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The most unlikely twinning ever... Stormont toilets are linked up with Uganda loos

By Noel McAdam

Published 22/11/2016

Toilet campaign: Claire Hanna
Toilet campaign: Claire Hanna

Assembly members are 'spending a penny' in a bid to highlight deprivation overseas.

A toilet-twinning initiative has been launched at Stormont - linking the Assembly's loos with Uganda's.

In the past, towns and even entire council areas in Northern Ireland have been twinned with others across the world.

But the latest example of twinning has taken an unusual twist.

Stormont's all-party group on international development which was behind the toilet-twinning scheme revealed it is called the 'spend a penny' project.

Committee chair Claire Hanna explained: "Stormont's toilet facilities will be twinned with two newly-built latrines in Uganda funded by MLAs.

"We've been working with the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies on this 'spend a penny' project.

"In Northern Ireland we generally take the availability of toilets for granted, but in many parts of the world a lack of adequate water and sanitation leads to disease and can prevent girls, in particular, from accessing education.

"By twinning these toilets we hope to remind MLAs, staff and visitors to the building of this need around the world."

David Thomas, chair of the Coalition, said: "Our members work in some of the poorest communities in the world providing, among other things, clean drinking water, toilets and training in hygiene and disease prevention.

"It is great that this work is being recognised by our local politicians, who have donated the cost of building two latrines in Uganda".

Details were unveiled on what has been designated World Toilet Day - a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

It is estimated that 2.4 billion people are struggling to stay well, keep their children alive and work their way to a better future - all for the want of a toilet.

The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030. This makes sanitation a global development priority.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners.

The spread of many diseases and chronic malnutrition in children - which can be connected to a condition called environmental enteropathy - is directly related to exposure to human faeces.

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