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World Toilet Day 2013: Say #ThankYouToilet and #CelebrateTheToilet

Seating Toilet in JapanToday is the day that justifies my research (the governance and global politics of sanitation). Today is World Toilet Day. For the first time, the United Nations has recognized this day as a UN day. and while for some people it may be “scatological” to talk about toilets, sanitation, shitting and poo, all of these are important components of human life. Every day, 1600 children die because of lack of access to proper sanitation. Recent research has demonstrated that access to better sanitation improves the scores of children in school-age, and decrease probabilities of stunting. Lack of proper sanitation has terrible, negative implications on the lives of young women. Decreased access to sanitation facilities means that young women and girls do not have access to proper menstrual management methods, thereby having to miss school with the subsequent negative effects on progress in their education.

old toilets in Montevideo (Uruguay)When I was in Montevideo (Uruguay) a couple of weeks ago doing some fieldwork, I witnessed instances of open defecation. On the streets of beautiful Ciudad Vieja. Open defecation isn’t a practice only carried out in poor, developing countries. It happens in developed countries too. 935 million people still practice open defecation. They do so often times because they do not have access to the dignity of a toilet. According to data released by the World Bank, 53% of Indian households defecate in the open. Our progress towards the Millennium Development Goals targets in 2015 are definitely way off. There is still 2.5 billion people without access to improved sanitation. The situation in Mexico isn’t that much better given the lack of interest of Mexican government officials in sanitation.

If we were to continue progress towards the MDGs at a growth rate of 1% increase in access to sanitation per year, we still would need 54 years to get to where we should be by 2015.

I know, sort of unbelievable.

This year, there have been a number of excellent campaigns around World Toilet Day 2013. Water Aid created a funny but relevant song through Louie the Loo, called Thank You Toilet:

Why toilets? Because we need them to fulfill one of the most basic and vital needs, and we need them on a global scale. Because the size of the problem is so big. So this year, Celebrate the Toilet on World Toilet Day.

Posted in World Toilet Day, academia, sanitation, wastewater.

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2 Responses

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  1. Vivienne Bennett says

    Great post, Raúl! I am going to use this in my class on water conflicts. Vivienne

Continuing the Discussion

  1. The politics of wastewater governance – Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD linked to this post on December 22, 2013

    [...] “the political” in sanitation and wastewater governance. I’ve written before here on why I study sanitation. The size of the problem is huge, and it is such a basic necessity. Yet almost a billion people [...]



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