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.
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.”
Everything you wanted to know about toilets, explained by sanitation expert Kate Medlicott in this live
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‘.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.