World Toilet Day is observed annually on the 19th of November and this year it focuses on accelerating change.
Many of us in the Western world may take our toilet and washroom facilities for granted, but a whopping 3.5 billion people around the world still don’t have access to safe toilets, and 419 million people still practice ‘open defecation. Access to clean and safe toilets isn’t just a basic human right; it’s also essential for our health and wellbeing.
The Global Sanitation Crisis
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were launched in a bid to ensure that everybody in the world has access to a toilet by 2030. World Toilet Day is helping this goal to be realised by raising awareness about how sanitation, or the lack of it, can impact people’s livelihoods and even cost them their lives. The more knowledgeable people are, the more effectively they can contribute to helping to resolve these issues.
“Accelerating Change” in 2023
This year’s accelerating change theme is symbolised by the ancient old tale of the hummingbird, which does what it can to fight a great fire, by carrying tiny water droplets in its beak. An action that is small but helps to save a bigger problem.
Just like the hummingbird, each of us can contribute, no matter how small, to helping to tackle sanitation issues effectively.
Image source: worldtoiletday.info
Shocking toilet facts you may not know:
- Disease transmission at work, mostly due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths. (UNCTAD)
- Loss of productivity due to illness caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP. (Wateraid)
- In India, the time spent looking for a toilet or finding somewhere to go to the toilet in the open costs the economy over $10 billion every year. (reuters.com)
- Contaminated water can cause diarrhoea, which in turn can prevent those children who suffer from it from getting the nutrients they need to survive, leading to malnutrition. (UNICEF)
How to practice good washroom hygiene
In the UK most of us are lucky enough to have easy access to safe water and sanitary toilet facilities.
However, it is still important to follow good hygiene practices when using the toilet, so remember to:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 15 seconds after using the toilet.
- After washing the hands, be sure to dry your hands thoroughly as damp hands spread 1,000 times more bacteria than dry ones. Even recently washed hands can quickly become bacterial breeding grounds if they remain damp, as they provide the moist, warm conditions that bacteria need to thrive!
- Carry hand sanitiser as it is perfect to use after handwashing for extra protection.
- Always dispose of sanitary waste in the bins provided, and never flush feminine hygiene products down the toilet.
World Toilet Day serves as a global call for sanitation, dignity, and awareness. By understanding the significance of proper sanitation, supporting global initiatives, and taking small actions in our own lives, we can accelerate change and work towards a world where everyone has access to safe and clean toilets, promoting health, wellbeing, and economic progress for all.