Across the world, countries will observe World Toilet Day on 19 November. Because the stark reality is that one in every three people (predominantly people living in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia) do not have access to a toilet and proper sanitation systems. To put this in perspective: the amount of people without proper sanitation is as high as half the developing world’s population.
Poor hygiene and the lack of sanitation is truly a silent killer. Up to 6.3% of all deaths can be prevented by proper hygiene and sanitation. And in terms of diarrhea morbidity, proper sanitation can eliminate up to 37.5% of diarrhea deaths. This is exactly the aim of World Toilet Day: to bring awareness to the severe threats of not having access to proper sanitation, and how this is impacting on the world population.
As the global struggle for proper sanitation continues, UNICEF announced some less positive news: the world is not on track in meeting the Millenium Development Goal for sanitation. Besides the MDG target for sanitation, another 1.8 billion people (about 25% of the world population) would have been left without proper sanitation. And now, with the news that the world is not on track in meeting its sanitation target, failing to meet the MDG target means that as much as another half a billion people will be failed in the hope of proper sanitation.
Proper sanitation is a social, economic and environmental issue. Sanitation is a central key to disease prevention, while it can reduce environmental pollution in some ways. In economic terms, poor or lacking sanitation often goes alongside poor economic conditions, informal settlements and low-income levels. Yet, the complexity of the apparent solutions remains an obstacle for much of the developing world.
As the world continues to face the sanitation crisis, this year’s World Toilet Day will aim to create opportunities and hope for those in need of proper sanitation – and the myriad of direct improvements sanitation can bring to their livelihoods and environments.
Photo credits: some rights reserved by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection via flickr [Creative Commons]