World Toilet Day: Ensuring Sanitation for All

November 15, 2016
Photo Credit: David Snyder

World Toilet Day, on November 19th, is a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis, an issue that is often overlooked, ignored or seen as “taboo.” This year’s theme is “Toilets and Jobs,” highlighting the role of how a lack of sanitation affects people’s livelihoods. Indeed, toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy, as well as improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity, particularly women’s and girls’.

Today, 2.4 billion people are living without a toilet and one in ten people has no choice but to defecate in the open.  As a direct consequence, 1.6 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases because of a lack of basic sanitation and access to safe drinking water; 90% of these are children under 5, mostly in developing countries. A lack of access to sanitation is also a matter of safety and human dignity.

And while sanitation is now a global priority—the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) include a target to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to a toilet by 2030—the global community has fallen short over the last several decades to stop open defecation and improve sanitation. Despite the human right to clean water and sanitation, severe inequalities in access to toilets threaten the survival, health, dignity, and safety of vulnerable populations.

That’s why The Hunger Project works to empower rural communities to ensure increased access to clean water and improved sanitation, the development of new water sources, and the implementation of water conservation techniques.

In Africa, for example, nearly 2,900 latrines were constructed, installed, or rehabilitated in 2015. And in India—where open defecation is the most ubiquitous in the world—Elected Women Representatives go from community to community to help equip women and girls with knowledge and information about proper sanitation and hygiene. The Hunger Project has assembled a series of cases studies about these elected women leaders in a booklet on Water and Sanitation. In Bangladesh, 87 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) campaigns were conducted in 2015, educating communities about the importance of sanitation.

In Mexico, The Hunger Project has begun installing compositing “eco-toilets,” training community members on how to build the bathrooms, use and maintain them. This community-led approach has resulted in the total appropriation of the process and technique, in personal empowerment and developing leadership skills. And in the remote community of Catishtic, Chiapas, a group of young women in their 20’s led the construction of the first bathroom in their community.

In addition, The Hunger Project works to access timely and accurate data for interventions in sanitation, and to make that data accessible and transparent to community members. This makes the data ‘actionable’ and usable for communities and state authorities. WASH data is shared through participatory tools, including community Transparency Boards, which enable community members to visualize progress in areas such as improved sanitation. Disseminating and sharing data in a timely and accurate way enables communities to bridge valuable relationships with local governments and NGOs working in sanitation.

Sanitation is an essential human right. Today, we encourage you to take action to promote the need for improved sanitation for everyone, everywhere.

What you can do:

  • Share our social media posts on #WorldToiletDay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Invest in our work to empower people to increase their access to clean water and improve their sanitation and hygiene

Learn more:

Our Issues: Water and Sanitation
Leadership in Action: Water and Sanitation Booklet