We use them every day – at home, school, work, restaurants, shopping malls – yet we seldom talk about them. The silence around the issue of toilets and sanitation has deadly consequences.

Despite compelling evidence that shows the benefits and great returns of investing in sanitation, it continues to be an ‘unglamorous’ subject for many policy-makers. The area of water (an equally important subject), on the other hand, receives more funding and attention on the global development agenda.

 

This is slowly changing. In 2015, the United Nations came out with its new global agenda and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030. Its sixth goal calls for the end of open defecation and adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all. This is an ambitious goal but one that we are striving to achieve given the detrimental consequences that arise from inadequate sanitation.

Around one billion people in our world today face the indignity of defecating in the open. A lack of clean and safe toilets at schools leads to higher dropout among girls once they reach puberty. Diarrhoeal diseases – a direct consequence of poor sanitation – kill more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

Clean and safe toilets are prerequisites for health, dignity, privacy and education.

The World Toilet Organization was established with the aim to break the taboo around toilets and the sanitation crisis. Since 2001, we have lobbied governments, public and private sector stakeholders and the international community to prioritize sanitation in the development agenda.

Through our initiatives – World Toilet Day, World Toilet Summit, World Toilet College and SaniShop – we continue to mobilise an international network of partners, supporters, donors, governments and international organisations to advocate for effective sanitation policies to ensure health, dignity and well-being for everyone, everywhere.