Published on 19th November 2016
Today is World Toilet Day. While the subject matter might seem slightly comical, the point behind the day is a serious one.
World Toilet Day was conceived by the United Nations in 2013, to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis. The World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that around 2.4 billion people across the globe don’t have access to a safe and hygienic place to go to the toilet. That’s more than a third of the world's population!
The theme of World Toilet Day 2016 is ‘toilets and jobs’, focusing on how sanitation, or the lack of it, can impact people’s livelihoods.
Sanitation is a global development priority, highlighted in Sustainable Development Goal #6: Access to clean water and sanitation for all. This global goal has an ambitious target of ensuring everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030. Meeting that target requires education and awareness surrounding the world sanitation crisis, using events such as World Toilet Day to highlight the challenges faced.
Volunteer Service Abroad works closely with partner organisations like World Vision, Downer, ADRA and GHD to place New Zealand volunteers on key WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and infrastructure projects across the wider Pacific. In the 12 months to 30 June 2016, VSA volunteers worked on projects that provided 2,323 people with new or improved access to sanitation facilities and 2,218 people with new or improved access to safe drinking water.
In countries such as Solomon Islands, improvements to water and sanitation can make a huge difference to the well-being of women and children in particular.
WASH Statistics in Solomon Islands
It's estimated that fewer than one in five people outside of the main cities in the Solomons have any kind of toilet, whether that's a long drop or a flushing toilet. This means that most of those people either use the forest, the beach or the rivers to go to the toilet. Water supply in local villages can be unreliable and this can often see women and children walking long distances to go to the toilet or collect dirty drinking water that might make them sick.
Women regularly report being attacked when walking alone to collect water or go to the toilet. This has an impact on their ability to earn an income. For children, illness can have an impact on how often they attend school and the lack of safe, private toilets at schools is one of the leading reasons for girls dropping out when they reach puberty, meaning they don’t reach the same levels of education as boys.
The picture above was taken by ex-volunteer Simon Trotter at a toilet block in a school in a remote area of the Solomon Islands, showing the reality of the sanitation situation in some areas of The Pacific.
Successful implementation of projects like WASH are vital to ensure communities have access to clean water, sanitation and good hygiene. Providing people with the basic necessities can play a surprisingly large role in determining whether they live happy, healthy lives.
How can you help?
You can help us try to meet the ambitious target of SDG Goal #6 by:
1) Donating to VSA - no matter how small, your donation helps us to fund volunteers to work with communities on vital projects like WASH across the wider Pacific.
2) Volunteering with VSA - Register your skills with us and be emailed volunteer roles in your field/s of expertise.
3) Sharing this post - Please share this post across your social media networks using the hashtag #WorldToiletDay to help raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis.