Seven million Filipinos resort to open defecation while 570,000 use unimproved sanitation facilities like buckets and open-pit latrines.

One of the principal factors that transmits and spreads gastrointestinal infections is improper excreta disposal, which is also responsible for water supply contamination resulting to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and gastroenteritis. Hence, attaining sustainable sanitation is still a critical challenge in the Philippines.

The Department of Health, together with UNICEF, conducted series of training on Community-Led Total Sanitation or CLTS, last October 3-7 and 10-15 in Mapanas and Bobon, Northern Samar, respectively to introduce CLTS to field health workers who are actively involved in community-based water and sanitation activities.

CLTS is a tried and tested approach that aims to end open defecation practices among communities. Through the support of local government units, sustainable sanitation is believed to be possible because LGUs have recognized their roles and have themselves equipped with appropriate knowledge, skills and tools in developing action plan, organizing themselves and sustaining efforts on Zero Open Defecation plan implementation.

The five-day training is comprised of lectures, workshops, small group discussions, plenary and active participatory discussions and demonstrations. During the practical sessions with communities, members of the households as well as children are taught about open defecation practices, feces mapping or identification of open defecation areas in their respective barangay, feces calculation or calculation of feces produced as against the household’s expenses on sanitation-related sickness.

Residents of Brgy Siljagon share a hearty laughter with the CLTS facilitators

Children happily follow a Barangay Health Worker from Brgy Siljagon, Mapanas

Learning about open defecation practices from children in Barangay Quezon, Bobon

Mothers list down the number of household members and marks their cards to indicate presence of a toilet or not

At the end of the training, the participants are requested to submit their Action Plan in the implementation of Zero Open Defecation Program-CLTS in their respective localities. Moreover, the residents of Purok 2, Barangay Siljagon in Mapanas and the residents of Barangay Quezon in Bobon have pledged their commitment on ending open defecation by November 2016.

Residents of Purok 2, Barangay Siljagon commit to end open defecation by November 2016

A CLTS Training will also be conducted in Camarines Norte sometime this October 2016 as part of the PROWATER Joint Programme sanitation initiatives.

Photos: Courtesy of UNICEF