When you hear that November 19th is World Toilet Day, perhaps your initial reaction may be one of cynicism. "Do we need a whole day devoted to toilets? Isn’t there a designated ‘day’ for absolutely everything now?" But of all the days you mark this year, World Toilet Day may actually be one of the most important.
According to the World Toilet Organization (WTO)’and yes, there is one’2.6 billion people around the world don’t have access to toilets and proper sanitation. The lack of something we take completely for granted greatly impacts the lives of nearly half of the people on Earth. Diarrheal disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the world, and the main cause of these illnesses is poor sanitation. The WTO depicts this statistic quite shockingly on their website. The organization states that safe disposal of children’s feces could reduce childhood diarrhea by 40 percent.
What’s more, women are often the most affected by lack of proper sanitation, as the WTO expains:
“In many developing countries, modesty forces women to poop in the fields before sunrise, or to hold it until after the sun sets. Imagine if you weren’t allowed to relieve yourself during daylight hours, no matter how bad you wanted to go! What’s more, many cases of rape occur in these dark and deserted areas.”
Not so cynical about celebrating the old porcelain throne now, huh?
So what can you do to help? On November 19th, the WTO is promoting a program called The Big Squat’people all over the world will squat for one minute to raise awareness for those who do not have access to proper sanitation. Here’s a kit to help you organize your own Big Squat event. You can also make a donation to the WTO, UNICEF or another charitable organization that helps communities in developing nations get access to clean water and sanitation.