Toilets play a very important role in creating a powerful economy as well as enhancing the health and preserving the dignity and safety of people, particularly girls and women. As per the World Health Organization in 2015, around 2.4 billion people live without adequate sanitation and one out of ten people has no option, but to openly defecate. As per the report of WAS-Hwatch in 2016, diarrhea due to unsafe water and poor sanitation kills around 315,000 children each year.
World Toilet Day is a yearly event observed on the 19th of November. The day emphasizes the significance of adequate sanitation and commends for access to safe and clean toilets for all. Originally, initiated by the World Toilet Organization in the year of 2001, the day is celebrated to draw attention towards the international sanitation crisis.
World Toilet Day 2019
World Toilet Day is an international Day observed by the United Nations to tackle the sanitation crisis globally. It is celebrated on 19th November and this year too it was observed on Tuesday, 19th November.
This year’s theme for World Toilet Day was “Leaving no one behind”.
Several events in India and Neighboring Nepal had been organized on Tuesday, 19th November on the occasion of World Toilet Day.
In Nepal’s Chaurideurali village, an Inter-School level drawing competition and prize distribution program were organized, jointly by the Chaurideurali Rural Municipality, Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD) and a Non-government Organization (NGO).
In the western Indian state of Gujarat, a dignity campaign by village leaders and school children to achieve open defecation was also organized at Karjan town in the Vadodara district.
The District Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) organized several sanitation events in Siddipeth, Telangana. The event focused on a number of issues for health and hygiene.
In 2018, The Grameen Swachh Bharat Mission celebrated the day by organizing mass awareness and mobilization activities in villages across the country. It aimed at the construction of toilets and their usage. State governments celebrated the day by organizing ‘Swachh Bharat Toilet Day Contest’ among districts, blocks, and gram panchayat teams.
The Bengal government organized a major toilet awareness campaign on World Toilet Day. It was observed by spreading awareness about the benefits of toilets and the ill effects of open defecation. People were requested to clean their surroundings and convince others to construct and use toilets.
An awareness rally was organized in Mysore where people from various gram panchayats convinced people to build toilets in their houses and stop open defecation in villages. Various cultural events and plays were also organized on the occasion to spread the message about the need for toilets.
The condition of sanitation worldwide
In the year of 2015, it was estimated that around 2.4 billion people lack access to facilities of improved sanitation, and around one billion continue to openly defecate. Just like the right to water, sanitation is also a human right. Lack of sanitation access has an impact on the dignity, safety, and health of people.
The spread of various diseases in children (like diarrhea, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis) and chronic malnutrition, which can be related to a condition known as environmental enteropathy is directly connected to the exposure to the feces of humans. In a study of 145 countries, it was evaluated that 58% of all diarrhea cases were due to poor hygiene, sanitation, and unsafe water. Due to this, more than 526,000 children below five years of age die from sanitation, hygiene, and water-related diarrhea in the year 2015 alone.
Providing proper sanitation has been evaluated to decrease the odds of children who suffer from diarrhea by 7 to 17%. Safely separating the human contact from the feces, results in a healthy environment that provides protection from several diseases. However, historically sanitation receives less funding in comparison to water, even when providing basic toilet facilities reduces diseases two times than providing clean drinking water facilities.
Defecating openly takes its toll on the dignity and safety of humans. This holds especially true for girls and women in developing nations, who lose their privacy and face the shame of defecating in the public. Apart from that, they also need to painfully hold their bowels and bladders the whole day to wait for the night. Women in developing nations are expressing their feelings of fear of rape or assault when they have to leave their houses to go for a toilet.
Reports of harassment or attacks in or near the facilities of the toilet, as well as in or near the areas where women openly defecate, are quite common. The results of such violence against them are psychological and physical for the victim, which extends to communities and families which persist to live with the inequalities of gender.
From 2000 to 2015, people of the world are working for improving the safe toilet facilities and making an end to the open defecation with the help of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. The target of sanitation for the year of 2015 has not been met by 700 million people, and the less developed nations did not reach the target of sanitation. Only 27% of the population of the less developed countries has gained improved sanitation facilities since 1990.
World Toilet Organization
World Toilet Organization is an international non-profit entity, which is committed to improving the sanitation and toilet conditions around the world. The organization was established in 2001 with initially 15 members. The number has now risen to 151 members in 53 countries. All of its members work for eradicating the taboo of toilet and delivering solutions for sustainable sanitation across the globe. Moreover, the World Toilet Organization is also the organizer of the Urgent Run, World Toilet summit and initiated the World Toilet Day of the United Nations.
The organization was established in Singapore by Jack Sim on the 19th of November 2001. It acts as a service platform and a global network for UN agencies, academies, toilet associations, toilet stakeholders and the government. Since its foundation, it has bought together with the private sector, governments, civil society, academia, and multilateral agencies to explore sustainable and innovative solutions to end the crisis of global sanitation. Its mission is to foster the movement of global sanitation with the help of collaborative actions, which drive and inspire the demand for sanitation and impart innovative solutions to attain sustainable sanitation for one and all.
History of World Toilet Day
In the year of 2001, the World Toilet Organization created World Toilet Day. Jack Sim, the creator of the World Toilet Organization as well as the Restroom Association of Singapore, realized that there should be an international day on the issue of toilet and therefore he went ahead with the idea of creating the World Toilet Day so that it can act as a reminder of sanitation issues for people around the world.
Since the establishment of World Toilet Day, it has played a very important role in fostering businesses, governments, and several other groups to create changes in the world. The day has also broken numerous taboos that surround the topic of the toilet for facilitating discussion and creating safer and better solutions.
Why World Toilet Day is celebrated?
World Toilet Day strives to bring the attention of the masses towards a number of sanitation issues and also works to resolve those issues. Even though the access to adequate sanitation has been proclaimed as a human right, one out of three people in the world do not have any approach to the toilet. Above that, the ones who have that access, unsafe and unclean toilets bring various problems, including the spread of a number of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea, and hepatitis. Defecating in the open also leads to an increase in sexual assaults on children and women. The endmost objective of World Toilet Day is to allow each and everybody to take care of their primary needs without any fear of safety.
In the words of Jack Sim, the founder of the World Toilet Organization – “What we don’t discuss, we can’t improve”. The World Toilet Day provides a golden opportunity to spread awareness on the significance of sanitation, and encourage momentum with the aim of reaching everywhere, everyone with improved and equitable sanitation every year. The day acknowledges that everyone must have access to safe toilets and sanitation is an international development priority. Aim of World Toilet Day is to spread the understanding of all the people who do not have toilet facilities, and the urgent requirement to stop the sanitation crisis. The day also aims to motivate people to take the necessary steps to eliminate this crisis.
The theme of World Toilet Day 2019
The theme of 2019 was "Toilets For All"; “Leaving no one behind”.
The theme of World Toilet Day 2018
The theme for World Toilet Day 2018 was ‘When Nature Calls’ (based on Nature-Based solutions).
Every year, the World Toilet Day is celebrated with a different focus, slogan or theme. For 2017, the theme was kept “Wastewater”.
By 2030, the goals of sustainable development aim to reach each and everyone with sanitation and bisect the proportion of the wastewater that is untreated and safe reuse and to increase the recycling. For that, everybody’s poo needs to be contained, treated, disposed, and transported in a sustainable and safe manner. Currently, for billions of people worldwide, sanitation systems are either ineffective or non-existing. Human waste goes out and spreads killer diseases, which means child survival and health progress are extremely undermined. The move towards reaching the goal in line with the theme takes a four-step journey.
- Containment – The poo must be deposited in a clean toilet and stored in a closed tank or pit, separated from the contact of humans.
- Transport – Latrine or pipes emptying solutions must move poo to the stage of treatment.
- Treatment – The poo should be processed in the wastewater that is treated and also the waste products to safely go back to the environment.
- Reuse or disposal – Poo that is safely treated can be utilized for the generation of energy or as fertilizer in the production of food.
Previous Year’s Theme of World Toilet Day
- The theme of 2019 was "Toilets For All"; “Leaving no one behind”.
- The theme of 2018 was ‘When Nature Calls’.
- The theme of 2017 was "wastewater".
- The theme of 2016 was: “Toilets and Jobs”.
- The theme of 2015 was: “Toilets and Nutrition”.
- The theme of 2014 was: “Equality and Dignity”.
- The theme of 2013 was: “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”.
- The theme of 2012 was: “I give a shit, do you?”
How World Toilet Day is Celebrated?
World Toilet Day is commemorated with great enthusiasm worldwide. Every year, the World Toilet Organization celebrates the World Toilet Day with “Urgent Run”. Urgent Run is an organization that calls for immediate action to stop the sanitation crisis and runs with an objective to bring communities together worldwide to spread awareness on the challenge of global sanitation and engage people with the issues of sanitation in their regional communities.
For the past years, communities around the world come together for the Urgent runs themed on sanitation with beyond 63 events held across 42 countries. The formats vary and include educational events, fun runs, toilet cleaning programs, awareness walks, motorbike parades and carnivals. The events are organized by companies, community groups, volunteers, NGOs and universities to engage local communities on the challenges of sanitation.
Countries from all over the world participate which include Benin, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, China, Burundi, Cameroon, France, Germany, India, Ghana, Congo-Brazzaville, Gambia, Italy, Indonesia, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Kenya, Netherlands, United States, Vietnam, Senegal, Mongolia and Mozambique. All of them share a unifying message that calls for an urgent action to stop the sanitation crisis globally.
Some of the examples of events held in recent years around the world are as follows:
The toilet is a serious business in India, with more than 60.4% population that still lacks access to sanitation. World Toilet Day is a crucial day in India as it remains a significant issue in the country, particularly for children and women. Celebrations are observed in the capital of the country, especially in the toilet museum in Delhi.
For the first time in the world in 2014, Delhi had witnessed a long and unique three day celebration from 18th to 20th November on a taboo theme known as the International Toilet Festival. The festival was organized to raise awareness on the significance of toilet. The opening ceremony was highlighted with a convergence of around 1000 students from six countries that forms a chain of humans who carried toilet pots on their heads.
A series of theme-based programs, fashion shows, seminars, talk shows, sporting events, awareness campaigns, and cultural shows were also organized at popular places like Pragati Maidan, Metro stations, India Gate, Connaught Place, Delhi Haat, and Kutub Minar to raise awareness on the significance of toilets.
In India, Sulabh International, a social service organization organizes several events to draw attention of the masses on the issue of toilets. International Toilet Festival was also organized by Sulabh to create a buzz on the World Toilet Day.
The United Nations World Toilet Day is celebrated every year in Singapore. Local celebrations include roadshows that last for a number of days starting from the 19th of November. Giant toilet balloons or giant toilet seats are placed to attract more and more people and raise an understanding of the day. Exhibitions are organized where people interact with the staff of the World Toilet Organization to share the sanitation development and history of the country.
The staff also shares the general public with their work done towards the global sanitation issues in which they help build toilets in the schools of rural areas and teach students the significance of good hygiene practices. Toilet games are also organized and free prizes are distributed to attract people towards the issue. People of Singapore also make donations towards the cause by purchasing the t-shirts and medals of the Urgent Run.
World Toilet Day in Vietnam is observed by the Vietnam Women’s Union, Ministry of Education and Training, United Nations Children Fund, Ministries of Health and local authorities to enhance the sanitation of rural areas and for local people health conditions by the means of sustainable education and numerous communication channels.
Joints programs are organized since 2012 in the country to spread awareness, improve hygiene and enhance the environmental sanitation, especially of the rural Vietnamese people. Hygiene education programs are also conducted for children of elementary schools for providing education on proper sanitation. The urgent runners of Vietnam also participate in various events to celebrate the day.
People of Germany also celebrate World Toilet Day each year to spread awareness on the importance of the day. The German Toilet Organization organizes various events that make people aware of the issue of global sanitation and the essence of toilets. Common people contribute to breaking the taboo of sanitation by having their pictures taken with the slogans on the significance of toilets. Exhibitions are also organized in the toilet center of the main station of Berlin. School children also take active participation in the day by organizing events in their schools as well as road shows.
People of Australia take the subject of the toilet very seriously. Every year, World Toilet Day is observed in the country with great zeal. People of various community groups, workplaces and schools donate towards the issue on this day. WaterAid, Australia along with the help of its partners and local people help the poorest communities of the world to construct thousands of toilets. Several events are also held in various locations to provide basic information on the health and sanitation issues to common people. Universities, government bodies, private individuals and organizations, all of them take part in events held to recognize the day in the country.
Suggestions for celebrating World Toilet Day in India
According to a current report, India has the longest queues for toilets in the world. If all the people in the country, who are waiting for toilets, will line up then queue would take 5892 years for clearance and stretch from moon to the earth. Our country also has the maximum number of people who openly defecate. As per recent census data, nearly half of the country including 1.2 billion people, has no toilet facility at their home but more people have a mobile phone.
Though a lot has been done in this direction, people, especially women face a lot many problems due to the lack of access to toilets. The number of woman demanding toilets during their marriage is increasing day by day. World Toilet Day provides an opportunity to raise understanding of the issue. Here are some suggestions to celebrate the day in India-
- People of India can participate in the Urgent Run or even host their personal events. Urgent Run is an international mobilization event that draws attention towards the call for urgent action that ends the crisis of sanitation.
- Awareness can also be raised by sharing posts on Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and other social media platforms. You can make use of hashtags like #sanitation, #opendefecation, #wecantwait, #worldtoiletday etc.
- On the day, people can contact their members of parliament, community leaders or local representatives to let them know that they care about public toilets in their area. Talk about toilets with the local communities on the day.
- Help break the taboo of the toilet by talking about it with classmates, friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors and spread awareness on the significance of action towards sanitation.
- More people have access to mobile phones than they have to toilets. So on World Toilet Day take a toilet selfie and post on social media to show people how lucky you are that you have such kind of facility.
- Make donations towards the construction of new toilets in your area.
- Learn about the crisis of sanitation on the website of World Toilet Organization “worldtoilet.org” and also know about how you can get involved in various toilet matters.
Those with easy access to toilets perhaps do not think much about the value of sanitation. Such people just see it as a place to relieve themselves and flush away their waste. But to the 2.4 billion people worldwide, who do not have access to a basic toilet facility, it means so much more. Though the government is contributing efforts towards this direction, the ‘Clean India’ mission of our Indian Government plans to build toilets for each and every household by the year 2019. Still many people, particularly women and children, suffer from diseases due to open defecation.
World Toilet Day provides the best platform to spread awareness on the issue and help people contribute towards this cause.