On World Toilet Day, Salesians Review Sanitation Projects in Africa

Logo World Toilet Day

On the occasion of the World Toilet Day to be marked Thursday, November 19, the leadership of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has reviewed its sanitation initiatives around the globe, including Africa.

In Africa, the leadership of the New York-based agency has undertaken sanitation projects in Egypt, Madagascar and Tanzania, through its “Clean Water Initiative,” a report shared with ACI Africa on Tuesday, November 17 indicates.

“Having access to proper sanitation brings a sense of dignity to the children and families we serve in our programs,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek has been quoted as saying in the November 17 report.

In the North African nation of Egypt, officials of Salesian Missions have facilitated access to clean, fresh water and improved sanitation for more than 4,000 students at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Cairo, Egypt.

With funding from the development agency, SDB members at the Catholic institute have been able to install two safe water drinking supplies and renovated sanitation facilities such as bathrooms and toilets, which “had dramatically deteriorated over the last few years.”


“The toilets had cracks and bumps, and the floor insulation was losing its function due to high and frequent exposure to moisture and water accumulation under the floor,” Salesian Missions officials say in the report.

The renovation project also involved the dismantling of the old facilities and upgrading both the plumbing and electrical systems, including the use of LED lighting, which the Salesian Missions official say “will provide a drastic reduction in energy costs and maintenance.” 

In the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar, the funding from the SDB development agency facilitated the provision of clean water to close to 4,000 people in the Salesian community in Ankofafa, Archdiocese of Fianarantsoa.

Among the beneficiaries of the project are 500 children who attend the Salesian oratory each day, 1,000 youth who attend the oratory three days a week, 1,500 youth who attend the summer activities of the Salesian community of 50 confreres and staff, hundreds of parishioners, and numerous retreat groups.

Other beneficiaries include a group of 20 street children who come to the Salesian community twice a week to wash their clothes and take a shower.

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According to the Salesians, the street children now want to stay and “are more willing to engage in school and recreational activities at the Salesian center.”

“For the last 25 years, the water at the oratory had been brown and unsanitary for children and youth participating in Salesian activities. The water pipes were meant for the needs of up to 3,000 people but were used for 15,000 people,” the leadership of the development agency says.

The pump that was used bordered the rice fields, which made the water susceptible to contamination, they add.

With the funding provided by Salesian Missions, a new well was dug and a water pump installed, ensuring that the Salesian community has clean water for the kitchen, rooms and common bathrooms, Salesian officials say in the November 17 report.

Officials of Salesian Missions have also facilitated similar projects in the East African nation of Tanzania, where it is funding the construction of sanitation facilities at Don Bosco Didia Secondary school in Tanzania’s Shinyanga Diocese.


The facilities, which comprise bathrooms, toilets, sinks and clean water supply, are expected to benefit 1,218 boys and girls who study at the school and who “have faced significant challenges in their learning environment due to not having access to a safe and clean supply of water.”

The school is located in Northern Tanzania, an area with no perennial rivers or streams, with most watercourses flowing for only a few days per year.  

“The school lacked sanitation and hand-washing facilities. With the poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, and intense levels of person-to-person contact, there was a high-risk environment for the outbreak of diseases for children and staff,” the leadership of Salesian Missions has reported.

The new sanitation facilities and clean water supply will “minimize water-related risks and infections for both students and staff and bring psychological relief to all,” the leadership of the SDB agency notes, adding that the infrastructure will enable students to focus on their studies in an environment that is safer and more conducive to education.

Established on 19 November 2001 by the United Nations, the World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. 

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According to the UN, the Day strives to encourage taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

This year’s celebration will be marked under the theme, “Sustainable sanitation and climate change,” as an acknowledgement of the fact that climate change is accelerating natural disasters such as floods, drought, and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants.