Campaigners urge investment in sanitation on World Toilet Day
The lack of suitable facilities is most marked in Africa and Asia.
Poor countries around the world are facing a dangerous shortage of toilets that puts millions of live at risk, according to campaigners marking World Toilet Day by urging governments and businesses to invest more in sanitation.
The toilet crisis is most severe in parts of Africa and Asia facing extreme poverty and seeing a population boom.
One in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets, the group WaterAid said in a new report to mark the UN-designated toilet day, observed on Monday, as part of efforts to end the global sanitation crisis.
An estimated 4.5 billion people across the world lack access to proper sanitation, said the report.
Some 2.5 billion among them do not have adequate toilets, according to UN figures.
The lack of toilets forces many to defecate in the open, in the streets, in the bushes and by rivers and other water sources.
Among the development goals set by the UN in 2015 is a target to ensure everyone has access to a safe toilet by 2030.
But campaigners warn this goal will be hard to meet if governments and businesses do not put more money into the sanitation economy.
The Crisis in the Classroom— UN-Water (@UN_Water) November 18, 2018
In anticipation of #WorldToiletDay, @WaterAid release their annual State of the World's #Toilets report, revealing the countries where children are struggling most to access a toilet at school and at home.https://t.co/PHoX2e2PCU pic.twitter.com/svY6ovpUKI
Sanitation is “the business of the decade,” said Cheryl Hicks, chief executive of the Geneva-based business group Toilet Board Coalition.
She said the group is urging commercial investment to help reduce toilet shortages in countries where governments cannot afford such infrastructure.
“Half the world needs toilets. They don’t have them because the infrastructure is too expensive for governments,” she said.
African countries are among the neediest.
"In many countries, the design, planning and management of public toilets continues to be a male-dominated field of work."— WaterAid International (@wateraid) November 19, 2018
So how can we make toilets female-friendly? https://t.co/CwHDyGcGNr#WorldToiletDay #HumanRights pic.twitter.com/fySSJqqzRM
The new report by WaterAid cites an estimated 344 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who lack a toilet at home, leaving them vulnerable to diarrhea and other water-borne infections.
In the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, one of 101 countries surveyed by WaterAid, eight in 10 schools there lack adequate toilet facilities.
The same study reported that 93% of households in the East African nation of Ethiopia lack a decent toilet.
For these young people, it’s normal to have to run home at breaktime to relieve themselves, use bushes on the school grounds, or miss lessons entirely because they are sick or on their period.— WaterAid International (@wateraid) November 19, 2018
This crisis is costing lives. Read more: https://t.co/CwHDyGcGNr pic.twitter.com/2dZ53ojfe9
Joel Ssimbwa, an entrepreneur who has put up two low-cost facilities in impoverished parts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said he launched his business in 2016 after several times he needed to ease himself but had “nowhere to go.”
In September 2007 a Ugandan politician told reporters he was “badly off” and helpless after being photographed urinating against a wall outside the Ministry of Finance in Kampala.
He was later charged and fined, despite protesting the lack of sanitation facilities nearby.
There are fewer than 20 free public toilets in Kampala, a city of over three million people.
Toilets in buildings across the city are often kept under lock and key, apparently to ward off unwelcome users.
Mr Ssimbwa acknowledged that the Shs300 (eight US cents) he charges may still be unaffordable to many, the reason he is working on a business model that would allow his clients to pay a uniform monthly fee instead of having to pay each time they check in.
“It is a drop in the ocean, but it creates awareness” of what the government and others must do, he said, talking about his services.