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On World Toilet Day, Salesians Review Sanitation Projects in Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania

Credit: Salesian Missions

On the occasion of the World Toilet Day 2021 marked Friday, 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 three African countries.

In a Friday, November 19 report, the leadership of the New York-based agency shares sanitation projects undertaken in Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania, through its “Clean Water Initiative.”

“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 report.

Fr. Baek adds, “Improving water and sanitation facilities also ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water, reducing the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools and keep them away from important study time.”

In the Southern African nation of Namibia, “Youth attending the St. John Bosco Parish, which is part of the Don Bosco Youth Center in Rundu, Namibia, have access to clean, safe water through the installation of a new water tank thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions.”

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“The project, part of the Salesian Missions ‘Clean Water Initiative,’ is impacting more than 7,300 people who are part of the church community,” the November 19 report indicates. 

In the report, SDB members note in reference to Namibia, “More than one quarter of the population lacks access to clean water and more than half lacks access to proper sanitation facilities.”

“Inadequate water and sanitation are major causes of disease, reducing a community’s ability to thrive,” the report further indicates. 

Prior to the new water tank in the Salesian community in Rundu, SDB officials say “the church had no running water or proper sanitation.”

“As a result, no one could use the church facilities and often programs at the youth center were cancelled,” they say in the report.

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With funding from the development agency, SDB members say in the report, “the water situation has improved, church services can start and they are compliant with COVID-19 requirements.” 

“Salesians are able to help prevent waterborne illness, and there are increased numbers of youth attending programs,” the November 19 report indicates. 

In the West African nation of Nigeria, “People living in the Nkerefi community in Enugu state have access to clean water thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions ‘Clean Water Initiative.’” 

“The funding provided for the implementation of a new water borehole,” Salesian Missions officials say in the report, and adds, “This will contribute to the livelihood of the local community, curtail the outbreak of waterborne diseases and infections, and help reduce the rate of women and infant mortality.”

Nkerefi is made up of the four communities of Enuogu-Nkerefi, Ohuani-Nkerefi, Isienu Amofu Nkerefi and Imeoha Nkerefi. 

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

With the funding, SDB officials say, “the wall and roofing of the bathroom facility have been completed.”

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 November 19 report indicates.

“The school’s bathroom facilities were poor and unable to accommodate the 891 boys attending the school. The structures were not up to standard, and the roof was leaking. In addition, the ceiling boards were destroyed and the walls blighted,” Salesian Missions officials say.

They add in reference to the situation at Don Bosco Didia institution before their sanitation initiative, “The toilets were dilapidated, and the holes for the pit toilets were worn out and weak with the possibility of collapsing with a small amount of pressure.”

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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.

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

This year’s theme, “Valuing toilets”, draws attention to the fact that toilets and sanitation systems are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world. 

UN-Water notes that the underfunding of sanitation systems, their poor management or neglect can have devastating health, economic and environmental consequences for marginalized communities around the globe.