World Toilet Day—organized by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, in conjunction with the World Toilet Organization—aims to create awareness of the “global sanitation challenge” faced all around the globe. People might be tempted to make fun of the name but it is no joke. The World Toilet Day calls attention to the fact that more than 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet, which causes water pollution, disease and death, according to ToiletDay.org’s Toilet Day campaign.
“Access to sanitation facilities around the world, more than any other service, provides a window into the vast difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,” Catarina de Albuquerque of the United Nations said in a press release. As a comparison, more people own cell phones than toilets. “Access to sanitation currently ranks as the most-off track of the Millennium Goals, and one that will obviously not be met by 2015.”
The World Toilet Day organizers are quoted by Forbes as saying that 1.1 billion people around the world defecate without proper facilities.
The majority of them are living in rural areas. These people have no private place to defecate and urinate; they use fields and bushes, ditches or railway tracks, or simply a plastic bag.
Inadequate sanitation has a massive effect on health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea alone is responsible for the deaths of 2 million people every year. The WHO estimates that 88 percent of these deaths are attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
Schistosomiasis is a potentially fatal parasitic infection spread through contact with contaminated water. The simple lack of a toilet causes an estimated 260 million people to be infected with schistosomiasis. Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes death by dehydration. To this day, 50 countries around the world still report annual outbreaks of cholera to the WHO.
Waste water running down the streets is not the only problem. Even the food supplies can be contaminated by untreated waste water, increasing the chances of parasitic and bacterial infections.
The World Toilet Day organizers have created a video to explain the challenges that global sanitation poses to the world: