Rarua’s family uses the nearby river, surrounded by mangrove swamps, as a toilet because the high water tables mean digging pit latrines is impossible. At night, he is afraid of ghosts and snakes.
“When I need to poo at night, I feel scared. If I think I can do it quickly I go by myself, but otherwise I call my brother or sister to go with me. Sometimes I get tummy aches and diarrhoea. When I get diarrhoea I can’t get to the river so I have to rush to the back of the house and then cover it up with soil.
“When I get tummy aches and diarrhoea, I don’t go to class. I wait until it’s over before going back to school. I don’t feel good about missing lessons. I love going to school every day. I want to get better quickly so I can return to school.”
Papua New Guinea is the world’s most linguistically diverse country, with more than 700 native languages spoken. This, combined with the fact that 80% of people live in often remote rural areas, makes progress on health and education particularly challenging.
More than eight in ten people in Papua New Guinea lack a decent toilet and progress towards universal household sanitation is decreasing. Some 220 children die each year from water and sanitation-related diarrhoea, and polio has recently returned to the island after being eradicated in 2000.