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.
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.
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.)