On the blog

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Poverty statistics: the soap scandal

When we think of poverty statistics they’re usually the big ones. Like the 1 in 4 people who live below the poverty line; or the 1 in 10 who don’t have access to clean water, and the 1 in 3 without adequate sanitation.

The WashCost project, recently revealed some statistics about soap we think you’ll find surprising:
  • In Ghana, communities spend US$ 26 per capita per year on soap, more than the per capita cost of a small town water system.
  • In Mozambique, households are spending up to 5% of their cash-income on soap.
A Tearfund survey in North Sudan in 2008 found that only 30% of homes had soap available for hand washing, simply because it was too expensive!

All very interesting you say, but what’s it got to do with poverty… well, here are some more statistics on poverty that may shock you:
  • Hand washing with soap has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by over 40 percent
  • Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. (WHO)
  • UNICEF estimates that almost half of the deaths from diarrhea each year could be prevented through an understanding of basic hygiene.
Get me some soap!
How then can we help people access this expensive but necessary commodity?
  • By making it! Soap is in most basic form is the combination of animal fat and lye water made from rainwater passed through ordinary cooking ash. Making soap is much cheaper than buying it – although it does take time.
  • If soap is not available, ash, tree bark, soil or sand can be used instead.
  • Setting up health clubs in the community, including school clubs for kids, to communicate health messages about the importance of soap and handwashing.
  • Training local volunteers as health club facilitators to continue to spread the message.
For example, international charity Tearfund has set up health clubs for 14,000 women and 65,000 children across the Dafur region to help promote good hygiene, including soap and hand washing. Tearfund is also showing people how to make soap.

This picture shows women from Omdurman in North Sudan, posing with their homemade soap on the last day of their soap-making training!

We at Toilet Twinning want these poverty statistics to change.

By linking your loo with a latrine in Africa, you’ll not only help give people access a decent toilet, but you’ll also help fund essential hygiene promotion and education programs like these. If you’d like more poverty, water and santitation statistics, you can read more on our website.

Please think about twinning your toilet today – or if you’re a seasoned twinner, tell your friends about us!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Guest Post for Big Bible Project: Using Digital Tools for Social Action

Toilet Twinning have recently been given the opportunity to write a guest blog post for the brilliant community site, Big Bible Project. The project promotes Bible reading within a community setting both online and offline, and is a great source of learning for social media and social action.

We were asked to write about digital tools for social action, using Toilet Twinning as an example.

So here it is, have a read! We were more than happy to contribute to this thriving online community.

Using Digital Tools for Social Action

We live our lives online.

We shop. We watch. We read. We share.

Looking for jobs. Looking for love. Looking for shoes.

The world is moving online, and that isn’t anything new to anyone. So if the days of window shopping can be replaced by the kind of windows you can minimize, surely the same digitalization is possible for the deeper aspects of humanity like religion, and charity?

Go deeper. Kindness, compassion, care.

As the digital village gets bigger and bigger, how can our Christian values translate online? The Bible says to care for the poor, to love our neighbour and to seek justice. How do we strive to do these things in an increasingly electronic world?...

Read the rest of the post on the Big Bible blog!