Portable toilet used in cyclone response

TopWan community based saniation enterprise have supported families in Teouma Valley, Vanuatu, with an improved toilet and hand-washing facility after they were displaced when Tropical Cyclone Donna damaged their homes. The families are currently sleeping in the community kindergarten building while they rebuild their homes. They were forced to use the bush as a temporary place to go to the toilet, and had no hand-washing facilities.


TopWan construction staff joined with Live & Learn staff and a representative from the Department of Public Health to meet the community leaders and discuss sanitation strategies for the families. A TopWan portable toilet and shelter has been constructed, and a portable hand-washing facility set-up. The facilities were used by the families over the weekend, and TopWan staff and Live & Learn will visit the community early this week to get some feedback from the community on the application of the Portable Toilet product in this kind of context.

TopWan staff were requested to visit Teouma Valley by the Shefa Provincial Government. This is the first time the TopWan sanitation enterprise has worked with government in disaster response, and the TopWan staff are happy that their products are able to support communities have safe sanitation while they rebuild their homes.


Funding support for the TopWan portable toilets used in the response has come through Live & Learn’s partnership with Engineers Without Borders Australia. TopWan community sanitation enterprise is supported by Live & Learn through the Australian government Civil Society WASH Fund.


Constructing Portable Toilets in Vanuatu


Six staff from the two Sanitation Enterprises in Port Vila, Vanuatu, recently improved their construction knowledge by participating in training to build their own tool boxes and portable toilet’s for people living with disabilities and children.

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The training was facilitated by Matt King, a volunteer through Engineers Without Borders who is providing technical mentoring to the sanitation enterprises on sanitation designs in challenging environments. The workshop was a combination of classroom lessons and practical exercises. After the workshop, each of the six construction staff are able to construct a standard toolkit box, knew how safety to use the tools, how to select sites for toilet locations, and how to construct portable toilets.

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Willie Cholie is one of the construction staff from the SAMAPETA Sanitation Enterprise at Erakor Half Road. He said, “I was so privilege to be part of the WASH-CBSE project. I learn a lot in this informative training practical. I will utilize what I learn and try to help my community through building a good and wealthy, healthy environment!”

The portable toilets are being sold through the recently launched TopWan sanitation brand following good publicity in Vanuatu newspapers and other media. Several toilets have been sold already and more are being constructed by both sanitation enterprises to meet customer demand.

Hygiene training for sanitation enterprises in Vanuatu

Staff from the two sanitation enterprises in Vanuatu recently participated in hygiene education sessions to build their understanding of the health benefits of good sanitation and washing hands with soap.


The SAMAPETA and Tuburah community-based sanitation enterprise staff participated in hygiene education activities based on Live & Learn’s Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) resources, including community hygiene and sanitation mapping exercises and how washing hands with soap disrupts the transmission pathways of many diseases.


Hygiene education like this is an important part of the hygiene promotion activities of the community-based sanitation enterprises. As part of generating demand for toilet ownership the sanitation enterprise need to be able to answers questions from potential customers in the community about the benefits of having an improved toilet.


The hygiene education sessions will be complemented by further training in social marketing methods for hygiene promotion, and hygiene promotion campaigns linked to toilet sales campaigns. Hygiene promotion using a social marketing approach combines education activities with marketing approaches that target the attitudes, habits and motivations of people in the community concerning their health.


The hygiene education training was provided by Live & Learn through the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation project, funded by the Australian government through the Civil Society WASH Fund.

Vanuatu toilets are the TopWan!

Today is a big day for two sanitation enterprises in Blacksand and Erakor Half Road because it is the launch of the TopWan Sanitation brand in Port Vila. TopWan branded toilet and sanitation products are produced, installed and sold by by Tuburah Sanitation Enterprise, and by SAMAPETA Sanitation Enterprise. To celebrate the launch, a special edition of TopWan branded Toilet Paper has been produced.

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The TopWan brand was launched by the Minister of Health, Honorable Jerome Ludvaune, and Australian High Commission Senior Program Manager Patrick Haines. Pictured above is Mr Patrick Haines revealing the TopWan logo together with the two women leaders of the sanitation enterprises. The launch is an outcome of a project implemented by Live & Learn Environmental Education Vanuatu called the Westen Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation Program. This is a project funded by the Australian government through the CS WASH Fund to help improve sanitation and hygiene practices in peri urban areas in Port Vila. In his speech Honorable Jerome Ludvaune said that the Ministry is quite fortunate to be part of the event and to officially launch TopWan Brand. He mentioned that this is the first time in Vanuatu a community-based sanitation enterprise is established and will be the first locally owned sanitation enterprise. He is grateful to Live & Learn and DFAT in implementing this project in Shefa Province.


Tuburah and SAMAPETA sanitation enterprises operate Sanitation Parks in two areas in Port Vila for families interested in learning more about the types of TopWan toilet products available. The two community-based sanitation enterprise have been marketing in their community through talking about the products that they sell. One of the products that has caught the attention of many community members are portable toilets. Many families are interested in buying a portable toilets as this makes it easier for family members living with some form of disability to have access to sanitation. The TopWan portable toilet is easy to use and clean, and  and takes a huge burden from caregivers.


Growing Good Citizens

“These children, most of them come from the crowded homes on the plantation – four families in one house – and we tell them if you work hard here at school you can change your life through education!”


It was mid-afternoon, hot and steamy in PNG. I was sitting with two teachers, chatting on the balcony of a classroom while waiting for the Live & Learn car to come and take us home after spending the day with the WASH in Schools program in the school.

“We used to have a problem with fighting in the school, but since the child rights and peace program started we don’t have problems with fights. Now the children show respect. Now the children are working hard at their studies.”

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I had to agree with the teacher. I had just spent time with 60 of the students representing Grade 4 to Grade 8 in a hot sweaty classroom. I wanted their opinions on the work they had done through their Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) Club, and they were attentive, respectful, self-directed and thoughtful. In 2012 Live & Learn PNG worked with this school to conduct child development training, including child rights training and establishing a student peace club called Joyful Friends. The first students in the club were in Grade 3 – now these students are in Grade 8, about to graduate from primary school. The Live & Learn project ended, but the Joyful Friends club became fully integrated into the school culture. Now students from Grades 4 to 8 are selected each year to serve in Joyful Friends.

In 2014 Live & Learn returned to work with the school on a WASH in Schools program. Joyful Friends Club was operating well and the children were keen to participate in more projects. Now students in Joyful Friends are expected to make speeches at all school events. They have taken responsibility of assessing each classroom to make sure Hygiene Corners are stocked with toilet paper and soap. They have painted hygiene message murals on the walls of the toilet block, and successfully advocated with the teachers for the toilet doors to all be repaired so everyone has privacy when going to the toilet. The students in the club also serve as prefects for the school – conducting hand-washing demonstrations, making sure soap is on the toilet sinks, taking charge of the school gate, making sure rubbish is collected, the toilet cleaning responsibilities are fulfilled, etc

Another teacher told me how she left the school to teach in another one closer to town. After two years she returned to this school because she felt the learning environment was better and the students had more self-discipline. When she returned she could immediately see that the Joyful Friends club had been working to improve hygiene and sanitation. Almost 1000 children attend this school. Every teacher in the school is now integrating hygiene activities into their classroom activities.


The day of my visit was World Water Day. The entire school was celebrating the day with poster displays, songs and performances. Members of the Joyful Friends shared reasons why water is so important for life, and why it should be protected. Groups of students performed songs they had composed specifically for the day. Their proud teachers wore wide smiles during the performances: “A few years ago these students were fighting. Now they are singing their own songs and being leaders for the other students. We are growing future good citizens in this school,” one of the teachers told me.

I spent some time talking with the Grade 8 students, the elders of the Joyful Friends Club, and asked them to share their wisdom from nearly five years in the club. Each student wrote on star stickers three things they were proud of doing through Joyful Friends, and then they wrote on cloud stickers three suggestions for what the club can do in the future. We put stickers all over the classroom wall to share their thoughts. The school still faces challenges – there are nearly 1000 students and only eight toilets, water access is good but they need more places in the school for children to be able to easily wash their hands. The teachers were outside, so this work was completely owned by the students. They wrote: “Joyful Friends brought teachers and students together to live in a healthy environment,” and “I hope that someday later Joyful Friends will change the whole world by helping others to live a healthy life.” As we all stood together to read the responses I was proud of these students too – this school in West New Britain province in PNG is definitely growing the next generation of good citizens.


This article was written by Michelle Abel, Project Advisor for the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation Program, which is implemented by Live & Learn in PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu with funding from the Australian government through the CS WASH Fund.

Practical Action for World Water Day in Fiji


Staff and volunteers from the Community-based Sanitation Market (CBSM) in Fiji decided to celebrate World Water Day in a practical way in their local community. Fiji has experienced very heavy rains in the past few months, with some communities experiencing flooding. The theme for World Water Da in 2017 concerns wastewater, and the importance of minimising wastewater, and reuse of wastewater. In response to this volunteers decided to help the families in their community.


Volunteers worked through the community to conduct a general clean up of rubbish and debris from recent heavy rainfall. Other volunteers assessed the places in the community where drainage is poor and worked with households to dig improved drainage. Other volunteers offered the external walls of their homes as a canvas for positive messages about keeping water supplies clean through keeping communities clean, and the importance of washing hands for health.


The CBSM is also involved in the national celebration of World Water Day in Fiji, with participation in a two-day forum and public celebration. News from this event will be shared on the blog soon! The support for the CBSM in Fiji is provided by Live & Learn through the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation project, funded by the Australian government through the Civil Society WASH Fund.


Action on WASH in Daru Schools


In March School leaders and teachers on the island of Daru in Western Province of PNG worked with Live & Learn PNG and Live & Learn Vanuatu to establish Water Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) Committees, and write plans to address sanitation and hygiene issues in their schools. WASH Committees are now functioning in three schools on Daru, with the school leadership and representatives of parents and teachers discussing water, sanitation and hygiene issues for their schools based on the participatory Bottleneck Analysis case study reports produced with the help of Live & Learn. The school board chairman from one of the schools thanked Live & Learn for helping them learn and discuss so much valuable information in a short time!


David Coulon, an education specialist train from Live & Learn Vanuatu worked with the Live & Lean team in Daru to prepare and conduct a hygiene promotion training program with teachers from all schools in Daru. The schools on Daru face serious hygiene and sanitation challenges, with open delectation common due to lack of toilets. One school started the school year with some classes operating in tents donated by UNICEF when classroom buildings were condemned. During the training the teachers from the schools wrote a Theory of Change to address the sanitation and hygiene issues in their schools, which was then used as a basis for action plans.


The teachers and the school WASH committees also determined their approach for starting WASH Clubs with the students as part of engaging the children in taking action to improve hygiene practice at the schools. At the conclusion of the training the participants presented their plans for how they will utilise what they learned. Each school stated that their priority was to immediately establish active WASH Committees and student WASH Clubs. At the conclusion of the training. Certificates were presented to each teacher by the Daru government director for education. The principal and chairman of each school viewed the presentations and commented on the energy and commitment of the teachers to conduct hygiene activities.


WASH in schools activities in Daru are implemented by Live & Learn with the support from the Australian Government through the CS WASH Fund.

World Water Day Preparations: March 22


The Communithy-based Sanitation Market (CBSM) in Fiji is joining with Live & Learn Fiji and the Fijian Government to mark World Water Day. The CBSM have been invited to attend two days National World Water Day Celebrations that will be held in Levuka Town (the old Capital of Fiji). On Tuesday 21st March, the CBSM will be among a number of Government & NGOs presenting to more than 200 guests. The focus of the presentation is how their work contributes to the theme for World Water Day 2017 – Wastewater. On Wednesday 22nd March, the CBSM have been invited to set up a display booth to showcase their work and their products and services. They have also been requested by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs to facilitate a demonstration for making slabs and risers to a total of 90 people who hold the Village Health Worker positions, Village Headman positions and other lead positions in the village structure.

In the six Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation project sites in Fiji the CBSM Hygiene Promotion Officers will take the lead in organizing a community clean up day to improve their drainage and waste water drains. In addition to this, two homeowners have volunteered to have their homes painted with Hygiene Promotion messages.

In the schools partnering with Live & Learn on a WASH in Schools program an artist will work with the Parents and Teachers Association in using Art to advocate for improved sanitation & hygiene behaviour in the schools. The PTA will be engaged in schools to paint messages on the walls of the school toilet block and other areas approved by the school management. The artist will also help facilitate a poster competition, a poetry competition, and a waste water management model design competition. Look for photographs and reports on all of these activities later in March!

World Water Day is held on 22 March. The theme for 2017 is Wastewater.  Globally the vast majority of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials. Live & Learn works with community-based sanitation enterprises in PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji to provide affordable toilets to families that minimise wastewater and are designed with appropriate drainage to manage any wastewater. The Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation project is implemented by Live & Learn using funding from the Australian government through the CS WASH fund.


Toilet construction training in Kimbe, PNG


Two youth members of the Dagi Community-based Sanitation Enterprise expressed gratitude for the skills and new innovative ideas they learned during the recent toilet construction training with Dagi Community Sanitation Enterprise in Kimbe, Papua New Guinea. At the end of the training Greg Aisim said:

“We’re now empowered with new skills and technical know-how. We thought that expensive ceramic toilet riser seats (toilet bowls) were the only way for us to have pour or button flush toilet systems. Thanks to the training we can now build a similar product locally using stronger and affordable concrete.”

Greg Aisim is pictured with Ambrose Napi alongside one of the prototype concrete riser seats for a pour flush toilet system built during the training. Live & Learn staff in PNG conducted the training with construction staff of Dagi community sanitation enterprise and the newly established Saraklock sanitation enterprise. The training focused on adapting designs to cope with the local environmental challenges. Dagi community is in an area where seasonal flooding is a major concern so pit toilets are not suitable. A traditional commercial button or pour flush septic system is too expensive for families – costing between PGK3000 to PGK7800 per unit. The low cost system designed by Dagi community sanitation enterprise has material costs of around PGK500. During the training Saraklock sanitation enterprise developed both a wooden toilet seat riser and a concrete seat riser, while Dagi sanitation enterprise focused on improving construction skills for concrete seat risers.


Greg expressed gratitude to Live & Learn and the Australian government, as the project is contributing towards skills development, and youth empowerment. Young people in peri-urban communities like Dagi Community face being labeled as potential trouble-makers, through this project Greg and Ambrose feel they can escape this label by contributing to the community through improving sanitation.

The Dagi and Saraklock community sanitation enterprises are supported by Live & Learn through the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation project, which is funded by the Australian government through the CS WASH Fund.

This story was provided by Philemon Karema, Live & Learn PNG

Floods and WASH in peri-urban Solomon Islands


During February much of the South Pacific has been affected by extremely heavy rain. Many South Pacific countries experienced flooding at the same time. In Honiara, Solomon Islands, many parts of the city experienced flooding (including the Live & Learn office!). On the 7th of February one of our sanitation enterprise communities recorded 65mm of rainfall in just three hours. This cause the level of the rivers to rise, and most drainage system within Honiara city become blocked and compromised. The heavy rain in the Solomon Islands affected the accessibility of clean water, with the Solomon Islands Water Authority reporting extensive damages to the main distribution pipeline. As a result the two pilot schools in the WASH in Schools program joined many other schools in Honiara and delayed the start of the school year: “Without water our toilets, and sanitation in general, will be affected” school principals said. During this wet time Live & Learn Hygiene Promotion officer Angela Isihanua worked with the Namoliki and Henderson community sanitation enterprises to conduct WASH Walks in their communities.

img_0856The objective of a WASH Walk is for community members to assess the current WASH situation in the community and collect qualitative data on changes, improvements and challenges. Angela begins by introducing the activity and facilitating a discussion on who will participate in the walk. Participants are then given each copy of the previous WASH Walk report to look through while they walk so they can capture any changes, or improvements occurred in the past 12 months. These changes are then captured on an updated WASH community map.


Namoliki is a very steep peri-urban area, with houses built along the hillsides. During the previous 12 months heavy rain had caused several small landslides, including one that resulted in dealths of some family members. Newcomers to this peri-urban community continue to build housing on the steep slopes. The participants on the WASH Walk were concerned that the construction of new houses is increasing the risk of landslides during heavy rain, and increased risk of contaminating the drinking water source in the base of the valley. They were also worried about the continued lack of toilets due to the difficult terrain.


The WASH Walk identified new household water tanks that had been installed, and also the construction of the new sanitation park by the community-based sanitation enterprise, including demonstration models of different types of toilets. The WASH Walk activity is considered a good monitoring tool by the community, as it helps them to look back and see what changes have happened with the WASH situation, and replan and take action on what needs to improve. The WASH Walk report captures the WASH changes, improvements, challenges and gives a benchmark for the community to look into ways of improving their WASH situation. It also allows the community to celebrate any success that has been achieved over the previous 12 months.


This is one of the activities implemented by Live & Learn Solomon Islands through the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation Program, funded by the Australian government through the CS WASH fund.

This article was written with the help of Angela Isihanua, Hygiene Promotion Officer for WPSMIP Live & Learn Solomon Islands.