by Mom Chantara Soleil
“With our behavior, we are killing our children,” says J.P. Shukla to trigger Cambodia’s sanitation activists to ambitiously end preventable deaths caused by open defecation as the kingdom’s ‘season of flies [March to June]’ is coming.
“The poor’s avoidable diseases and spending,” adds the colleague of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach innovator Dr. Kamal Kar, “resulted by open-air faeces needs total, not partly, effort to stop.”
Open excrement passes into household water sources by rain, and flies, poultries and pigs circulate the waste indiscriminately causing illnesses like diarrhea that claims around 17% lives of the under-five in 2006.
Parents convinced to act
In a triggering practice, financed by the Global Sanitation Fund through Plan, with guidance from 30-year experienced J.P. Shukla at southeastern Svay Rieng, parents thirstily gulped down the given pure drinking water from the bottle.
Though they had walked under the glaring light of the high noon, the parents then did not take even a sip when a tinny hair picked from their own faeces was placed in the water, no matter how thirsty they were.
“Contamination of this hair multiplied by six is only equal to that of a six-leg fly on your food,” a sanitation activist, Ki Bory, tells the socked parents.
Bory of a Plan’s sub-guarantee, spent roughly three hours to assist some 40 parents in Ang Svay village to calculate their annual excrement in the open air and its deadly impacts.
Heightened by the ‘please-build- me-a-latrine’ call of their innocent children, parents in stunned silence promised to construct a latrine right away.Plan’s GSF programme manager Oun Syvibola signifies the competence of frontline sanitation activists: “Community ownership and sustainable community sanitation is in their hands.”
“We want to be sure that our activists can convince the community to take action, not to depend,” he continues.
Improving but more to do
Hand in hand with line offices of the Ministry of Rural Development, Plan’s executes the Global Sanitation Fund’s support to contribute to reduction of Cambodia’s open defecation to about 70%.
The rate remains the highest in the region and more is to be done – the reason for early 2013 hands-on refresher to more than 60 sanitation activists from a fifth provinces across the kingdom, according to Plan’s GSF project coordinator Hang Hybunna.
Poverty is not the issue “More people own a mobile phone than they own a latrine. It’s not the issue of poverty but whether or not they are well convinced to stop defecating in the open areas, which simply means to stop eating each other’s faeces and stop killing our children,” adds Shukla, now 60 years old.