This is a shocking fact. Imagine the dreadful feeling that you have to defecate publicly or in the rudimentary pit toilet which has little or no water at all to flush. Lack of proper sanitation facilities not only causes hygiene risks, but also leads to consequences beyond health.
1. Public Hygiene
One gram of faeces carries up to 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses. Not having a proper toilet means there is no way to prevent your faeces from polluting the environment and in turn spreading diseases. Food contamination happens when minute particles of faeces get onto fingers, carried by flies, picked up or harvested in fields, and spread through wastewater.
2. Maternal Health
Every day, 800 women around the world die in pregnancy or while giving birth. Many of these deaths are preventable, if given a proper and hygienic surroundings. Yet, a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey shows that 38% of health-care facilities do not even have basic access to water.
3. Child Health
Around 289,000 children under five die every year, nearly one child every two minutes, from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. Even for the children who survive after five, hundreds of thousands are left stunted. Studies show that stunting and open defecation are positively associated, because faecal matter contaminates the food, water, and general environment, making children constantly ill and possibly impairing children’s physical and cognitive development.
According to UNICEF, in low-income countries only 46% of schools, on average, have toilets for their students. Even in the rest of the schools, students might have to share with the whole school for just one or two toilets. Very often students fall behind of studies and drop out because of infections picked up in unhygienic schools. Girls are especially susceptible to poor sanitation when they go through menstruation. Many of them stay home for a week each month and it’s very likely that after a while they just stop going to school entirely.
5. Economic Development
The annual global economic losses associated with inadequate water supply and sanitation are estimated to be US$260 billion (€220 billion). Improving health condition in communities can reduce the medical cost and increase productivity of a country, hence supporting the ground for a stronger economic development.
World Toilet Day: take a #toiletselfie
At Simavi, we are dedicated in improving access to sanitation for all and believe that behavioural change is the key. On World Toilet Day, November 19, we raise awareness about the 2.4 billion people who still lack access to a clean and safe toilet.
Join our campaign (in Dutch), take a good look at your beloved toilet and snap a selfie. Tag us on Twitter @SimaviNL and check out #toiletselfie from others.