The 13th session of the annual World Toilet Summit was held in Solo (Surakarta), Indonesia from 2 October to 4 October. The three-day summit in the Central Java city of Solo officially closed on Friday with the Solo Declaration. The declaration highlighted the importance of building and strengthening partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels on sanitation issues.
The five-point declaration called for greater awareness of cultural, religious and socio-economic circumstances as well as the needs of different groups, including urban and rural communities, women, children, the elderly and the disabled.
The summit was attended by delegates from 19 countries. At the three-day summit, lack of public toilets and open defecation were among issues highlighted.
In Indonesia, 63 million people practice open defecation because they have no access to basic sanitation facilities, said Naning Adiwoso, chairwoman of the Indonesian Toilet Association.
“For many people in Indonesia, mobile phones are more important than toilets,” Adiwoso said. “People defecate in the backyards and think that nature will take its course.”
“There’s a widespread lack of awareness about the importance of sanitation,” she said.
Adiwoso said in Jakarta some households do not have toilets and public restrooms are hard to find.
“There are hardly any toilet maps in Jakarta and the few public toilets are in terrible condition,” she said.
Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, added, “Without good toilets, tourism can’t thrive. Toilets are part of the holiday experience.”
The World Toilet Summit is an annual event of the World Toilet Organization that was established by Sim, a Singaporean tycoon, in 2000. Surakarta was chosen to host the summit following a meeting between Naning and then Surakarta mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, now Jakarta governor, in 2012.
Find out more about the World Toilet Summit.