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World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG #6, aim to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. It was first established in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization. 

Theme for 2021 : Valuing toilets

"Who cares about toilets? 3.6 billion people do. Because they don’t have one that works properly.“ That is the starting point of this 2021 Campaign for World Toilet Day. The Observance celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. When some people in a community do not have safe toilets, everyone’s health is threatened. Poor sanitation contaminates drinking-water sources, rivers, beaches and food crops, spreading deadly diseases among the wider population.

This year’s theme is about valuing toilets. The campaign draws attention to the fact that toilets – and the sanitation systems that support them – are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world, with devastating consequences for health, economics and the environment, particularly in the poorest and most marginalized communities.

On the other hand, the advantages of investing in an adequate sanitation system are immense. For instance, every $1 invested in basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain. For women and girls, toilets at home, school and at work help them fulfil their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy. 

Facts to know

  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. 
  • Every day, over 700 children under five years old die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and poor hygiene. 
  • For every $1 invested in basic sanitation up to $5 is returned in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain. 

The global sanitation crisis is reflected in the following facts, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF):

  • Over half of the global population or 4.2 billion people lack safe sanitation.
  • 40% – or three billion people – of the global population live without basic handwashing facilities with soap and water available at home.
  • 2 in 5 schools around the world lacked basic handwashing facilities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Around 297,000 children under five – more than 800 every day – die annually from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor hygiene, poor sanitation or unsafe drinking water.
  • Globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
  • By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year, creating unprecedented competition for water.
  • By 2050, the number of people at risk of floods will increase from its current level of 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion. 
  • Extreme weather – expected to increase in frequency and intensity because of climate change – has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade.

Source : UN

Related resources

  1. 2022 UN World Water Development Report
  2. World Toilet Day (WHO)

Last Modified : 6/1/2022



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