Can you imagine not having a toilet? Here in the UK and other Western countries it’s a given that we all have at least one, but probably more, toilets in our homes. It’s considered hygienic and gives us privacy when we need to use the facilities.
Unbelievably there are still 2.5 billion people in the world that don’t share this privilege. They either have poor sanitation or at least half of them are forced to urinate and defecate wherever they can, usually in fields, ditches or on railway tracks.
In the year 2000, world leaders declared that it was a human right to have access to a basic toilet.
They set 2015 as the year when this would be achieved. Sadly this target is unlikely to be met and many (half a billion) will have to wait a further decade before they have these facilities.
Hygiene and health
The lack of sanitation occurs mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where one in three do not have safe, clean and private facilities. This is definitely disastrous for children as illness can be the direct result of poor sanitation. Diseases affecting the stomach and intestines, (Diarrhoea in particular), is the second most common cause of death in developing countries. It kills more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined. This means 1 death occurs every 20 seconds due to this problem.
A sign of economic growth
When hygiene and sanitary conditions improved in Western countries, economic growth also improved. So toilets became a sign of better health, higher income, increased education, higher social status and improved labour productivity.
A toilet symbolises a cleaner living environment – something we all want for sure.
The World Toilet Organisation works hard to make everyone aware of this fact and of the dangers of poor sanitation. Partners include Domestos (Unilever) which has 90 years of experience making toilets clean, Water Aid, The World Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
World Toilet Day
According to the World Toilet Organisation, World Toilet Day is ‘an important platform to demand action from governments and to reach out to wider audiences by showing that toilets can be fun and sexy as well as vital to life.’
But they are quick to point out that it is a serious cause too. So every November 19th is World Toilet Day when they raise awareness of this world-wide problem.
So next time you enjoy the privacy of one the toilets in your home don’t forget to spare a thought for those much less fortunate and think about the ways you could help raise awareness.
Join in the conversation by tweeting using #WeCantWait.