Your home likely contains at least one bathroom. For many people, not having a private toilet would be unthinkable. Yet more than 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation facilities.1 As a result, nearly 892 million must relieve themselves in fields, streams or other outdoor common areas, which leads to disease and other dangers.2 When people defecate near rivers and streams, the water—which some people use for drinking—becomes contaminated.3 In addition, human waste can collect in heaps and attract flies, which then carry disease-laden microbes wherever they land.4
Providing toilets and education on proper sanitation is a key part of GFA World’s clean water and sanitation efforts. In 2019, GFA workers installed 5,428 outdoor toilets in needy communities. Sisters of Compassion and other GFA workers have also raised awareness and conducted training on proper hygiene practices to help people improve their overall health. But many are still in need—and may die from diseases linked to their lack.
Please join us in praying this month for GFA World’s sanitation initiative and for those without proper sanitation facilities.
1 “Sanitation: Key facts.” World Health Organization. June 14, 2019 . https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sanitation
2 Saleem, Mahrukh; Burdett, Teresa; Heaslip, Vanessa. “Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review.” BMC Public Health. February 6, 2019. . https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6423-z
3 Rinkesh. “What is Open Defecation?” Conserve Energy Future. Accessed March 8, 2021. . https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/how-open-defecation-affect-human-health-environment-and-solutions.php
In many areas where GFA workers serve, people suffer from conditions such as hepatitis, cholera and dysentery because of open defecation.5 Every year, an estimated 842,000 people die from diarrheal diseases caused by contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.6 Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 5, and many cases could be prevented with proper sanitation.7 Unsanitary conditions, including those caused by open defecation, also contribute to malnutrition and stunting among children.8 These are ailments—and deaths—that could easily be prevented if people were aware of the dangers of open defecation. As GFA workers minister, they’re helping bring protection from these needless illnesses through prayer, education and practical help.
Pray that people, particularly children, will not die due to sanitation issues and ensuing disease. Pray for protection from illnesses and other physical issues associated with open defecation and improper sanitation.
5 Min, Ariel. “In world’s poorest slums, landfills and polluted rivers become a child’s playground.” PBS News Hour. February 12, 2015. . https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/in-worlds-poorest-slums-landfills-and-polluted-rivers-become-a-childs-playground
6 “Water sanitation hygiene: Diseases and risks.” World Health Organization. Accessed March 8, 2021. . https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases-risks/en/
7 “Diarrhea: Common Illness, Global Killer.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 6, 2019. . https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html
8 “5 Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Toilet.” FINCA. February 19, 2019. . https://finca.org/blogs/5-reasons-why-everyone-needs-a-toilet/
Women without sanitation facilities are particularly vulnerable, putting themselves at risk every time they relieve themselves. Women who practice open defecation are 40 percent more likely to experience sexual violence.9 One study indicated 51 out of 56 women who defecate in the open fear being watched or intruded on by men.10 In addition to the risk of assault, open defecation also has adverse effects on pregnancy, such as preterm birth and low birth rate.11 GFA workers care for the welfare of these women and seek to provide sanitation facilities where they can stay safe and keep their dignity.
Pray that women forced to defecate in the open will be protected from assault. Pray for their safety, as well as their health and the health of their unborn children.
9 Saleem, Mahrukh; Burdett, Teresa; Heaslip, Vanessa. “Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review.” BMC Public Health. February 6, 2019. . https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6423-z
Over the years, GFA World has provided thousands of sanitation facilities, improving the lives of individuals and entire communities in the name of Christ. Many families that received a toilet live on less than $1.90 a day and wouldn’t have been able to afford constructing a toilet on their own. It costs, on average, $540 to build an outdoor toilet with a dual-tank system for optimized sanitation. While GFA workers have provided hundreds of families and communities with sanitation facilities, the need remains.
Pray GFA workers will have all the necessary resources to provide sanitation facilities to hundreds more families and communities. Pray they can find materials and labor at a good cost.
For people in need, the gift of a toilet is a practical expression of love. Toilets can open unique doors for people to experience the love of a God who cares for even their most basic needs; they represent a daily reminder of God’s goodness. This revelation can be life changing as people learn, sometimes for the first time, of a compassionate Savior.
Pray people and communities who receive toilets from GFA World will experience God’s love. Pray God will reveal Himself to them in unique ways.
In 2012, the U.N. instituted World Toilet Day, celebrated every year on Nov. 19, which encourages behavioral and policy changes to increase sanitation awareness and access.12 GFA World conducts various programs to raise awareness of proper sanitation and hygiene practices on World Toilet Day and throughout the year. In addition to teaching people the importance of cleanliness and how it protects one’s health, GFA workers also use this day to provide toilets to families and communities in need, often demonstrating how to maintain and properly sanitize them.
Pray initiatives such as World Toilet Day and GFA health awareness seminars will help people who practice open defecation understand its dangers and find proper sanitation alternatives.
12 Mains, Karen Burton. “Fight Against Open Defecation Continues: Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation.” GFA World. November 14, 2020. . https://www.gfa.org/special-report/open-defecation-outdoor-toilets-improve-sanitation/
When improper sanitation practices such as open defecation are part of the cultural norm, cultural mindsets must alter. People need to come together as a community and enact change to create better lives for themselves and their children. GFA workers play an important role in this community development as they raise awareness of proper sanitation and teach handwashing and other hygiene practices among adults and children, including those in GFA’s sponsorship program.
Improved sanitation helps the entire community enjoy improved overall health. If even some people within the community continue to practice open defecation, it can endanger the entire community, bringing disease that could affect anyone.
Pray detrimental mindsets regarding sanitation will be transformed and entire communities will come together to implement proper sanitation practices for the benefit of all. Pray GFA workers will have wisdom as they contribute to this effort.
Join with us as we lift up in prayer those in need around the world. Receive prayer requests with a special focus each month. You can have a part in ministering to those in need, through our most powerful tool, prayer.