet, 7 in Champassak and 3 in Sekong.