Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Let’s talk about toilets

Did you know it’s World Toilet Day today? With more than 2.5 billion people not having access to a toilet, we think it’s about time we talked about them. 

Regardless of whether you call it the loo, the cloakroom, the lav or, excuse us but we’re going to say it, ‘the bog’, we all need to have access to a toilet, right? We might not want to talk about ‘them’, but can you imagine the chaos if we didn’t have any toilets? With seven billion people on the planet, this is not a pleasant thought to dwell on.

If you’re blessed to have a private toilet in your home (or maybe even more than one), you’re part of a select few who have access to such a luxury. More than 2.5 billion people do not have access to any kind of toilet at all, let alone one in the privacy of their home. That means that one in three people do not have a safe, clean and private toilet.

Many of us take the humble toilet for granted. After all, in the developed world there’s always one around the corner, even if you’re at the shops, a restaurant, or on the beach. And heaven forbid if it happens to be missing toilet paper, soap and an automatic hand dryer! But try and imagine for a moment if your only access to a toilet of any kind was a hole in the ground, where other people had also done ‘their business’, and for toilet paper all you had was a handful of leaves or some newspaper, if you were lucky.

Having access to adequate sanitation should be a basic human right, and it’s one that could prevent the unnecessary illness and even death of millions every year. According to the World Toilet Day website, “diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.”

Bringing toilets to those who need them is not a matter of breakthrough science, it’s a matter of political will, awareness, and hard work.

Watch this video and meet Jack Sim (aka Mr. Toilet), an international advocate for sanitation who believes that what we don’t talk about can be deadly.

(Photograph courtesy of  the World Toilet Day website)

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