We know a bit about weird places to put toilets in Australia. Like this one at the junction of Windorah/Bedourie Rd, on the Birdsville Track – at least an hour from the nearest settlement. Why was it there? Who would go all this way just to visit the conveniences? We may never know. Toilets in general though are a more serious, er, issue.

Well, today is World Toilet Day and when you’ve finished sniggering it is important to remember that 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.

Why? Try a few of these stats.

One in three women across the world risks shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they do not have a safe place to go to the toilet. This is unthinkable in the West, but a horrible reality in the developing world and the impact is devastating.

Diarrheal diseases (such as cholera) kill more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, making it the second leading cause of death among children under five.

Plus, absence of clean toilets and inadequate sanitation facilities are key causes of diarrhoeal disease, the second largest killer of children worldwide, causing around 760,000 child deaths every year.

Diarrhoeal disease is also a contributing factor to malnutrition, which in turn can lead to stunted growth and impede cognitive development.

This is a desperate situation. Diarrhoeal disease and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) need to be at the heart of a developed country’s foreign policy and aid efforts.

The UK Liberal Democrat’s party policy on preventing disease and improving health would be a good start for any developed country, aiming to:

  • Ensure 15 million more people have access to safe, clean water
  • Ensure 25 million people have access to proper sanitation facilities

Great progress is being made on this most basic of needs. Diarrhoea-related deaths around the world having declined from 12 million to 7 million in the past two decades. But more needs to be done to ensure that we meet the world’s commitments to Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Glass of water, anyone?

Leading NGOs such as PATH, Tearfund and WaterAid are working hard to support the development of safe, healthy and productive communities and providing clean drinking water is a key step in freeing people from the misery of diarrhoeal (and many other) diseases.

OK, now this organisation (see below) is one of my favourites. Why not click and find out more? Right now, while you think about it?

Give clean water as a gift. It makes a great Christmas present for anyone you know who (a) will appreciate the gesture because they care about the little people, or (b) needs to appreciate the gesture because they should care more about the little people.


And you can tell all your friends you did something meaningful – splashed out a little? – to celebrate World Toilet Day.

(*OK, only one little sniggery joke. Maybe one and a half. That was pretty good, really.)

  1. lionelsnod says:

    Very good post. It’s amazing how little we think of water, whether it’s drinking water or sanitation. It’s easy not to think about it when you have thought, I suppose. Thanks for posting & bringing awareness to this situation & great organization.

    Paul R. Hewlett


    • Thanks Paul, and I think you make a very good point. It’s just so ubiquitously easy for us in the west – hit a button, turn a tap – that we just don’t think about it. I remember I was in Bali a little while back and there was a heavy rainstorm. After, driving along, we saw a man bathing – washing himself – in the drainage channel by the road while Western tourists sped past in buses. I don’t think the image will ever leave me.


  2. […] It’s World Toilet Day. Here’s why you should give a shit*. (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com) […]


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