World Toilet Day

It’s World Toilet Day!

On the 19th of November, the United Nations has organised ‘World Toilet Day’ in response to the startling fact that 2.5 billion people across the world do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets or latrines. In fact, according to the World Toilet Organization, 1 billion people (15% of the world population) are forced to practice open defecation just because of they lack access to a clean and safe toilet.

A COCO Supported Toilet Block

A COCO Supported Toilet Block

Poor sanitation is extremely dangerous, causing diarrhoeal diseases and death amongst thousands of children every year. Additionally, the lack of clean and safe toilets place girls and women at risk of sexual violence. The Secretary General of the UN, Bank Ki-moon, argues that, “We have a moral imperative to end open defecation and a duty to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility.”

When tackling poverty, providing a clean and safe toilet can be more important than what you think. The World Toilet Organization argues that every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates a $4.3 return in the form of reduced health care costs.

A New Toilet Block At Mercy Primary School

World Toilet Day is important for the environment too. Under Sustainable Development Goal 14, the global community has a responsibility to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This includes an imperative to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025. Without toilets, many people are force to resort to open defecation. According to the World Health Organization, many common diseases that can give diarrhoea can spread from one person to another when people defecate in the open air. During the rainy seasons, excrement may be washed away by rain-water. It may run into wells and streams, and the germs in the excreta will then contaminate the water which may be used for drinking, cooking or washing. This in turn leads to the spread of diseases like cholera and typhoid.

In order to tackle this problem at our overseas projects, COCO has built new toilet blocks for students and teachers. By providing toilets at school, it is hoped that students won’t feel that they have to miss out on education. This may be particularly important for female students who would otherwise suffer from a lack of privacy, especially during menstruation.

Toilets have been constructed across our overseas projects, including at Mercy Primary School, The Hoja Project, and Uwawayaki Nursery School. COCO has also worked to make these toilets serve the local communities by providing compost and biogas to help fertilize crops and provide fuel for cooking.

Children Washing Their Hands Before Lunch

Children Washing Their Hands Before Lunch

It may seem like such a simple thing, but a toilet really can make all the difference to a child’s life.


Hello 2015!

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We had a fantastic start to the year with one of COCO’s founders, Steve Cram, awarded the very much deserved CBE in the New Year honours! 2015 is also set to be a very exciting year for us as we turn 15 this year. To celebrate this amazing achievement, we are launching ’15 Challenges in 2015’ and hope to raise £150,000 for our Schools for Life Programme. There really is something for everybody, from the Kielder Marathon to climbing Kilimanjaro! Check out all 15 challenges here or even come up with your own idea for #coco15 and get in touch! We would love to help! So keep an eye out for exciting times ahead with the hashtag #coco15. Coco15

Meanwhile, we have many updates on numerous projects we’ve been busy with including rainwater harvesting, solar lamps and the success of permaculture training in Songea, rural Tanzania.

Water & Sanitation at Mercy Primary

Since June 2014, COCO has been working in partnership with Development Direct and Water for Kids to help implement rainwater harvesting, safe drinking water, handwash facilities and composting toilets at Mercy Primary School in Mbita, Kenya. Water for Kids supported Development Direct with a donation of £3,000 which was matched by a donation of £3,092.48 from COCO. Mercy Primary is one of COCO’s ‘Schools for Life’ where Water and Sanitation is one of the 6 elements. Prior to the implementation of the water and sanitation project, students were prone to waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera and had to walk to a bore hole 1.5km away to collect water.

Schools for Life

The rainwater harvesting system involved the installation of a guttering system which collects rainwater and stores it in a new water storage tank. This water is then treated to provide students and teachers with safe drinking water and clean water to wash their hands with after using the new composting toilets.

Jan 15 Mercy Handwashing

As a result:

  • Students are suffering from fewer waterborne diseases.
  • Students no longer have exhausting walks to collect water, and can therefore remain in their lessons.
  • The water has enabled a ‘Food Forest’ to be implemented at the school, which despite the dry weather conditions, manages to supply students and teachers with nutritious foods including cassava, sweet potatoes and paw paw.
  • The composting toilets produce compost that can be used for growing fruit trees, helping improve the sustainability of the school. There is currently one composting toilet, with a further two under construction.

Thanks to your support COCO has been able to support this project, alongside partners Development Direct and Water for Kids, and consequently helped benefit 150 students at the school together with 8 teachers and 200 members of the local community.

Solar Lamps

In October 2013, alongside The Nuru Fund, COCO provided 70 solar lamps to the Hoja Project. The lamps were given as a loan, all of which have been paid off. 40 lamps were given to school students and 30 lamps were given to members of the community. The lamps have provided recipients the opportunity to generate an income, as members of the community can pay to use the lamps to charge their mobile phone. Furthermore, 86% of recipients report that they use the lamp to continue studying after dark. Education is further enhanced as students can use generated income to buy educational materials. It was also found that the generation of income from the lamps significantly contributed to food security for recipients and their families.

food security

You can see that the amount of people who were food secure increased from 16.7% to 75% as a result of receiving a solar lamp, highlighting their importance to families and communities.

Kundra Kunji of Hoja Secondary School was one of the students who received a solar lamp. She has stated that it was easy to make the loan repayments and that “Having electricity helps me to study and perform well. Before I got my lamp I used to get between 39 and 45%, but I am now getting 45 to 60%.”

Solar Lamp


We were also honoured to be given a shout out in an article on permaculture by expert, Lucie Bradley, published through The Permaculture Research Institute. You can read her article hereto find out about the ‘permaculture revolution’ in Tanzania. Her article is full of some great information on how permaculture is transforming lives whilst also being largely beneficial to the the environemnt. Lucie was instrumental in COCO getting involved with permaculture. Recently, COCO supported The Hoja Project to provide permaculture training to five Community Based Organisations. We would like to thank all of those who participated in the Ballyquin Picnic Fundraiser which helped raise the £1,271 which was used to help provide the training. Here you can see the full benefits.

Ballyquin Picnic

The benefits of permaculture often continue for many years. COCO is proud to say that as a result of previous permaculture training provided alongside The Hoja Project, several farmers were able to increase their income and as a result decided to set up Litisha Nursery in 2012. The nursery currently has 46 pupils, one teacher and a cook. All of the pupils are studying pre standard level one, which will help to give them a head start before starting primary school when they are 6 or 7 years old. One of the pupils, Loveness Joseph (fourth from the left), is 6 years old and dreams of becoming a teacher.

Loveness Joseph

That’s all from the COCO Chronicles this month! Thank you very much for reading and make sure you keep an eye out for February’s blog through Facebook and Twitter!

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A glimpse of life in the developing world?

Taken for granted?

In the week running up to Christmas the COCO office was left without water thanks to frozen pipes. This meant we had to walk down one flight of stairs to get water/ use the toilet!!

So when we discovered the article below in the excellent Guardian online development section we thought it would make a particulalrly appropriate addition to The COCO Chronicles.

Let us know what you think!