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Facts for Life


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All faeces, including those of babies and young children, should be disposed of safely. Making sure that all family members use a toilet, latrine or potty (for young children) is the best way to dispose of faeces. Where there is no toilet, faeces should be buried.

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Many illnesses, especially diarrhoea, come from germs found in human faeces. If the germs get into water or onto food, hands, utensils or surfaces used for preparing and serving food, they can be swallowed and cause illness. Safe disposal of all faeces – both human and animal – is the single most important action to prevent the spread of germs by people or flies. Human faeces need to be put down a toilet or latrine, or buried.

All faeces, including those of babies and young children, carry germs and are dangerous. If children defecate without using a toilet or latrine, their faeces should be cleaned up immediately and flushed down the toilet or put down the latrine or buried. Parents' or other caregivers' and children's hands should then be washed with soap and water or a substitute, such as ash and water.

If it is not possible to use a toilet or latrine, everyone should always defecate well away from houses, paths, water sources and places where children play. The faeces should then be buried immediately. Animal faeces also need to be kept away from the houses, paths and areas where children play.

Latrines and toilets need to be cleaned frequently. Latrines should be kept covered and toilets should be flushed. A clean latrine attracts fewer flies. People are more likely to use a clean latrine. Local governments and non-governmental organizations can often advise households and communities on the design, materials and construction for building low-cost sanitary latrines.

In urban areas, the government and communities should work together to determine how to install low-cost latrines or toilets, sanitation and drainage systems, safe drinking water and refuse collection.

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