Health and Hygiene For Typhoon Victims

March 27, 2014 • Philippines

A new toilet factory will help reduce the threat of disease in storm-affected Filipino villages

When disasters wipe out entire cities and leave victims unable to meet their own basic needs, Samaritan’s Purse responds in a variety of ways from providing food and water to building shelters.

One way we are serving storm victims in the Philippines is through an important but perhaps easily overlooked program—supplying toilets.

It has been nearly five months since Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the Philippines. Samaritan’s Purse is still there, committed to meeting the needs of people still trying to recover from the storm. Health and hygiene are a vital part of our work to reduce the likelihood of disease. Recently, these efforts included establishing a toilet factory.

The factory is situated on a beautiful beach in Tanauan, a town where Samaritan’s Purse’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and shelter programs have been operating to meet local disaster victim needs.

A cash-for-work program provides an income for local villagers.

A cash-for-work program provides an income for local villagers.

The factory produces 115 new toilets daily at a cost of less than $3 each. Six communal facilities have also been built on our sawmill sites. The factory hires 44 local cash-for-work employees, while Samaritan’s Purse employs local civil engineers from Eastern Visayas State University.

Four thousand toilets were resting at the beach awaiting the Samaritan’s Purse latrine kit distributions that started last week. We already conducted a shelter kit distribution earlier this month. Those receiving latrine kits are shelter program beneficiaries who do not have a toilet or whose toilet was damaged by the typhoon.

Household members receiving a toilet have to dig their own pit. Digging tools are available for loan. A team of Samaritan’s Purse educators will conduct training at each village to explain the importance of a household latrine and how to install it. There will also be a demonstration latrine at each village and a technician available to answer any questions recipients may have.

The assembled toilets are ready to be installed.

The assembled toilets are ready to be installed.

In addition to the latrines, Samaritan’s Purse has been distributing hygiene kits throughout the month of March. Following teachings about proper sanitation practices such as hand-washing techniques, each beneficiary received a blue jerry can complete with aqua tabs, a packet of juice, and a bag of biscuits.

“We are glad you’re here – that’s a big help. The poor needs your jerry cans, because they just use tubs or buckets to fetch water,” said Larissa LaBoga after receiving a hygiene kit.

Proclaiming the Gospel is an important aspect of all our programs. After hygiene education sessions, staff and volunteers share a message about Jesus as our eternal hope, that whoever drinks of the water He gives will never thirst again (John 4:14).

“I thought there were only five references about water in the Bible, but you taught us today that there are 300! We’re surrounded by water!” said Salvation, a retired teacher who enthusiastically sat at the front row throughout the entire two-hour session.

The WASH team has also installed community water systems at three temporary settlements that the local government built after the storm.

At the request of the government, Samaritan’s Purse committed to providing the bunkhouse communities with access to drinking water. After a few months of tireless digging, drilling wells, tapping city water lines, and countless testing, the systems are now functioning in all three communities. Samaritan’s Purse also plans to distribute hygiene and water kits within these communities, as well as conduct much-needed hygiene education.

Please pray for the people still struggling to recover from the storm, and for our staff as we continue to minister to needs and bring the Good News to these villages.