different toilets picture


World Toilet Day 2013


To put the spotlight on sanitation, the United Nations General Assembly declared this year would kick off the inaugural World Toilet Day on November 19.

The reasons are very clear. Toilets, and the access to toilets and established sanitation standards, are actually a very, very important issue in much of the developing world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2010 that 2.5 billion people worldwide, that is, forty percent of the world’s population didn’t have access to a toilet, practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities. The consequences can be devastating for human health as well as the environment.

The lack of toilets can lead to many serious sanitation problems; exposed fecal matter can lead to any number of a long list of diseases and can cause infection, lead to dysentery and provide a breeding ground for many parasites. Even in urban areas, where household and communal toilets are more prevalent, 2.1 billion people use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge raw sewage into open drains or surface waters.

But without running water, there is no way to have a proper toilet. However, hand dug latrines and composting latrines can eliminate some of the problems associated with lack of toilets. With no toilets available people have no choice but to defecate in the open More than reducing levels of infection and disease, however, the sanitary importance of toilets offers an increased sense of dignity. The people living without toilet access are not all living in rural areas. Many live in city slums and must go about their business without the luxury of privacy.

In many countries girls stay home during menstruation days because of the absence of a safe place to change and clean themselves and many drop out altogether. The availability of toilets is an indicator to increased school attendance of these teenage girls. The non-governmental organizations usually work towards the provision of clean water and sanitation in the developing world. Increased access to toilets has been one of their goals for years.

Due to the unglamorous nature of the subject matter, toilets tend to take the back seat when it comes to awareness and fundraising. Goverments in the developing world, multinational companies, international organizations, schools and other stakeholders are encouraged to “redouble their efforts, through scaled-up ground-level actions ... to promote greater public awareness of the serious developmental, health and social problems caused by the lack of adequate sanitation.

south A ladyCape Town Councillor June Frans surveys an open-air toilet in Khayelitsha   open toiletsOn 29 April 2011,High Court Judge Nathan Erasmus found that the City of Cape Town acted unlawfully in providing unenclosed toilets to the residents of Makhaza informal settlement in Cape Town.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene March-April 2017 Vol.12 No.2