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The 4.2 billion people in the world living without safely managed sanitation services often face many forms of discrimination. They can be left behind as they try to access and manage sanitation services or improve their current facilities.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 has a target to eliminate open defecation and ensure everyone has access to sustainable sanitation services by 2030, “paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.

World Toilet Day 2019 is drawing attention to those people being left behind without sanitation and the social, economic and environmental consequences of inaction.

A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker.

We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind. Because whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right.

Download the factsheet

Download a short explanation of the issues and key facts. Available in: Arabic, ChineseEnglish, French, Russian and Spanish.

Bringing toilets into the home boosts refugees’ health and security

Bringing toilets into the home boosts refugees’ health and security

Aisha and her husband Matias lean against the mud-brick wall of the house they built themselves in Mulongwe settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s South Kivu province.
They are Burundian refugees receiving cash to construct houses and toilets to improve access to better sanitation.
Bringing a toilet into a compound provides real benefits to refugees’ health and security. It cuts environmental pollution, reduces the transmission of communicable illnesses such as diarrhoea and even lowers the risk of sexual assault.
Find out more about the UN Refugee Agency’s Cash Based Intervention or ‘cash for shelter’ project and read Aisha and Matias’ full story here
WHO closed the toilets?

WHO closed the toilets?

Staff are being denied access to toilets today at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva.

Notices on cubicle doors state ‘Toilet Access Denied’ but also implore them to ‘Cheer up’. The signs explain that ‘You’re not alone. 4.2 billion people don’t have safely managed sanitation.’

Some employees have been left confused, leaving frustrated post-it notes next to the messages, addressed to those responsible for the inconvenience.

In fact, the culprits are the WHO water and sanitation team, who are participating in the global World Toilet Day campaign. Offices and schools around the world are downloading ‘Toilet Access Denied’ posters from the World Toilet Day website and sticking them up in their bathrooms, designed to make people pause and reflect on the billions of people who don’t have a safe toilet anywhere in their lives.

An anonymous source said “No toilets are actually closed. It’s just a light-hearted way to gently shock people and put them in the shoes of the world’s population who have no access to the sort of safe, clean toilets we take for granted.”

Unicef office workers forced to go to the toilet outside

Unicef office workers forced to go to the toilet outside

At the Unicef building in Jordan, the notices on the cubicle doors are clear: ‘This toilet is closed. You’ll have to go outside like 673 million other people’.
Luckily for staff, there is a perfectly clean and functional toilet to use in the car park. 
Today is World Toilet Day, and the usual indoor toilets have been closed as part of a prank to draw attention to the fact that around half the people in the world have no access to a safe toilet and 673 million practise ‘open defecation’ in the streets and fields around their communities.
The stunt took place at the headquarters of Unicef in Amman, Jordan – a country where 42% of households don’t have a sewer connection.
New wealth-from-waste business models offer opportunities for entrepreneurial youth

New wealth-from-waste business models offer opportunities for entrepreneurial youth

Entrepreneurship opportunities in developing countries are arising from an unexpected source: waste. New business models are helping turn septic tank sludge into safe fertiliser and energy. 
As the agricultural sector changes, and shrinks in many places, developing countries are grappling with how to provide meaningful employment to youth and others. A lack of opportunities for youth can in turn lead to migration and political insecurity. 
Sanitation work: light at the end of the tunnel?

Sanitation work: light at the end of the tunnel?

Sanitation workers provide an essential public service, but all too often it comes at the cost of their health, safety and dignity.

These are people who empty toilet pits and septic tanks; enter inspection holes and sewers to fix or unblock them; transport faecal waste; work at treatment plants; or look after sanitation facilities.

They are often invisible, neglected and ostracised. They leave home each day to work in conditions most of us couldn’t begin to imagine, facing the possibility of disease and even death – just to earn enough money to feed and clothe their families.

Sanitation workers not only deserve the fullest respect from society, they also deserve the highest levels of protection as they go about their work.

Here, they tell their own stories in a photographic exhibition on display in Palais des Nations, Geneva, commemorating World Toilet Day on 19th November. The exhibition is co-hosted by International Labor Organization, WaterAid, World Health Organization, World Bank and UN-Water.

 

This exhibition is based on the recently launched report ‘Health, Safety and Dignity of Sanitation Workers. An Initial Assessment‘.

World Toilet Day 2019: Voices from India

World Toilet Day 2019: Voices from India

For the past 40 years, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has been working to address the challenges of water and sanitation in India. It has developed significant expertise in the fields of improving access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. AKF’s Comprehensive Sanitation Initiative, launched in 2015, is a multi-state programme directly supporting the Government’s  flagship campaigns, Clean India Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission. The focus is on facilitating access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and transforming long-standing behaviours that help reduce disease, create healthier communities and improve the quality of life in rural and urban settings. To date, the Initiative has facilitated 140,000+ households with improved access to toilets, with a 95% usage rate amongst families.

On World Toilet Day 2019, here is what some beneficiaries report from India.

The importance of menstrual hygiene management

The importance of menstrual hygiene management

Researchers from UNU INWEH argues that Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is central to achieve gender-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 5 and 6, in new report.

Dr Nidhi Nagabhatla, Principal Researcher (UNU INWEH) says that “MHM remains an under-reflected and tabooed dimension in WASH and health-related goals and targets and needs to carefully integrate in all sectors and interventions related to hygiene and sanitation to manage menstruation safely and confidently”.

Read more in the recently published report A Synthesis Report Analyzing Menstrual Hygiene Management Within a Humanitarian Crisis.

Nepal declares itself free from open defecation

Nepal declares itself free from open defecation

Until this year, people in the tiny village of Majhi, Nepal, used to go to the toilet in the fields and ponds around their homes, just like millions of other Nepalis.
Diseases spread easily, affecting everyone, but particularly the most vulnerable, such as children and people living with disabilities.
A few months ago, a nation-wide effort to motivate every Nepalese household to stop open defection and use a toilet came to Majhi. 
City sanitation: calculating faecal waste flow

City sanitation: calculating faecal waste flow

Cities worldwide are facing a common problem: how to deal with an ever-increasing volume of human faecal waste. 
Ideally, everyone’s poo would be processed along a ‘sanitation chain’ of capture, containment, emptying, transport, treatment, safe reuse or disposal. But in many cities, at one or more stages of the chain, faecal waste escapes and ends up in neighbourhoods and the environment around us.
IRC, an independent, non-profit organisation of WASH experts, believe that cities can improve their sanitation conditions by using a Faecal Waste Flow Calculator. This simple-to-use tool offers an easily understood representation of the volumes of faecal waste within a city, how they are currently being dealt with and where the issues may lie. 
Find out how the tool has been applied in Indonesia and India, as part of the development and field testing process.
Supporting community champions

Supporting community champions

Aga Khan Foundation and UNICEF are playing a vital role in improving community wide sanitation in Moharram’s village. Along with support from key community members, he is making a significant difference to motivate households towards the usage of toilets. This proactive effort is helping his community adopt healthy practices for lasting change. Read more about how the partnership between Aga Khan Foundation and Unicef in Uttar Pradesh, India is helping community champions like Moharram Ali to effectively mobilise their community towards constructing toilets and changing behaviours on personal hygiene.

The story of a Community Hygiene Champion

Public spaces and workplaces left behind in the right to water and sanitation

Public spaces and workplaces left behind in the right to water and sanitation

Safe drinking water and clean and accessible toilets are rights that billions around the world are denied. And while efforts are being made by many States to improve the services people have in their houses, it is frequently outside of the home where people are struggling to survive.
A new report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation focuses on the need to rapidly upscale access to proper water and sanitation facilities outside of the household.
Find out how this lack of basic services affects millions of the world’s poorest people.
Microfinance for sanitation in Bangladesh

Microfinance for sanitation in Bangladesh

In rural Bangladesh, microfinance has been used to encourage sanitation investments by households and entrepreneurs. This public-private project has made small loans available to households to buy sanitation hardware and to small construction companies who offer to install it.

Paving the way for better toilets and water facilities

Paving the way for better toilets and water facilities

In the slum area of Soweto East in Kenya, UN-Habitat and partners consulted with residents as part of a project to help upgrade the road through the neighbourhood and improve toilet and water facilities. People reported that the sanitation blocks gave the area a new lease of life and a host of unexpected positive transformations.

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