The World Toilet Summit 2012, the first for Africa, was held December 3-6 in Durban, South Africa, to muster the individual and collective minds of academia, legal professionals, technical specialist, industry leaders, gender advocacy, civil society, governments, educators and all other role players in the fields of sanitation, education, health and hygiene and human rights.
The annual summit, aimed at highlighting the global sanitation crisis affecting billions of people globally, brings together non-profit organizations, government bodies, academia and other industry players to address the sanitation crisis that affects 2.6 billion people globally. The inaugural World Toilet Summit was held in Singapore and for the past 10 years, it has been held across the globe. Previous summits were held in Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Belfast, Moscow, Bangkok, New Delhi, Macau and Philadelphia.
There are millions of children around the world collecting dirty water on behalf of their families. A daily occurrence in the Kawempe District of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is that of a child carrying water through the slum, maneuvering his way through a maze of garbage, mud and human waste. A daily occurrence in the Kawempe District of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is that of a child carrying water through the slum, maneuvering his way through a maze of garbage, mud and human waste.
In another slum area near Kampala, Kifumbira, there are only four toilets for every 2,000 people. An area councillor has confirmed that at least three children die from diseases related to unsafe water and sanitation every month. Many others get very sick, mostly with chronic diarrhea, on a regular basis.
November 19 has been declared World Toilet Day to bring attention to 2.6 billion people worldwide, with no access to adequate sanitation. This day is marked to champion the right of people everywhere to have safe, clean and private disposal of human waste. . You may not realize but today, more people have access to a cell phone than a toilet. the global sanitation has reached a crisis point but it is rarely discussed as one of the world’s greatest challenges. Its deep effect on women’s safety and dignity is especially significant and far-reaching.
It is unfortunate that current aid is not reaching the people who need it most — particularly those living in poor rural communities and urban slums. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the estimated target of halving the proportion of people without sanitation is by 2015 and it is doubtful if it would be reached. That’s a long wait for a toilet!
Those of us who live in western countries don’t have to be told that good sanitation is important because it reduces the spread of diarrheal diseases that kill 4,000 children a day. Proper sanitation also yields great economic benefits due to increased productivity and savings on healthcare costs because improved health betters educational prospects of poor people and increases their attendance in schools. Besides preventing environmental pollution, Good sanitation is important for one’s dignity besides preventing environmental pollution.
So what is your, mine and everyone’s responsibility on World Toilet Day? First, it is the responsibility of every one to help raise awareness of the sanitation crisis facing the less fortunate people of the world. Learn more about the problem, share what you learn with others and support organizations that help the world’s most vulnerable communities gain access to clean water and sanitation.
Water Works, which believes that taps and toilets save lives, is one organization, which has responded to this global crisis. Governments of course have to be made aware of this basic human right; they should donate part of their foreign aid specifically to water projects so that those who are trapped in a life of poverty, disease and wasted opportunity can find a better living standard. Individually, ever citizen should write to his/her Member of Parliament urging them to support water projects in poorer areas. Individuals can also donate to this worthwhile cause through agencies working to solve water and sanitation deficiencies.
Gradually but firmly World Toilet Day is gaining ground. Last year, WTD was celebrated in over 19 countries with over 51 events being hosted by various water and sanitation advocates. With the voices of influential and powerful leaders of the world coming together, the World Toilet Summit brings an opportunity to bring hope to the 40 per cent of the world’s population needing proper sanitation. On a personal level, whenever you sit on the toilet, remember those who are not fortunate enough to have such nice porcelain toilet to sit on.