Toilets are among the last things we pay attention to in our homes, taking them somewhat for granted. But, proper toilet sanitation is a significant factor that directly affects not only us but the public health. And that's why we observe World Toilet Day every November 19 to spread awareness of this vital cause.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aim to ensure all clean water and sanitation access by 2030. This campaign urges governments to implement sanitation policies and initiatives to address and tackle the global sanitation crisis.
By celebrating World Toilet Day, we work towards clean toilets for all, ensuring a healthier future.
Featured in: November - Awareness Months, Days & Observances
Are you aware that over 1.7 billion individuals worldwide lack access to essential sanitation systems like private toilets or latrines? Furthermore, 3.6 billion people have poor-quality bathrooms and approximately 494 million still use open defecation. This includes defecating in street gutters, behind bushes, or into open bodies of water.
This annual observance greatly matters because the problem of poor toilet sanitation can lead to the spreading of waterborne diseases, including cholera, typhoid, and diarrhea. In fact, according to the WHO, inadequate sanitation and unsafe water are responsible for the deaths of over 297,000 children under five years old each year.
Furthermore, poor toilet sanitation affects women, exposing them to safety risks, lack of privacy, and educational barriers. According to a report, women and girls spend 97 billion hours each year to find a safe toilet1, especially during the menstrual period. This leads to absenteeism from school and work, sexual assaults, harassment, shame, and diseases.
Furthermore, poor-quality toilets also pollute the environment, especially our water resources. Human waste pollution will spread into rivers, lakes, soil, and groundwater, which supports drinking water supplies.
Jack Sim, the Singaporean business visionary affectionately known as "Mr. Toilet," launched World Toilet Day. Why? Because he understood that adequate sanitation – specifically toilets – is something billions of people go without.
After establishing the World Toilet Organization (WTO), he started the first official World Toilet Day on the 19th of November, 2001. Fast forward several years, this initially modest initiative started making serious waves. In fact, it became an official annual United Nations Observance by 20132.
Every year, the observation has different themes, highlighting the importance of a proper sanitation system for public health and human dignity.
The World Toilet Day 2022 theme ‘'Making the invisible visible' focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater. It highlights a glaring reality: our inadequate sanitation systems funnel human waste to nature, polluting underground water resources.
Previously, the theme for World Toilet Day 2021 was "Valuing Toilets," while in 2020, it was "Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change."
Sanitation is finally getting the global attention it deserves! From the corridors of the United Nations to rural communities in India, change is brewing.
The "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan," or Clean India Mission, was an initiative of the Indian Government in 2014. It's not just for promoting sustainable and safely managed sanitation; it's a sanitation revolution aiming to make India Open Defecation Free. Following the mission, millions of toilets are distributed to rural areas.
There are also nonprofits like WaterAid that are taking action at the grassroots level. Their WASH programs focus on more than just using water resources to build toilets; they are creating a safe sanitation culture in countries where it's been a long-standing issue.
From global efforts to local creativity, the goal remains simple—improving sanitation for all, as everyone deserves the dignity of a decent toilet.
On World Toilet Day, you can make a difference in improving sanitation in several ways.
One option is volunteering with a nonprofit organization that works on sanitation projects. Your time and effort can significantly impact raising awareness and implementing initiatives that benefit needy communities.
Another critical step is to break the taboo around discussing sanitation. So discuss World Toilet Day with your friends, family, and neighbors to raise awareness.
Finally, empower the cause by posting online with the hashtag #WorldToiletDay.
World Toilet Day is a vital call to action, bringing attention to the global sanitation crisis that often goes unnoticed. Billions lack access to sanitation facilities, a fundamental human right. Let's take action by lending our voices, sharing the message on social media, donating to reputable organizations, or supporting local initiatives. Every effort matters; together, we can create a cleaner, healthier world—one toilet at a time.
World Toilet Day, observed each 19th of November, is about raising awareness of the critical global necessity for clean and safe toilets.
It's crucial because it highlights the health and socio-economic problems due to the lack of proper sanitation.
The main roadblocks are insufficient infrastructure and funding, cultural hindrances, and a lack of sanitation awareness.
You can champion the cause by supporting organizations, advocating for better sanitation policies, and spreading awareness online.
WaterAid. (2014). We Can't Wait: A report on sanitation and hygiene for women and girls.
General Assembly resolution 67/291, Sanitation for All, A/RES/67/291 (24 July 2013), available from http://undocs.org/A/RES/67/291.
Chinny Verana is a degree-qualified marine biologist and researcher passionate about nature and conservation. Her expertise allows her to deeply understand the intricate relationships between marine life and their habitats.
Her unwavering love for the environment fuels her mission to create valuable content for TRVST, ensuring that readers are enlightened about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and conservation efforts.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.