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World Toilet Day: why every toilet matters in an emergency

World Toilet Day: why every toilet matters in an emergency

Food. Water. Shelter. When an emergency happens, these are the things we know people desperately need.

But when thousands are displaced, with makeshift camps likely to be their home for weeks and months to come, there’s something else that’s vital: toilets.

Responding to the Rohingya crisis

Right now, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Plan International’s Rohingya Response team are working tirelessly to help thousands of people who have fled the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Thanks to your incredible support for our Rohingya emergency appeal, and the help of our local partners on the ground, they’re setting up vital child protection projects, as well as much-needed WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programmes.

Orla Murphy, Country Director for Plan International Bangladesh, explains why:

Stopping the spread of deadly diseases

More than 604,000 Rohingya people have already fled Rakhine state, so the pressure on facilities in and around Cox’s Bazar is enormous.

In some areas, as many as 150 people have been sharing a single toilet.

Having enough decent toilets – along with water for handwashing – is vital for helping to stop the spread of potentially deadly diseases, which pose a real danger in the already cramped and overcrowded conditions.

Having access to basic WASH facilities also enables people to maintain their dignity, something that is especially important for girls and women.

Without them, they’ll often wait until dark to go to the toilet, putting them in real physical danger. In addition, many will have to manage having their period in these challenging conditions.

That’s why our teams are also distributing thousands of dignity kits to adolescent girls and young women, which include the essential items they need to manage their periods.

400 emergency toilets, and counting

Thanks to your support, we've been able to work with the local community to find out their WASH needs and identify the best places to construct new toilets.

To date, we've already built 400 emergency toilets, provided hygiene kits to 10,000 families and reached more than 21,000 people with hygiene sessions, so they feel confident looking after and maintaining their new toilets.

But there's still so much more we need to do. 

Modina and her two daughters next to a makeshift toilet in their camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
"I eat less so I don’t need to go to the toilet," says Modina, 23. She and her two daughters stand next to a makeshift toilet in their camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“I eat less so I don’t need to go to the toilet”

23-year-old Modina is just one of the women in Cox’s Bazar navigating the myriad difficulties of life in the camp. She shares a tiny tent with her two daughters, who are five and six.

“I collect water and preserve it for drinking,” Modina tells us.

“I can live without food for two days, but without water, my children will die. They are already suffering from diarrhoea. They were healthy before.

“I eat less, so I don’t need to go [to the toilet] very often. My children use open places and at night I go to the jungle. I don’t know how long I will have to continue like this. My children keep me going.”


We help children and communities before and after disasters and emergencies strike