“[We have] no proper place to dispose of the poo and the distance from the house to the shared toilet is far.” This is one of the reasons a mother gave to a team of WASH researchers in Bubumala village, Solomon Islands, to explain why she does not dispose of her children’s feces in a “safe” way.
The World Bank
’s Water and Sanitation Program considers safe disposal for a child’s stools to be in a toilet or latrine. But in the Solomon Islands, parents might leave their child’s poop on the ground where it landed, throw it in the sea, a mangrove, or perhaps in the trash. Later, a child might play in that contaminated area and become seriously sick.
Around the world, child feces management, or CFM, is a complex, neglected issue causing childhood illness and death. While water, sanitation, and hygiene programs seek to tackle open defecation in communities, they have historically addressed children’s toileting habits inadequately. Communities misunderstand the serious outcomes of CFM and societal factors, including gender roles in childcare, affect the problem...