Around the world, billions of people live without ‘safely managed sanitation‘, while millions still practice open defecation. The unhygienic practices have led to many suffering from avoidable diseases and even deaths. In order to bring about awareness and to tackle the global sanitation crisis, World Toilet Day (WTD) was established.

According to the United Nations, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation – more than half the global population, while 673 million people still practice 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.

WHAT WORLD TOILET DAY IS ALL ABOUT

World Toilet Day (WTD), which was established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001, is now being observed on November 19 of each year after the UN General Assembly declared it as an official UN day in 2013. It is 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.

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.

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

IMPORTANCE OF TOILETS:

Toilets save lives because human waste spreads killer diseases. When people have access to safe functioning toilets, there is a positive impact on public health, human dignity, and personal safety, especially for women. If there is no proper sanitation system in place, by which the excreta can be treated safely, it can lead to the spread of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery and schistosomiasis.

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.

2019 THEME: LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND

The official convener of World Toilet Day is UN-Water which maintains the official World Toilet Day website and chooses a special theme for each year. This year the theme is ‘Leaving no one behind’, which is about drawing attention to those people being left behind without sanitation.

A statement on the website of UN-Water reads: “A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker. We must expand access to toilets and leave no one behind. Because whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right.”