13 May 2013

Public toilet helps clean up Kiribati atoll

1:20 pm on 13 May 2013

The Kiribati island of North Tarawa has become the first Pacific Island to be declared open defecation free.

The head of UNICEF's field office in Kiribati, Nuzhat Shahzadi, says open defecation is a big problem for Kiribati with some people going to the toilet in bushes and on the beach.

She says people on North Tarawa have learnt about the effects this is having on their health and with European Union funding, they have built a composting toilet for their community.

"They dig a hole, they use the local materials like brick, and with the coconut leaves they have made the structure and they have kept water and soap inside the toilet so that after they use it they can wash their hands. They cover the pit and they also use ash to prevent the smell and flies getting in."

Nuzhat Shahzadi says when she was in North Tarawa at the weekend she saw that the toilet is having a significant effect on the cleanliness of the beaches.

She says UNICEF is looking at funding options so the initiative can be implemented in other parts of Kiribati.