Today is World Toilet Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of safe and accessible toilets globally:
South Sudan, where 93% of the population lacks access to an adequate toilet, has fewer safe and hygienic latrines per person than any other country in the world, according to a study highlighting the world's failure to address the global sanitation crisis.
In a report released on world toilet day, WaterAid ranked countries according to how difficult it was to find toilets meeting basic hygiene standards. Among developed countries, Russia had the worst sanitation record, with more than a quarter of its population lacking access to safe, private toilets.
The UN defines an improved toilet or latrine as a facility that hygienically separates human waste from human contact; this could be through a mechanical or manual flush that sends the waste matter to a piped sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine. Composting toilets also qualify as improved toilets.Toilets are a major feminist issue: "A survey commissioned by WaterAid and released for World Toilet Day has shown that of women surveyed in five slums in Lagos, Nigeria, one in five had first or second hand experience of verbal harassment and intimidation, or had been threatened or physically assaulted in the last year when going to the toilet. ...Other studies from Uganda, Kenya, India, and the Solomon Islands show that such experiences of fear, indignity, and violence are commonplace wherever women lack access to safe and adequate sanitation. ...Lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods. Women and girls living in developing countries without toilet facilities spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go in the open."
...Poor access to safe toilets can lead to faecal matter contaminating water and food, raising the risk that diseases such as diarrhoea – the second leading cause of death in children under five – could spread through vulnerable populations.
WaterAid's senior policy analyst on sanitation, Andrés Hueso, said countries in conflict, such as South Sudan and Niger, often had the poorest access to adequate toilets. "When countries go through conflict or major instability, often the priorities shift to basic survival aspects, which ignore proper sanitation," he explained. "Also institutions at this time are very weak, and donors tend not to fund these countries because they see an increased risk."
Access to a toilet and the ability to safely use it has to be one of the easiest things for those of us with both to take for granted. Especially those of us who have always had both.
If you are able and want to make a donation to an organization addressing this need, I recommend Water.org and WaterAid.
If you unable to make a donation, there are plenty of other ways to give a shit. (I know. I'll show myself out!) Talk to people and/or do awareness raising on social media about World Toilet Day and the need for safe and accessible toilets.
Please feel welcome and encouraged to suggest in comment other ways to help on this day and every day.