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Thai toilet expo proves popular -

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Thai toilet expo proves popular

AM - Friday, 17 November , 2006 08:32:00

Reporter: Karen Percy

TONY EASTLEY: It's not the sort of exhibition you would think would be popular, but the World
Toilet Expo has attracted hundreds of delegates from across host nation, Thailand as well as South
East Asia.

The popularity stems from a push by many of the countries to improve sanitation and hygiene,
something they say improves community health as well as the economic bottom line.

South East Asian Correspondent Karen Percy reports.

(Sound of kids cheering)

KAREN PERCY: With a flush and a cheer, the second World Toilet Expo and forum got underway in
Bangkok.

There are 800 delegates from 30 countries here, all looking to lift the lid on a taboo subject.

JACK SIM: People all over the world find it very difficult to talk about the subject.

KAREN PERCY: Jack Sim is head of the World Toilet Organisation, the lesser-known WTO.

He's brought health specialists, governments and corporations together to discuss the issues of
hygiene and sanitation, and to show off the most advanced technology and techniques.

(Sound of visitors)

In the vast showroom there's everything from air fresheners and toilet tissue, to the latest in
flush-free toilets and germ-fighting hand washes.

(Sound of flushing)

The aptly named Thai company Poo-Koo has developed a new kind of faucet, which uses a button
instead of a tap.

SALESMAN: One touch activates and another touch turns it off.

KAREN PERCY: Now the name of your company, Poo-Koo, that must get a few giggles every now and then?

SALESMAN: Well, that's a name by our boss. I don't have her explanation for it.

Yeah, anyway, so it's suitable for toilet (inaudible) I guess.

KAREN PERCY: A major Japanese company has developed a device, which promises dry hands within five
seconds.

SALESMAN 2: Wash your hand and do you want to dry them.

(Sound of hand dryer)

KAREN PERCY: But beyond the gadgetry and giggles, there are serious issues that need to be
addressed as the World Bank's sanitation specialist Isabel Blackett explains.

ISABEL BLACKETT: There's impact on health, in particular on infant mortality. There's a lot of
impact for women on privacy, dignity, ability of women to cope during pregnancy, for old people.

KAREN PERCY: Fixing such problems can fundamentally change a community.

Isabel Blackett again.

ISABEL BLACKETT: Countries with poor sanitation invariably are not good tourist destinations.
Investment, sanitation is a basic infrastructure that potential investors look at that is almost so
taken for granted it's not stated.

When it's not there, it's a big turn off.

KAREN PERCY: The World Toilet Organisation is working with other agencies to assist towns and
villages across the region, including those in East Timor and Sri Lanka.

They're providing toilets for the people of Aceh, whose homes and lives were devastated in the 2004
tsunami.

They're also undertaking a program to upgrade 300,000 schools in rural China.

This is Karen Percy in Bangkok reporting for AM.