World Toilet Day

So I just found out (via Christine Sine’s blog) that today is World Toilet Day. Thanks to my little sister, who recommended a book to me this summer called “The Big Necessity” (check out some excerpts from it here on Slate), as well as just being friends with Mel Temple, I’ve slowly been realizing the importance of this.

– Approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide (almost 40% of global population) do not have access to toilets, latrines, outhouses, or other sanitation facilities (somewhere safe, private, and hygenic) ~ via wateraid

– That lack of sanitation contributes to approximately 1.8 million (that’s 1,800,000) deaths per year.

– Over 4000 children die every day from diseases that could be prevented with access to clean water and hygenic sanitation – killing 5 times as many children as HIV/AIDS, and over twice as many as are killed by malaria. ~ via

– The vast majority of organizations that focus on water issue focus on the drinking side of the equation – the getting of clean water (whether through wells, desalinization plants, filtration systems, etc.), and not on the hygiene/sanitation/sewer side of the problem. However, the two are inextricably intertwined.

Working to contribute to solving this problem is the WTO. No, not the World Trade Organization. The World Toilet Organization. The WTO’s approach is intriguing.

In addition to advocacy, capacity building and sanitation projects, WTO is now driving a market-based strategy to address the dysfunctional sanitation market for the poor, by installing efficient market infrastructure.

Sanitation brings benefits of health and dignity to humanity especially to the slums, and rural areas. Promotion of ecological sanitation through recycling of excreta helps prevent environmental pollution into water ways.

Our work is important to improve the quality of human life, and we look forward to include you into this meaningful movement.

Or, as Jack Sim, the founder of the WTO states,

“We want to make toilets sexy…”

The WTO site goes on to discuss their strategy for implementing the installation and spread of basic sanitation services on such a large scale.

Instead of seeing 2.5 billion toilet-less as underprivileged and helpless people, WTO visualizes 2.5 billion of potential customers demanding safe and affordable toilets. WTO is driving a market-based approach to address the dysfunctional sanitation market for the poor.

Dependence on donations is not enough to address the problem of such vast magnitude and scale. Further, toilet promotion on health reasons has not motivated poor to invest in toilets. WTO aims to emotionally connect with poor by branding toilets as status symbol and an object of desire. (emphasis mine)

And while I’m unsure about the approach (I don’t know if I want to encourage our materialism and commercialism in this regard), I do appreciate the desire to implement this through sustainable means, and in a way this is empowering and inclusive.

I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on this (as I dash it off to make sure that this post is posted before World Toilet Day officially ends…) Anyone?


1 Comment

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One response to “World Toilet Day

  1. What an intriguing approach. It seems practical to me, as opposed to a more lofty spin.

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