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WaterAid calls for action on World Toilet Day

Augustine N. Myers/Jos Garneo Cephas
WaterAid Liberia / Sierra Leone Team Leader, Chuchu Selma
WaterAid Liberia / Sierra Leone Team Leader, Chuchu Selma

(,2015)-WaterAid in Liberia and Sierra Leone is calling on both governments for commitment to delivering universal access to sanitation following the release of new analysis.

The new analysis shows which countries in the world have the worst rates of access to safe, private toilets.

On this World Toilet Day, 19 November, as the world observes this day, clean water, good sanitation and rigorous hygiene are also essential in preventing the spread of diseases.

WaterAid’s first “It’s No Joke - State of the World’s Toilets” report reveals the hardest place in the world to find a toilet, where you’ll find the most people waiting, and what developed nations are facing their own challenges on sanitation.

Liberia now has 83.1% of its people without access to safe, private toilets. No data was available for 1990. Sierra Leone now has 86.7% of its people without access to safe, private toilets. Since 1990, access has improved by 3.2 percentage points, making it the 30th most improved of 38 countries with measurable data in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, has the worst household access to sanitation in the world, followed closely by Niger, Togo and Madagascar. Access to safe sanitation, and ensuring that everyone in a community uses a toilet, is key to better health and an important measure in addressing undernutrition linked to chronic diarrhoeal illnesses.

The report highlights the plight of more than 2.3 billion people in the world who do not have access to a safe, private toilet. Of these, nearly 1 billion have no choice but to defecate in the open – in fields, at roadsides or in bushes.

The result is a polluted environment in which diseases spread fast. An estimated 314,000 children under five die each year of diarrhoeal illness which could be prevented with safe water, good sanitation and good hygiene. Many more have their physical and cognitive development stunted through repeated bouts of diarrhoea, blighting their life chances.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Angola has seen the most improvement since 1990, followed closely by Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Among  other findings of the report:

• India, the world’s second-most populous country, holds the record for the most people waiting for sanitation (774 million) and the most people per square kilometre (173) practising open defecation.

• The tiny South Pacific island of Tokelau has made the most progress on delivering sanitation since 1990; impressively, Nepal, despite the immense challenges posed by its mountainous landscape, comes in the top 4 in this category.

• Nigeria has seen a dramatic slide in the number of people who have access to toilets since 1990.

• Not everyone in the developed world has toilets. Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden are among nations with measurable numbers still without safe, private household toilets; Russia has the lowest percentage of household toilets of all developed nations.

WaterAid’s Team Leader in Liberia and Sierra, Chuchu K. Selma said just two months ago we saw all the member-states of the United Nations promise to deliver access to safe, private toilets to everyone everywhere by 2030. He stressed; ‘’Our analysis shows just how many nations in the world are failing to give sanitation the political prioritisation and financing required. We also know that swift progress is possible, from the impressive advances in sanitation achieved in nations like Nepal and Vietnam." 

He noted: "No matter where you are in the world, everyone has a right to a safe, private place to relieve themselves, and to live healthy and productive lives without the threat of illness from poor sanitation and hygiene. On this World Toilet Day, it’s time for the world to make good on their promises and understand that while we all love toilet humour, the state of the world’s sanitation is no joke” the Team Leader concluded.

WaterAid’s senior policy analyst on sanitation, Andrés Hueso, said: “WaterAid’s analysis of the state of the world’s toilets has exposed some revealing facts: in many cases, nations that need to make great strides on sanitation are falling behind, with devastating consequences for health, education and women’s safety."

According to Hueso: "We need leaders worldwide to state publicly that sanitation is crucial and to prioritise and fund it accordingly. And it’s not enough to just deliver toilets. Transforming hygiene behaviours and making sure that everyone within a community is able to use a toilet – regardless of age, gender or ability – so that they are used by everyone is key to realising the full health benefits.”

This World Toilet Day, WaterAid is calling for:

• World leaders tofund, implement and account for progress towards the new UN Global Goals on sustainable development. Goal 6 – water, sanitation and hygiene for all – is fundamental to ending hunger and ensuring healthy lives, education and gender equality..

• Improving the state of the world’s toilets with political prioritisation and long-term increases in financing for water, sanitation and hygiene, by both national governments and donor countries like the UK.

• National governments to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and birthing centres have safe toilets, clean running water and functional sinks and soap for handwashing, to reduce maternal, new-born and child deaths and strengthen children’s ability to attend school; and to include water, sanitation and hygiene in plans to address undernutrition and acute malnutrition.

• Aid to be directed to where it’s most needed and the mobilising of domestic revenue to make water, sanitation and hygiene a priority. Many of the world’s poorest countries who are most in need of aid for sanitation and hygiene are receiving the least, because they don’t meet donors’ strategic priorities.   


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