Which of these is a human right?
- The right to use a telephone?
- The right to go anywhere you want?
- The right to own a car?
- The right to use a toilet?
- The right to drink coffee?
Hopefully you’ve guessed it...the right to drink coffee!
No, sorry, that’s my caffeine obsession again. (for more on caffeine obsession, see Join Jon).
The answer is: the right to use the toilet.
That, at last, became a human right in 2010 and, considering that we have known for over 100 years that bacteria causes disease, 2010 seems quite late for such a fundamental right.
At FRANK Water, we’re working primarily on gaining marginalised communities access to water but we also make sure that those communities are making progress on their sanitation. And we make sure they are being given the opportunity to understand how poor hygiene can affect their lives.
That’s because our overall aim is to improve health, not purely access to water and sanitation.
The most common way of teaching people about health and hygiene in rural India is through plays and dramas. Imagine a travelling band of actors, roaming the countryside, visiting villages who have no electricity, no tv, very little access to theatre or the cinema.
The epic tales they tell vary but the moral is always the same: “Wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet. Those that don’t - get ill.”
It’s a simple punch line but it’s amazing how people all over the world are unable to take it in.
So it is not a surprise that there is still some way to go to ensure that the whole world is using good sanitation and washing their hands.
After all, did you wash your hands before eating lunch yesterday?