In East Timor, around two thirds of the population do not have access to toilets. Plan is improving sanitation in the districts of Aileu and Lautem by helping to install toilets and providing information on important hygiene practices such as hand washing.
For Graciana, 9, who lives in a village in Aileu district, the lack of toilet facilities was a big problem.
Without access to toilets, waste often ends up in public spaces, which leads to an increased risk of disease. In addition, the lack of toilet facilities in schools can result in lower school attendance – particularly for girls.
With Plan’s support, Graciana's community has been able to install latrines in homes and schools around the village. Now Graciana and her family have their own toilet and have more knowledge about the benefits of good hygiene.
Plan is also supporting the wider community to discuss issues relating to water and sanitation, and to devise new initiatives to maintain good standards of hygiene. This community-led approach has been implemented in 12 towns and villages and will continue to be rolled out in 80 communities across the Aileu and Lautem districts.
As a result of Plan’s work, eight communities in East Timor have already been declared ‘open defecation free’, which has been celebrated by East Timor’s Ministry for Health. Some 865 households - more than 4,000 people - now have access to latrines thanks to Plan’s support.
For Graciana, having something as simple as a toilet has made a big difference.
“Now we have a toilet, I feel happy. I also feel more comfortable,” she said. “And now we know about how to not get sick, how to stop dirty things getting into our food and why we must wash our hands.”