World Toilet Day: Nov. 19

Tomorrow is World Toilet Day, and this year's theme is “Talk Sh*t for a Week.” Several InterAction members and partners have spent all week sharing stories using the Twitter hashtag #WorldToiletDay. Some incredible statistics have been published, the most startling from the World Toilet Organization: “At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.” Others include:

  • More people in the world own a cell phone than have access to a safe toilet.
  • 2.6 billion people don’t have a safe and affordable toilet; 1.1 billion people don’t have access to any kind of toilet at all.
  • Because of this, 80 percent of human waste goes directly into rivers and streams, which spreads disease.
  • 80 percent of diarrhea cases worldwide are caused by poor or nonexistent sanitation, and 90 percent of the deaths of children under the age of 5 from diarrhea occur in developing countries.
  • 30 percent of water in the developing world is used to flush toilets and send the waste to sewers.

Another consequence of areas without toilets is that women and girls are at higher risk for rapes and other attacks. The website toiletday.org shared stories of families whose lives were directly improved by the installation of a toilet, including a family of women who now feel much more secure.

Last year on World Toilet Day, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation opened a project to develop a more sustainable and inexpensive toilet to bring safe sanitation to the world’s poorest communities.

For more information, see the websites for the World Toilet Organizationtoiletday.org, and the Gates Foundation infographic.