Media centre

Contact information


Photo essays



Ten thousand people line up to use one toilet

© UNICEF/Burkina Faso/2010/Traoré M.
Persons with disabilities in Ouagadougou city and surrounding had their say on this great event

Ouagadougou, 20 March 2010 - In Burkina Faso around ten million people do not have access to adequate toilets. This has a detrimental impact on health, quality of water, education, the economy and seriously undermines the country’s ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To address this, the WASH coalition into which UNICEF is integrated, has initiated an advocacy campaign called, “The longest line to use a toilet”.

The campaign launch took place in Ouagadougou on 20 March 2010, in the context of commemorations for World Water Day which is celebrated on 22 March. The objective of the campaign is to show that problems with water and sanitation lie at the heart of the communities’ concerns.

A long line made up of people from different sectors of the population stretched for more than one kilometre in front of a public toilet which had been symbolically placed at the roundabout named United Nations roundabout. The image was striking. Approximately 10,000 people had been mobilised and were awaiting their turn to use the toilet, demonstrating the shortage of these crucial infrastructures.

Representatives for children, women, people from periurban areas and people with disabilities delivered their messages on the issue of access to water and sanitation and how they are affected. “We, the children are paying a heavy price for the lack of sanitation. Today, 4,000 of us will die from diarrhoea which is caused by an inadequate sanitation system and unsafe water,” stated Pélagie Kafando, representing the children.
For women, the lack of sanitation compromises their dignity because in both the villages and towns, many women are obliged to wait until nightfall to relieve themselves. People from the periurban areas declared that they are not taken into consideration during town development or planning for water and sanitation facilities. The situation for people with disabilities is of great concern as there are no toilets adapted for them.


© UNICEF/Burkina Faso/2010/Traoré M.
Be one with the slogan

The Deputy Prime Minister, who addressed the crowd on behalf of the Prime Minister, expressed his emotion upon seeing the long line and reaffirmed that access to adequate sanitation, is a basic right of every human being. He thanked the campaign organisers and made a commitment to act as their spokesperson to the government.

The end of the ceremony was marked by a song on sanitation and the signing of a petition by the authorities and representatives from various sectors of the population.
The petition, which collected more than 7,000 signatures, will be used as an advocacy tool during the first high level meeting on water and sanitation which takes place in Washington D.C. this April.



 Email this article

unite for children