The United Nations declared Nov. 19 World Toilet Day.

Does declaring a day to acknowledge the lowly toilet seem strange to you?  The United Nations said this action on their part aims to bring awareness to the critical need for improved sanitation in  much of the world. 

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Many people in the United States, and in other western cultures, take toilets and basic sanitation for granted.  For instance, how many toilets does your home have?  When is the last time you had to worry about the toilet or the plumbing in your home?  Maybe you’ve had a plumbing problem recently that was quite an inconvenience (and maybe a financial nuisance), but most likely it didn’t present a threat to your health or the health of your family.  A simple plumbing problem, or an annoyingly more complicated one; still you either fixed it yourself, or called your plumber to have the repair done, and were back to normal in no time.

Many people in the world do not have access to a toilet!

But, sadly, one in three people in the world – 2.5 billion people! – do not have access to that which so many of us take for granted: a safe, clean, and private toilet.  Yet, we all know (or should know) that the lack of toilet facilites and sanitary plumbing in so many parts of the world is a major contributor to serious diseases, especially in children.  In fact, illnesses caused by poor sanitation result in 1 death every 20 seconds!1

And, according to an article on CNN2 the action taken by the United Nations in declaring World Toilet Day is necessary because the “unglamorous nature of the subject of toilets” is a hindrance to fund raising and to raising awareness of the need for improved sanitation in lesser developed nations.  Yes, the subject of toilets and sanitation is not glamorous, and not often the topic of party chatter.  But a more disturbing fact is that, in many parts of the world, the subject of toilets, their uses and purpose, is not only unglamorous, it’s considered taboo.

Striving to give “dignified sanitation” to the world.

Garvey Chui, the Asia representative for Toilet Hackers3, a nonprofit organization trying to give access to “dignified sanitation” to those without, says: “We aim to make these hugely important issues relevant and sexy”.  Comparing and contrasting the situation in lesser developed nations with the expected sanitation standards of Westerners, she goes on to stress that “for those without access to safe, clean and private toilets and sanitation, it is more than an inconvenience, it can be life or death” and cites that the threat is often more than just an increased incidence of illness from poor sanitation, but includes other dangers:

“One very dangerous time for a woman in a developing country, and one of the main times she may get sexually assaulted, is when she is going to the washroom. When there is no toilet to go to, she is vulnerable and exposed when she is going outdoors or in a public space, often late at night and away from people.”

We have an “availability of solutions”.

Solving this problem does not require new technology but, rather, increased awareness and a commitment to working together to promote, as actor Matt Damon puts it, “the availability of solutions.”1

As I think about it, I’ve decided the timing of World Toilet Day is just perfect for Americans: mid-November, just before the holidays.  How about remembering to say thanks this year for the high level of health-preserving sanitation standards we enjoy in this nation.  And, don’t forget to tell a friend about World Toilet Day.  Help increase awareness of this critical need.

Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
(602) 273-7473