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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.

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

World’s biggest refugee settlement gets biggest ever waste facility

World’s biggest refugee settlement gets biggest ever waste facility

The biggest human waste treatment facility ever built in a refugee settlement has become operational. The facility, funded by UNHCR to serve the settlements near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, can process the waste of 150,000 people, mostly Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in their homeland of Myanmar.

Ending open defecation: it takes a village

Ending open defecation: it takes a village

In Guinea-Bissau, open defecation remains a deeply rooted practice. The region of Quinara was recognized as the first to become ‘open defecation free’ in Guinea-Bissau – a remarkable achievement in a country where nearly one in six people still go out in the open. How was it done? By letting the community lead the process: asking families to identify areas around the home they use as toilets and then work with local NGOs to understand the health risks and to take action to build and use toilets.

“I love to break taboos”

“I love to break taboos”

Human rights activist Oyungerel Tsedevdamba is leading an approach to tackle taboos and improve sanitation in Mongolia. She founded an NGO that aims to de-stigmatise the word “toilet” and educate people about toilet technologies. “The fact that billions of people still lack safe water and sanitation is not merely a development emergency, it’s a human rights failure,” she said.

Female plumbers making water and sanitation systems safe

Female plumbers making water and sanitation systems safe

Growing numbers of female plumbers in Jordan are being trained by the International Labour Organization to help protect people from electrocution via their household water systems. Safaa runs her own company in Irbid, Jordan, which has a group of around 20 female plumbers carrying out this essential work to ensure metal piping in water and sanitation systems is safely insulated from electricity cables.

Lack of toilets and the risks for women and girls

Lack of toilets and the risks for women and girls

Half of all the people without access to decent sanitation – around 2 billion people – are female. 
Women and girls have different sanitation needs from men and boys, not least because of biological differences such as menstruation and pregnancy. 
Women and girls often stay home during menstruation if their school or workplace does not have adequate sanitation services. 
In many places, in the absence of appropriate sanitation facilities, cultural norms mean that women wait until it is dark to go to the toilet. In order to avoid having to go to the toilet too often, women often drink less, resulting in urinary tract infections, chronic constipation, other gastric disorders, and dehydration. 
Women and girls also face physical threats where sanitation services are inadequate. They are vulnerable to violence, including sexual violence, when they use public or open sanitation facilities, especially if they have to use those facilities at night.
Read more from Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and Water Integrity Network (WIN) on removing barriers to access for women and girls so that they can achieve their full potential as active and equal members of thriving societies.

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