World Toilet Day
19 November, 2015
Today is World Toilet Day which aims to draw the world’s attention to the crucial nature of adequate sanitation which affects health, education, gender equality, nutrition, the environment and the economy.
Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. The access to water part has been well-documented, with action taken to install wells and water supplies in many areas of need across the world. The second and less glamorous part, of access to sanitation, and more specifically toilets, has been less so.
This is despite the fact that a lack of clean and safe toilets can have devastating impacts.
Indeed as former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan said, “No other issue suffers such disparity between its human importance and its political priority.”
The more obvious dangers are health-related; as inadequate sanitation can result in polluted water supplies and deadly diseases. Children are most at risk; around 315,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children, every day.
However there are also a number of less obvious consequences that inadequate sanitation can bring. For schoolgirls, a lack of toilets often means missing lessons or pulling out of school altogether. UNICEF reports that menstruating girls around the world miss up to 20 percent of their classes if their schools have no toilets. Indeed they may drop out altogether, which can often mean early marriage and children before their bodies are fully developed.
Thus not only are toilets crucial to achieve Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals, but they are also vital to achieve Goal 3: Wellbeing for all at all ages, Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education and Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower woman and girls.
Wilton Park is continuing to build on its work on development issues, taking on a number of topics including the role of faith in implementing the SDGs, girls’ secondary education and urbanisation in development. World Toilet Day reminds us that within these conversations, we must address the taboo of toilets, and shine a light on sanitation issues for people, planet and prosperity.
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