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The problem of not having a loo is more serious than we might think at first, especially if we're male - in many communities the poor quality of lavatory systems is a hazard to health, and in others the total lack of a loo causes problems for people who need one: for women the problem is especially acute because the use of a loo is, well, fundamental, and lack of opportunity means not attending public gathering places, like school.

So, the net result of no loo means fewer girls and women receive education.

In terms of sanitation, unsatisfactory loos means disease. Human waste plus insect activity equals human illness.

Need a fact? Diarrhoea itself kills two million children each year.

As a result, there are agencies trying to provide sanitary loo facilities in those developing world communities which need them most. Two of these agencies are:

Simple solutions include various types of pit latrine. A hole in the ground leads to a deep pit. A cover over the hole hinders the progress of insects to and from the pit. Ventilation pipes are sometimes included to distribute malodorous gas from the pit.

A development of this idea is the water filled U bend, which creates a seal between the hole in the ground and the pit. When someone uses the loo they refill the U bend with water.

There is a need for maintenance, because of course the pits fill up, so new pits need making and guidance on their use must be distributed.

The Wateraid website includes the following facts:

  • £8 provides the necessary funds for four lavatory slabs made from cement in Malawi.
  • £15 buys an ecological pit latrine in Mozambique.
  • With £350 you can pay for a school loo block for 150 boys and girls, in India.

How about this for a fundraising idea? Print the text on this page up on a poster on a computer, and post it on the back of the cubicle door in your loo at work. Encourage everyone to spend a penny (dropped into a donation box provided somewhere accessible), and raise funds for a loo block in India that way. To show the progress of your fundraising, why not have a line drawing of a pit latrine that's gradually filling up with donated money? When it reaches the top, that will be the £350 you need.

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