We all poo! Yup. It may sound funny to say out loud and even read back, but we all do it. The gorgeous Victoria’s Secret models are not exempt from this either, nor are any of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive – we’re talking to you, George Clooney! This is a reality and though it is one of the most taboo topics of discussion, it is also one of the most important ones to have in order to raise a global awareness.
No invention has saved more lives than the toilet. Since its creation, the toilet has brought great benefits to better sanitation, health and hygiene but every day, 2.6 billion suffer from improper access to clean sanitation. That means, a third of the world’s population do not have somewhere safe, private and hygienic to go to the toilet. Can you imagine going to the toilet in a muddy ditch? Or defecating in rivers, lakes, fields or railway tracks? That is the reality for many around the world and fact is, more people today have a cell phone than a toilet. If that isn’t reason enough to bring massive awareness to such an issue what is?
The World Toilet Organization (WTO), a Singapore non-profit that promotes health and sanitation founded in 2001 by Jack Sim has declared November 19th, World Toilet Day. The WTO’s aim is to be a global network and service platform where all toilet and sanitation organizations can learn from one another and pull forth for media and global support while influencing governments to promote dependable sanitation and public health policies.
Since 2005, the WTO runs a World Toilet College, which gives training in essential sanitation issues needed to establish an independent world body, making certain that the best practices and standards in toilet design, cleanliness and sanitation technologies are adopted through education and preparation. Their college is the first and only training college of its kind and focuses much of the needs on rural and urban sanitation. Every year, a World Toilet Summit is held, breaking the taboo of toilet discussion.
World Toilet Day is celebrated in over 19 countries with over 51 events being hosted by various water and sanitation advocates. The day also helps to bring to the forefront not just the health but the emotional and psychological consequences the poor endure as a result of inadequate sanitation which is the leading cause of infection.
Toilets not only bring privacy, safety and dignity but for women and young girls, it means they don’t need to suffer embarrassment from relieving themselves or cleaning up when menstruation begins and continue their education, becoming an asset to their community. With a toilet at their convenience, they don’t have to wait until darkness, risking rape or encounters with wild animals and for families, it would mean they don’t have to endure and go through pointless diseases that can be preventable.
Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time. It basically boils down to water. Water plays a big part with the sanitation crisis around the world. Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death with 88% of diarrheal deaths due to the need for sanitary facilities. Sadly, most locations are surrounded by unsafe drinking water and the unavailability of water for hygiene. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation which means, that’s about 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
In a recent article written by Matt Damon and Gary White of Water.org for The Huffington Post, the co-founders, who continue to rally around the goal of ensuring safe water and sanitation, explained that even today with solutions being made available and known, lack of access to safe water and sanitation continues to claim more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
“On average, those living in slums pay 7-15 times more per litre of water than owners of nearby five-star hotels. This is because subsidies are largely delivered through unrealistically low water tariffs -- if you are too poor to afford a water connection, you can't capture the subsidy. Similarly, if you are a poor day labourer in Port-au-Prince and you want a drink of safe water to quench your thirst, you will pay 250 times more than the cost of New York City tap water. Those who lack cash pay with their time -- hours each day spent scavenging for water from public taps that frequently run dry, rivers, or even drainage ditches. There are nearly a billion people in this trap of water insecurity and about 2.5 billion lack a sanitary toilet.”
As part of World Toilet Day this week, Water.org’s co-founder, Matt Damon has teamed up with WorldToilet.org to basically, "talk sh*t" and bring awareness to such a cause while acknowledging the life-saving powers of a toilet. Starting this past Monday, individuals were able to authorize ToiletDay.org to post a daily status update from either their Facebook or Twitter account until World Toilet Day this Saturday, November 19th.
The "Talk Sh*t All Week" campaign is creatively using social media to spark conversation about global sanitation issues while drawing attention to a cause with clearly, a bit of humour. The campaign is a partnership between Water.org, the Gates Foundation, Acumen, ONE, WorldToilet.org, Change.org and Water for People.
It’s been estimated that every dollar spent on water and sanitation generates returns of $8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health care costs. With water being the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation and our well-being, it is no surprise what a difference it makes for us when it’s clean. However, in recent years it has become one of our natural resources that have suffered heavily from disregard.
Like the water crisis, this is another step to a massive issue that needs to be taken door-to-door. If left unresolved, life without a toilet not only will cause shame and missed opportunities but assist disease and death. If you would like to take part and raise a stink about the lack of sanitation for billions around the world, donate your voice through Twitter or Facebook today at ToiletDay.org!
Everyone deserves to take a safe poop so let’s cut the crap and get down to business. Together, we can end this crisis in our lifetime!
Also, be sure to pick up a limited edition designed Water.org CamelBak Groove water bottle at the official, Water.org site. Not only are the bottles environmentally friendly, but 100% of the profits go directly to support nearly a billion people in the world who lack clean water. Do your part and see how you can help!
Be sure to follow World Toilet on Twitter for updates and further information on how you can help!
- World Water Day 2011
- World Water Day Profile: Co-Founder, Matt Damon of Water.org
- World Water Day Profile: Co-Founder, Gary White of Water.org