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Children celebrate ‘beautiful and clean toilets’ on World Toilet Day

By Camille Dupire - Nov 21,2017 - Last updated at Nov 21,2017

The World Toilet Day is marked annually on November 19 to raise awareness on the importance of wastewater treatment and best hygiene practices, according to the UN website (Photo by Camille Dupire)

ZAATARI — Children and adults from Zaatari refugee camp on Tuesday participated in various celebrations on the occasion of the World Toilet Day, marked annually on November 19.

Organised by the Oxfam teams within the camp, the activities offered residents the chance to learn more about the best hygiene practices, in an interactive and playful setting.

Starting the morning session with some 70 young boys from the 8th district, Omar Salem, Oxfam community mobiliser (CM), asked: “Do you know why we are gathered here today?”

Cheering, the crowd of children aged between seven and 14 rushed to answer, eager to share the knowledge they have been working on for months. 

“We want to celebrate our beautiful toilets,” said eight-year-old Mohammad, followed by Omar, six, who stated: “we celebrate the clean toilets.”

In a lively atmosphere, the children displayed the washing techniques they learned in the Child Club, a bi-weekly programme run by Oxfam to teach them about hygiene, health, water conservation, among others.

Mahmood, 14, proudly demonstrated the eight-move hand washing technique he memorised in front of his peers. “I learned how to wash my hands, and to clean the toilets after I use them, so they are not left dirty for others,” he told The Jordan Times at the event.

“This is a different way to communicate to the children about the issue,” said Aisha Shtiwi, Oxfam media officer, noting that “it is easier to convey such messages through games and interactive shows.”

A racing competition was later organised in the football field used for the event, during which two teams competed to see how quickly the kids could unclog some display toilets filled with rocks and papers.

“We brought the traditional Arabic toilets that they use on a daily basis, so they can know how to better use them, and avoid harmful practices such as dropping paper or plastic in them,” said Ahmed Khawaldeh, team leader of the Zaatari CM team. 

Puppet shows displaying good and bad practices related to the use of lavatories were also set up in various centres across the camp, engaging both children and their parents in the activity.

“We are also conducting awareness sessions for adults, where we not only inform them about sanitation, sewage systems and maintenance techniques, but also where we listen to their complaints and concerns regarding the hygiene situation in the camp,” Salem told The Jordan Times.

A series of sessions was conducted for groups of girls in the afternoon, Salem noted.

Held as a continuation of the World Water Day, the World Toilet Day seeks to raise awareness on the importance of wastewater treatment and best hygiene practices, according to the UN website, which added that “for billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective and, consequently, progress in health and child survival is seriously undermined.”

As part of the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to reach everyone with sanitation, halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse, the UN stressed the importance of the World Toilet Day in inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis, the website stated.

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