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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 2020 : Sustainable sanitation and climate change

This year the theme remarks the importance of "Sustainable sanitation and climate change".

Climate change is accelerating. Flood, drought, and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. Floodwater can contaminate wells used for drinking water or flooding might damage toilets and spread human waste into communities and food crops, causing deadly and chronic diseases.

Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera, and typhoid.

Toilets can help us to fight climate change too! Wastewater and sludge from toilets contain valuable water, nutrients, and energy. Sustainable sanitation systems make productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

But, what is exactly a sustainable sanitation system?

Sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible, and dignified setting. The waste then gets stored in a tank, which can be emptied later by a collection service, or transported away by pipework.

The next stage is treatment and safe disposal. Safe reuse of human waste helps save water, reduces and captures greenhouse gas emissions for energy production, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.

Facts to know

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. 2020 UN World Water Development Report
  2. World Toilet Day (WHO)


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