Respiratory and diarrheal diseases remain the top two causes of infant and child mortality in Timor-Leste. These illnesses are strongly linked to inadequate sanitation and hygiene. Diarrhea alone is responsible for approximately 380 child deaths per year in Timor-Leste. Additionally Timor-Leste is estimated to suffer economic losses of $16.9 million a year due to poor sanitation and hygiene.
The major step to improving sanitation is increasing the use of hygienic toilets. Currently, about 40% of the rural population do not have access to improved sanitation (TLSLS 2007). The rate of improvement to use of hygienic toilets needs to accelerate rapidly in order to tackle the current rate of population growth and achieve the Timor-Leste’s Millennium Development Goal of 55% of rural areas having access to improved sanitation.
In recognition of the high health, social, economic, educational and environmental costs of limited use of hygienic toilets the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Infrastructure, in honor of World Toilet Day, is sponsoring the First National Toilet Awards on Nov 18th, 2010 to encourage development of appropriate, quality and affordable hygienic toilets for sale to the people of Timor-Leste, particularly in rural areas.
A recent study has found that 70 percent of recent sanitation coverage gains in Timor-Leste were the result of private investments by households themselves. Sustainability, possibly the most important factor in sanitation improvement, also improves dramatically when users decide to invest and build their own facilities making them more likely to use and maintain the facilities.
The First National Toilet Awards will be the centerpiece of a sanitation marketing expo on Nov 18 in Mercado Lama. Each mason, entrepreneur or business are encouraged to develop a hygienic toilet product for public presentation during the expo. Additionally, there will be a morning workshop to share experiences amongst participants including some presentations of recent sanitation marketing research and testimonials from a successful sanitation entrepreneur from East Java. Prizes will be awarded during the afternoon.
Prizes of $500 each will be awarded to the product that is the:
1. Best Value - Ida nebe’e valor bo’ot liu folin (O Melhor valor): Produtu ida nebe’e iha kualidade no valor nebe’e bo’ot liu nia folin atu sosa.
2. Best under $10 - Ida nebe’e valor bo’ot liu ho folin $10 ba kraik: Produtu nebe’e iha kualidade no valor bo’ot liu ho nia folin mak $10 ba kraik.
3. Most innovative - Ida nebe’e innovasaun bo’ot liu: Produtu nebe’e inclui innovasaun ka kriativa hodi hetan solusaun ba problema soe foer bo’ot arbiru.
4. Best solution for people living with disability –Solusaun ida nebe’e diak liu ba defisiente: Produtu sintina nian nebe'e diak liu nebe'e fo aseso ba ema defisiente.
For more information please contact:
Rita Maria Soares, Sanitation Officer, Ministry of Health
Joao de Piedade Braz, Head of Department of Sanitation, DNSASJesse Shapiro, Sanitation Advisor BESIK, 7326
 Calculation based on 46,037 live births per year (MoH projection, 2009); Under five mortality rate of 64 per 1,000 live births (preliminary Timor-Leste DHS09 data); and 13 percent of under-five deaths being caused by diarrhoea in Timor-Leste (WHO global health indicators, 2010).
 World Bank (2009) Timor-Leste: Country Environmental Analysis Sustainable Development Department, East Asia & Pacific Region, World Bank
 BESIK Program (2010), Sanitation in Rural Areas (draft report 2010)