World Toilet Day: One third of the world population still does not have access to improved sanitation facilities

19 November marks the UN World Toilet Day. It is the day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet. Of the world’s seven billion people, only 4.5 billion people have improved sanitation facilities, while 6 billion possess a mobile phone. This means that 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation installations, and 1 billion people still defecate in the open. In addition, women and girls risk rape and abuse because they have no toilet facilities offering privacy.

As part of its response to this water crisis, Green Cross International (GCI) launched the Smart Water for Green Schools project in February 2010, a project that puts water and sanitation at the heart of community development, helping to enhance the health, education and aspirations of young people.

The project supports the practical realization of the universal Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation through four main activities:

• equipping schools with rainwater harvesting systems

• providing schools with ecological sanitation facilities and separate toilets for girls

• installing other water systems, such as wells and boreholes, for the wider community

• developing environmental, hygiene and health education programmes

GCI has implemented Smart Water for Green Schools projects in China, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Bolivia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Ukraine, Mexico and Haiti.

On this day to remember, GCI joins the United Nations campaign prompting that the world can’t wait any longer. As a partner of the Coalition Eau in France, grouping some 28 national and international organizations active with water and sanitation issues, GCI supports the campaign “Parlons Toilettes!” (let’s talk about toilets) launched in Paris by Coalition Eau and Secours Islamique France. This campaign aims at informing and raising public awareness about this unrecognized issue and to launch an appeal to authorities to take action at international level.

Did you know?

• 2.5 billion people without access to improved sanitation facilities

• 1 billion people defecate in the open

• 2,000 children under the age of 5 die every day due to diseases caused by diarrhea and the lack of proper toilet facilities

• 272 million school days are lost every year due to illnesses caused by the lack of sanitation

• 1 woman out of 3 is exposed to illness, public shame, harassment or sexual abuse because of the lack of privacy in toilet facilities

• US$ 260 billion are lost every year because of the lack of access to water and sanitation

• Improved sanitation = water flush latrines, pit latrines with slab, ventilated improved pits, composting toilets

• Unimproved sanitation = pit latrine without slab, bucket toilets, hanging latrines, toilets not flushing to septic tank or sewer

For further information:

UN World Toilet Day

Smart Water for Green Schools programme

Parlons Toilettes !

About the Water for Life and Peace programme:

GCI’s Water for Life and Peace programme promotes a rights-based approach and the emergence of a sound global water governance that promotes cooperation over shared water resources and ensures a sustainable and equitable use of freshwater resources. It addresses the lack of access to water and sanitation through advocacy, education, and practical projects around the world.

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