A toilet in each home after Typhoon Odette
UNICEF and partners continue to help children and families affected by Typhoon Odette
It’s 1:00 in the morning. Fourteen year old Junichelle Sumalinog is awakened by a cold, wet feeling creeping up under her back and a foul stench enveloping the room.
The toilets have overflowed again.
With a sigh, Junichelle and her six siblings get off the floor and sleep sitting up for the rest of the night.
This is what Junichelle had to face for months in the high school her family evacuated to after Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) destroyed their seaside home in Brgy. San Juan, Surigao City back in December 2021.
Sharing the room with one other family, Junichelle says they were very grateful to have a safe haven. However, “after a while, the toilets started clogging up. Every time it rained, they overflowed and flooded our room.”
“That really disrupted our lives since we slept, ate, and studied on the floor. I couldn’t even do my homework,” states Junichelle. “All my modules were soaked through.”
The unsanitary conditions even sent one of Junichelle’s siblings to the hospital after a fit of diarrhea and vomiting.
The Sumalinogs finally had a private space to call their own when they were chosen as one of 123 families relocated from danger zones to Transitional Shelters in Brgy. Cagniog. Hygiene challenges, however, continued.
“There was only one latrine in the community,” Junichelle’s mother Maria Rochelle Picate says about the early days. “There were no street lights, so we’d all have to wake up in the middle of the night and walk together in pitch darkness so we could be safe going to the toilet.”
Junichelle adds, “all the other families were there as well, so we would wait two hours in line before we could use the bathroom.”
As part of Typhoon Odette Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) response, UNICEF and Action Against Hunger installed latrines in each home so that residents have access to their own toilet.
For Junichelle, it’s easier to be clean and healthy with their own household toilet. “We have it right here so we can go any time - I don’t have to be afraid to go use the comfort room in the middle of the night anymore.”
Maria, who is pregnant with her eighth child, adds “getting on in my pregnancy means it’s not as easy for me to make those early morning treks to the community latrine. Having a comfort room at home is a great relief.”
UNICEF also provided the families with training on proper handwashing and sanitation practices – something Maria was truly grateful for. “I can’t just take antibiotics while I’m pregnant, so It’s important that I’m very hygienic so that I don’t get an infection in the first place.”
WASH interventions are essential in emergency contexts where children might already be malnourished or immunocompromised, and therefore more susceptible to infectious diseases. #