- Did you know that 4.5 billion people live without a safe toilet?
- Or that 62.5% of people around the world don’t have access to safe sanitation?
- Did you know that 1.8 billion people use a drinking water source that could be contaminated with faeces?
- Or that 892 million people practice open defecation?
(Source: World Health Organisation)
World Toilet Day takes place on 19 November each year to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners, the annual event shines the light on the fact that for billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective. This year’s theme is ‘When Nature Calls’ and highlights the fact that in many places of the world we are turning our environment into an open sewer.
This year, World Toilet Day is discussing ways we can build toilets and sanitation systems that work in harmony with our environment. Known as nature-based solutions (NBS), these systems can be the answer to the sanitation and water crisis by harnessing the power of ecosystems. For example, composting latrines that capture and treat human waste on site, producing a free supply of fertiliser to help grow crops. Or human-made wetlands and reed-beds that filter waste water before it is released back into water courses. There is much innovative work being done, but there is still a staggeringly long way to go before the water and sanitation crisis is over.
For us in the UK, the thought of not having access to a safe and clean toilet may make us baulk, but there is an increasing epidemic on our own shores when it comes to the closure of public conveniences. The CIPHE has been raising this issue on the run up to World Toilet Day with its ‘Love Your Local Lav’ campaign.
Public toilets have been disappearing from our high streets and tourist attractions for decades. With council budgets being cut, these facilities can be amongst the first things to go. Though it may seem like a first world problem compared to those with no safe sanitation systems, a lack of facilities has a very detrimental impact on vast swathes of our society; women, those with babies and young children, the elderly, the disabled and those with health problems. Public toilets provide dignity, independence and safety, and they also protect public health.
Vital to local economies, public toilets allow people access to our high streets and tourist attractions, who may otherwise be unable to visit without adequate facilities. For many, access to clean and well-maintained public lavatories makes the difference between being isolated indoors, to being able to leave the house to complete basic everyday tasks. Public toilets are not only a lifeline to many in our communities, but they fulfil a basic human need.
So this World Toilet Day, why not make a difference to the facilities in your local area and get involved in our Love Your Local Lav Campaign.
To find out more about World Toilet Day visit http://www.worldtoiletday.info