It sounds like it was pretty difficult to get your family onboard. Why did you continue insisting on having a toilet?
SD: As well as learning about the negative health impacts open defecation has on people’s health, especially children’s, the positive feedback I heard from other women I knew in the village who had recently constructed toilets made me even more certain that it would make life easier for my family, especially the women. We were all walking long distances early in the morning or late at night to relieve ourselves, and this was taking a lot of time, especially for my mother-in-law, who is old and tires out easily.
To ensure the toilet is hygienic and functional, Sumitra Devi and her family clean the toilet daily.
You now have a toilet. Does everyone in your family use it, and what change do you think it’s made to all of your lives?
SD: We constructed the toilet just before the monsoons, and since then, every family member has been using it and commenting on how it has made their lives easier! My mother-in-law often tells us how much happier she is now that she doesn’t have to walk out to relieve herself and has even taken on the responsibility of checking that the toilet is working and clean. My son and husband also tell me that they’re glad we have built a toilet as it is much more convenient and feels cleaner to them. For me, I’m so glad that my family have access to clean water and a clean toilet, and I’ve noticed that we all feel healthier. Although it is small, our toilet has made a big change to our lives.
"Although it is small, our toilet has made a big change to our lives.”
Canadian support for the AKDN Comprehensive Sanitation Initiative is enabling thousands of individuals like Sumitra Devi– shown here with her mother-in-law (right)– create a healthier future.
We are an international development organization and registered charity. Working in Africa and Asia, we tackle poverty on many fronts: improving access to quality education and health, increasing food security, creating economic opportunities for women and men, and building strong, resilient communities and local institutions. In Canada, we promote discussion and learning on global issues, raise funds, tap into Canadian expertise to strengthen our development work, and build partnerships with Canadian institutions. Since 1980, our programs have helped millions of people unlock their potential to build a better life.