WHAT WOULD LIFE LOOK LIKE WITHOUT SANITATION
Of all the things we have access to in our daily lives, access to toilet facilities and sanitation (no matter how dirty or neglected!) might just be one of the things we most take for granted. Of course, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the fashionable side of washroom services. While it is important that hygiene services be up to a particular standard, however, it’s equally important to remember how lucky we are to have access to these facilities in the first place.
World Toilet Day is an event that takes place every year on 19th November; specifically to remind us not only of the importance of good sanitation and how it can save lives, but also to take action against the current global sanitation crisis that still impacts the lives of so many people around the world.
But the impact of World Toilet Day extends far beyond the date itself. It’s important to remember why sanitation has such an impact on our daily lives and our health. In our day to day lives, most of us take these facilities for granted, never pausing to consider what would happen if they were taken away from us. Living without basic sanitation services is the reality for 1 billion people.
The following factors are harmful features of daily life; a reality which is precisely what World Toilet Day works to mitigate.
Lack of Clean Water
For many of the countries in the world that exist without toilets, a lack of clean running water is the main cause of this, and there may be no running water at all. Photographer Andrea Bruce took on the challenge of a year-long project documenting the sanitation crisis across several countries and was shocked at the sheer number of people that lived without clean running water.
During her trips to India, Vietnam and Haiti, Bruce witnessed countless people living amongst sewage due to the lack of running water and sanitation; a scenario that seems more reminiscent of stories we’ve heard about Victorian London as opposed to something that is still a reality for millions.
Though countries such as India have taken steps to increase access to running water across all areas of the country, many rural areas still have barely enough clean water for drinking, let alone for sanitation or toilet facilities, with only 33% of the country having access to traditional sanitation.
Out in the Open
One of the most severe problems facing countries with a lack of running water and sanitation facilities is the use of open spaces for defecation and dumping of human waste. In the majority of cases, this is due to a lack of plumbing, but this is not always the issue facing local and national governments.
In countries where toilet facilities are being introduced in an attempt to improve the standard of living, many families and households are reluctant to embrace the lifestyle adaptations and building work necessitated, as they do not necessarily understand the importance of working toilets and their health benefits.
Just like dirty drinking water, however, open defecation can have severe health implications, including increasing the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, as well as leading to malnutrition because of the lack of appetite that these conditions induce.
Diarrhoea alone causes the death of over 400,000 people every year with low and middle-income countries, with children under the age of 5 disproportionately affected.
What Can Be Done to Help?
Despite them being indispensable for us in this part of the world, the sad truth is that only 14% of the world’s population has access to toilets or latrines where the waste is disposed of on the spot. World Toilet Day was created specifically for the purpose of raising awareness of the disparities in sanitation standards worldwide, and for helping provide millions of people with the most basic of sanitation needs.
In aid of this important occasion, we at VR Sani-Co, as well as the other members of the Independent Washroom Services Association (IWSA) have been supporting the charity Toilet Twinning; a cause dedicated to providing toilets and dignity to countries and communities all over the world.
Their motto – “flush away poverty, one toilet at a time”- is based around an innovative idea to raise funds by encouraging people to “twin” their toilet with one in the communities the charity works with. Not only does the charity help provide safe sanitation facilities, it also works with local communities to educate them on the importance of hygiene and specifically good toilet hygiene.
Twinning a toilet costs £60 and the IWSA have proudly twinned with 27 toilets around the globe. With World Toilet Day having passed recently and the promise of a new year upon us, now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the facilities that so many of us take for granted. Toilet Twinning can be a unique and thoughtful gift for a friend or family member that is passionate about the cause, or a fantastic way to get your workplace or school involved in a fundraiser at this time of year.
If you would like to get involved or find out more about Toilet Twinning, visit their website at https://www.toilettwinning.org/
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