Do you care about toilets? Well, guess what? Today, we celebrate them. On 19th November 2001, Jack Sim, a philanthropist from Singapore, invented the World Toilet Organization, declaring the day World Toilet Day. Though toilets are only the first stage of sanitation, the World Toilet Organization chose “World Toilet Day” rather than “World Sanitation Day” to enable ease of public messaging. November 19 was thus declared World Toilet Day by the United Nations General Assembly and is observed each year by a partnership between UN-Water and governments across the world.
“Who cares about toilets?” you might ask. Well, 3.6 billion people do. Do you know why? Because they don’t have one! According to the latest JMP (Joint Monitoring Programme) report by WHO/UNICEF, the progress on sanitation and hygiene is significantly off track. Around 74% of the global population has access to basic sanitation. However, 2 billion people in the world still lack access to sanitation facilities such as toilets, with 63 million having no alternative but to defecate in the open. For the 3.6 billion people who currently lack safely managed sanitation, without toilets, a sustainable future is beyond reach. All governments around the world have an obligation to work four times faster to ensure toilets for all by the year 2030.
WHO, a member of UN-Water and the task force in charge of organizing World Toilet Day, in collaboration with UNICEF, call on governments and their partners to immediately transform sanitation for better environments, health, economies, and societies in the report on State of the world’s sanitation. The report highlights ways forward under the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework drawing on the latest evidence, data, and case studies. Today, toilets are the one invention we keep hidden behind closed doors but are critically important. So if you’d like an “ode to the commode”, keep reading.
The Theme of World Toilet Day 2021
Each year, World Toilet Day observed on 19th November acknowledges the role of hygiene and sanitation in driving improvements in the public health sector, education, gender equality, environmental protection, and economic development. This year’s World Toilet Day theme is ‘Valuing Toilets’. It focuses on the fact that in many parts of the world, toilets and their supporting sanitation systems are poorly managed, underfunded, or neglected, hence leading to dire consequences for health, the environment, and economics, specifically in the most marginalized communities.
So you care about toilets?
Well, you should. We all should. Without toilets, life is dirty, undignified, and dangerous since public health depends on them. How? When some community members do not have safe toilets, the health of everyone in the community is threatened. Poor sanitation through the practice of open defecation contaminates drinking-water sources, beaches, rivers, and food crops, therefore spreading deadly contagious diseases among the wider population. If you are lucky enough to have a toilet, you should thank it for;
- Taking away our human waste.
- Keeping our waste out of the water and food we use.
- Helping maintain our human dignity.
- Protecting us from contagious killer diseases.
- Helping reduce malnutrition.
- Helping keep children in school.
- Keeping adolescent girls in school during
- Maintaining our decency at places of work and in public.
- Creating job opportunities since sanitation systems need people to operate them 24/7, 365 days.
We should value our toilets by always keeping them clean.
The Significance of World Toilet Day
- World Toilet Day raises awareness – The observance raises awareness of the 3.6 billion people living with a lack of safely managed sanitation. It also sheds light on a subject that people often deem inappropriate. It’s time to break the taboo around talking about toilets by conversing about sanitation issues in the world.
- It commemorates a modern invention – Toilets have surely changed the way we live. Thanks to ongoing innovations and current advancements to plumbing, we can live a dignified life without wasting billions of water gallons and dollars every year.
- It’s urgent – According to UN statistics, diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation kills 315,000 children each year. What’s more, poor hygiene practices and lack of sanitation lead to workplace productivity decline in several countries.
This year’s World Toilet Day aims at taking action to address the global sanitation crisis and achieve SDG 6: Water and sanitation for all by 2030. Sanitation is a human right and as such, governments must listen to the people living without access to toilets and act to allocate funding to include them in decision-making processes.
World Toilet Day is all about celebrating everything toilets do for us – from taking away our waste to protecting our health, dignity, and safety. And we’re sure there’s a joke about toilets providing a perfect place for reading. So, if you’re lucky enough to have said throne, say thanks and give it some love! Happy World Toilet Day to you and yours!