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International Toilet Day to help out third wo -

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International Toilet Day to help out third world sanitation

AM - Monday, 19 November , 2007 08:26:00

Reporter: Sarah Clarke

TONY EASTLEY: There are special international or world days for just about everything.

Later this month we'll see Africa Industrialization Day and another celebrating World Television.

And this morning, Monday the 19th of November, is International Toilet Day.

In Australia the loo is often the subject of mirth but toilets are a very serious consideration in
developing countries where hygiene is really a matter of life and death.

On a small Indonesian island off the north-west coast of Sumatra, a local is being hailed a hero
because he's on track to build more than one thousand dunnies for a community deprived of the very
basic sanitation.

Here's environment reporter Sarah Clarke.

(sound of toilet flushing)

SARAH CLARKE: It's a luxury so many of us take for granted but every toilet flush uses as much
water as the average person in the developing world uses for a whole day's washing, cleaning,
cooking and drinking.

(sound of water spilling out of a tap)

Here on this small Indonesian island of Simeulue, the local community has been deprived of
sanitation and a clean toilet. Now they're being given this gift for the first time.

The community here has only had basic loos often set up over the same water sources they drink
from. But the Red Cross has found a solution.

His name is Den Den, but he's better known as Indonesia's answer to Kenny and for the past year
he's been designing and building what he says is the perfect latrine.

DEN DEN: And the contrast until now about 558 latrine.

SARAH CLARKE: Now the locals on this island are being taught virtually from scratch how to do it.
The fee for a new toilet is they must attend a workshop to learn the practice.

INDONESIAN RED CROSS SPOKESPERSON: We are, we easy to explain to them how to clean this latrine and
then how they can maintain it properly, showing them how to make it, the latrine clean.

SARAH CLARKE: Some of these toilets are in fact so well built, they're better than some houses in
the village

This man loved his loo so much, he gave it his personal touch, engraving love hearts on the

LOCAL (translated): Before, he and his family go to plant matters (phonetic) at the back of the
house to defecate and to take a shower, so with the new latrine, he is more comfortable because if
the rain comes he doesn't get sick.

SARAH CLARKE: But every year 4 million people die from diseases associated with contaminated water.

Bob Handby has been working on water sanitation projects for the Red Cross for 20 years.

BOB HANDBY: Certainly I think you'd have to say that they're getting on top of it, but it's going
to be a long time before everybody's got everything that they require following the tsunami and the
building of houses is a major project and along with the houses goes the toilets and the water
supply and the general infrastructure that goes with that.

SARAH CLARKE: And Denny's got a big job on his hands. He has to build around 1,300 loos by 2008.

(sound of toilet flushing)

TONY EASTLEY: Environment reporter Sarah Clarke.