2.5 billion People in the world do not have a clean toilet and almost half of this population still practice open defecation. Saying otherwise one in three people do not have a safe, clean and private toilet. The majority of them belong to Sub-Saharan Africa and Asian countries, and lives in rural areas without private place to defecate and urinate, compelled to use fields and bushes, ditches or railway tracks, or simply plastic bag. Without toilets, un-treated human waste can impact a whole community, affecting many aspects of daily life and ultimately posing a serious risk to health.
The issue runs deeper into societal impacts, such as teenage girls often leaving school at the onset of menstruation due to lack of privacy and the risk of attack or rape associated with being forced to defecate in the open during night fall. Illnesses that are a direct result of bad sanitation affect the quality of life of millions of people around the world, especially children. Diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.
A safe and clean toilet can be a stepping stone to a healthy life, greater human dignity, freedom, equality between women, men, girls and boys, and finally, a catalyst to the development of communities and countries.
Yet, in many parts of the world, including India, toilets are an unglamorous topic and talking about open defecation and its consequences is taboo. However, bringing clean toilets to those who are lacking them, is not a matter of breakthrough scientific technologies; it is foremost an issue of political leadership, plain speaking champions, raising awareness and hard work.
Here this becomes important to quote that, in 2010; the UN General Assembly recognized Sanitation and Water as a human right, essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. The human rights approach seeks to address inequalities by targeting the most vulnerable, such as women, children, and people with disabilities, the chronically ill or the poorest of the poor.
If the world is really serious about turning this right into a reality though, more and concerted action are needed. Not only politicians but also businesses, donors, development agencies, NGOs, media and communities will need to redouble their commitments and efforts.