Fancy twinning your toilet? Seren Boyd tells us how
What is Toilet Twinning and how does it work?
Toilet Twinning is a charity campaign raising funds to provide
proper sanitation, clean water and hygiene education in some of the
poorest communities in the world. We're part of the international
development charity, Tearfund, and raise money for its water and
sanitation work. We tend to work in remote, hard-to-reach
communities, often in volatile regions and fragile states,
including countries such as the DRC and Central African
We invite people to 'twin' their toilet at home with a latrine
overseas - and so sponsor a loo for a family abroad. In return for
a one-off £60 donation, you receive a certifi cate of your 'toilet
twin', complete with a photo and its GPS coordinates. We fund
projects in about twenty-fi ve countries across three continents -
and you can choose which country your toilet is twinned with.
We work through local community-based partners. Our approach
focuses on enabling and equipping people to find their own
solutions to the issues that keep them trapped in poverty. While
our partners provide training and materials, it is generally the
families themselves who do the hard work and build their own
latrines. That gives them 'ownership' of their toilet and means
they keep on using it.
Who came up with the idea?
When Toilet Twinning was first set up, it was a joint venture
between two charities: Tearfund and Cord, which is a peace and
reconciliation non-governmental organisation (NGO). Back in 2008,
Cord had an 'alter-native gift' catalogue. The wife of one of
Cord's managers sponsored a toilet in Burundi as a Christmas
present for her husband. Sian Atterton's stroke of genius was to
tape the picture of a latrine onto the loo seat at home on
Christmas morning and to add a sticky note bearing the words: "I've
twinned your loo." Her husband, Mark, was inspired.
After a few months of developing and tweaking the concept, Cord
launched Toilet Twinning. The initial target - to twin 500 toilets
in Burundi - was reached in just three months. Cord soon realised
Toilet Twinning had the potential to go global. In 2010, it joined
forces with Tearfund to extend the number of countries where
toilets could be twinned.
Five years later, Cord handed over the Toilet Twinning baton to
Tearfund so that it could focus on its peace-building work. Almost
95,000 toilets have been twinned to date.
Who can twin their toilets?
Anyone can twin their toilets - whether a household privy or a
WC in a stately home! We have great links with many churches,
schools, community groups and businesses.
Our main supporters are churches who have fundraised for us
through collections at festivals such as harvest (on the theme of
thanksgiving) and Lent, as well as through one-off fundraising
events to mark World Toilet Day on 19 November. Watnall Road
Baptist Church in Nottingham launched their Toilet Twinning
campaign with a spoof announcement in church that the church loos
were shut and 'poo bags' were available, so that people could 'do
their business and throw it outside'. They raised £3,600 through
weekly collections - enough to twin 60 toilets at £60 apiece, one
for every household.
Having twinned their own toilets, many churches go on to
spearhead community fundraising campaigns to make theirs a Toilet
Twinned town or village. This is an accolade we give to communities
who have pulled together to twin local toilets. On World Toilet Day
last year, Dunscore Church Eco Group declared every loo in their
village to be 'out of use': the only 'authorised' one was in the
church, they said, with tongue in cheek. They issued £5 fines to
anyone suspected of using a 'non-authorised' loo, or people could
pay £60 to get their own toilet 'authorised' (and twinned). They
raised a laugh and £900!
Schools have great fun mixing a good dose of British toilet
humour with serious messages about how loos save lives - and we
have had some wonderful support from them. They've come up with
their own brilliant fundraising ideas, including chicken poo bingo,
Splash Dash fun-runs and 'Bakes for Bogs' cake sales!
Inspired? Find out more: w: www.toilettwinning.org or t:
0300 321 3217
Bawili and her daughter, Ebinda - Democratic Republic of
Ebinda's father was killed during a civil war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo. The rest of the family fl ed to Tanzania and
spent ten years there in a refugee camp. When they were forcibly
returned to their own country, to South Kivu province, they had no
home, no clean water, no toilet.
Ebinda had to walk for ninety minutes, three times a day, to
collect water from Lake Tanganyika. The water was dirty and many
people fell sick with cholera. While still a teenager, Ebinda was
attacked by several men when she went to the toilet in the bush one
day. She fell pregnant as a result.
Determined not to let other families suffer as hers did,
Ebinda's mum, Bawili, joined a Community Health Club set up with
Toilet Twinning's support. It teaches local people about hygiene
and encourages them to build toilets. She's now club president.
As Bawili was unable to build her own loo, health club members
built her a toilet. "We're learning to work together… to love each
other," says Bawili. "If there is no love, we cannot build a good
society. We used to be ashamed when people shouted abuse as we
walked to the bush. I'm so happy to have a toilet."
To read about Bishwo and his family (Nepal) and Bridget (Uganda)
go to w: www.ourmagnet.co.uk/extra-resources-117