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Dying for a dunny – Christians rush to join Canberra’s longest toilet queue

 Alana George of Melbourne tests out the giant toilet

ON TUESDAY 20 September, hundreds of Micah Challenge supporters from all over Australia will converge on the lawns of
Parliament House to join federal MPs in a queue for a giant toilet, and raise awareness for the 2.6 billion people around the world who still have no access to a toilet.

The concerned advocates will be in Canberra for Voices for Justice, the annual Micah Challenge four-­‐ day lobbying event
from 17-­‐20 September.

Voices for Justice brings together schools students and retirees, teachers and plumbers, aid workers and Church leaders,
who hold hundreds of private meetings with politicians in a bid to ensure that global poverty stays on the political agenda.

“The links between access to decent sanitation and global deaths are clear – particularly in children under five,” said Micah Challenge National Coordinator, John Beckett.

“Approximately 25% of the 8.1 million annual child deaths could be prevented by sanitation interventions.

That’s 2 million kids who could be saved.”

“Lack of access to a toilet is not only enormously dehumanising, it’s literally a matter of life and death.

No one in our world should be ‘dying for a dunny’,” he said.

“That’s why we are calling the government to increase their aid allocation for water and sanitation to $500 million by 2015.”

“Our Voices for Justice participants have each made a personal commitment to fight global poverty and to speak out on behalf of the world’s poorest people, as part of their Christian faith,” said Mr. Beckett.

“They are coming to Parliament House to urge our leaders to take action, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make their message is heard.”

At last year’s Voices for Justice event, 140 lobby meetings with politicians were held, and then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
called Micah Challenge campaigners “nagging prophets” for their persistent efforts in advocating for people in poverty.

Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, joined Mr. Rudd in making a public, bi-­‐partisan commitment to increasing Australia’s aid
budget to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015.

However Mr. Abbott’s commitment was called in to question earlier this year when he proposed aid cuts to fund the flood

“The current bi-­‐partisan commitment of 0.5% -­‐ or just fifty cents out of every one hundred dollars – is encouraging,” said
John Beckett.

“But we can’t afford to pull back our advocacy efforts.

We still need to hold the Government and the Opposition to account for their promise.”

The 0.5% commitment still falls short of the International Aid Target of 0.7% that is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Voices for Justice participants will lobby the Government to hold to the 0.5% commitment and to provide a timetable for
when and how the 0.7% target will be reached.

Australia’s aid contribution is currently at just 0.35% of GNI.

Micah Challenge is a global movement of aid and development agencies, churches, schools, groups and individual Christians who want to influence world leaders to meet their commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.

See www.micahchallenge.org.au.

Photo : Alana George of Melbourne tests out the giant toilet