Toilets, clean water bring health to Nepalese village

World Toilet Day, November 19, has been established as a day to raise awareness of the 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a toilet and are at risk of contracting fatal waterborne diseases. Children are especially susceptible.

Story and photo by Alina Shrestha. Edited by Shawna Templeton.
Published November 16, 2011 at 12:00am PST

“How beautiful is my country!” begins a poem that 8-year-old Jamuna Thapa loves to recite. A World Vision-sponsored child in Nepal, Jamuna is the youngest in her family of five.

The village she lives in is lush, green, and clean. True to her favorite poem, it is beautiful. But it was not always this way.

Lack of toilets leads to high child mortality

When World Vision started working in Jamuna’s village in 2005, there was little access to clean water or toilets.

Especially in the rural areas of Nepal, clean water and sanitation resources are woefully inadequate. This lack of proper hygiene contributes to a high number of children contracting diarrhea and waterborne diseases.

According to the United Nations, only 45 percent of Nepal’s population has access to toilets. Nearly 13,000 children die in Nepal every year due to diarrhea-related diseases. Worldwide, more than 4,000 children under 5 die each day because they cannot access clean water and sanitation facilities.

Toilets improve health

World Vision supported Jamuna’s village with a water and sanitation project, which includes the construction of household toilets. From 2002-2011, World Vision helped build an estimated 1,400 household toilets in Kaski District, where Jamuna’s village is located.

Kaski was the first district in Nepal to be declared an open-defecation-free district. As a result, the health risks associated with defecating in the open have significantly reduced.

“I have a toilet in my house, and I like keeping it clean,” says Jamuna with a shy smile.

World Vision also works to raise awareness about proper hygiene. Narjuban Miya, a 9-year-old girl living in an adjacent village, advocates for hand-washing practices in her community.

Her father, Salamdin Miya, says, “She ensures our toilet is clean and teaches us to wash our hands with soap after using the toilet.”

Tank provides easy access to disease-free water

Additionally, a water tank was set up in the village to tap and store the natural spring water.

“Earlier, women had to go to streams to collect water or use unclean water,” explains Gopal Thapa, a local resident and chairperson of the water and sanitation plan. “Now, everyone can collect water anytime of the day from the collecting tank. It is potable and we don’t have to boil it.”

Jamuna’s family no longer spends time searching for potable water or looking for safe places to defecate.

“After access to clean water and sanitation, my children’s health has improved, and they no longer complain of stomachache and diarrhea,” says Jamuna’s mother, Poonam. “They don’t need to visit the health post nowadays.”

Two ways you can help

Pray for children and families who are vulnerable to disease because they do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. Pray that we would realize a world where everyone can access a toilet and clean water.

Make a one-time gift to our Clean Water Fund. Your donation will help provide interventions like latrines and hand-washing stations, deep wells that supply safe water, storage containers for rainwater, piping systems to irrigate crops, and much more.