When a Toilet Is Much More than Just a Toilet – World Day


Human Wrongs Watch

What is World Toilet Day all About?

Two young women stand next to toilet facilities.Payal (left) and Nisha (right) are happy to have a toilet in their school in Kakrana village. When schools have clean water, toilets and soap for handwashing, children have a healthy learning environment. © UNICEF/UN0271817/Hajra

19 November 2019 (United Nations)* — Toilets save lives, because human waste spreads killer diseases. World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

World Toilet Day is celebrated on 19th November every year. It’s all about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which promises sanitation for all by 2030.

World Toilet Day 2019 is drawing attention to those people being left behind without sanitation.

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2019 Theme: Leaving No One Behind

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right. And yet, today, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation. How can anyone lift themselves out of poverty without sanitation? We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind.

What is ‘Safely Managed Sanitation’?

When someone has a ‘safely managed sanitation service’, it means they use hygienic toilet facilities that are not shared with other households and where excreta are either separated from human contact and safely disposed of in situ or transported and treated off-site, thereby protecting people and the environment from disease agents. Examples include flush/pour flush toilets connected to piped sewer systems; septic tanks or latrine pits; ventilated improved pit latrines; composting toilets; or pit latrines with slab covers.

Key facts

  • 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation – more than half the global population.

  • 673 million people still practise open defecation worldwide.

  • Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 432,000 diarrheal deaths every year and is a major factor in diseases such as intestinal worms, trachoma and schistosomiasis.

  • 297,000 children under five are estimated to die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene.

  • Children under the age of five living in countries affected by protracted conflict are, on average, nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence.

  • Loss of productivity to water- and sanitation-related diseases costs many countries up to 5% of GDP.

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