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892 million people still practise open defecation – on World Toilet Day :19 November

892 million people still practise open defecation – on World Toilet Day :19 November

World Toilet Day, on 19 November, is about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet. We cannot accept this situation. Sanitation is a global development priority. This is why in 2013 the United Nations General Assembly officially designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN Water in collaboration with governments and relevant stakeholders. The theme of World Toilet Day 2018 is ‘When Nature Calls’.

The Sanitation Crisis

Toilets save lives, because human waste spreads killer diseases. World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

The world is not on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6): to ensure availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030. Today, 4.5 billion live without a safe toilet and 892 million people still practise open defecation.

The impact of exposure to human faeces on this scale has a devastating impact upon public health, living and working conditions, nutrition, education and economic productivity across the world.

SDG 6 aims to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet and that no-one practises open defecation by 2030. Failure to achieve this goal risks the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

2018 Theme: When Nature Calls


This year’s campaign is based on the following narrative: “When nature calls, we need a toilet. But, billions of people don’t have one. This means human faeces, on a massive scale, are not being captured or treated – contaminating the water and soil that sustain human life. We are turning our environment into an open sewer. We must build toilets and sanitation systems that work in harmony with ecosystems.”

Nature-based Sanitation Solutions

Nature-based sanitation solutions (NBS) harness the power of ecosystems to help treat human waste before it returns to the environment. Most NBS essentially involve the protection and management of vegetation, soils and/or wetlands, including rivers and lakes.

For instance:

  • Composting latrines that capture and treat human waste on site, producing a free supply of fertiliser to help grow crops.
  • Human-made wetlands and reed-beds filter wastewater before it is released back into water courses.

By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals aim to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse.

For that to be achieved, we need everyone’s poo to be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way. Today, for billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective. Human waste gets out and killer diseases spread, meaning progress in health and child survival is seriously undermined.

The poo journey

If there’s one thing that unites humanity, it’s the call of nature. But depending on where we live, it’s not always possible to dispose of our bodily waste safely and responsibly.

To achieve SDG 6, we need everyone’s poo to take a 4-step journey:

  1. Containment. Poo must be deposited into a hygienic toilet and stored in a sealed pit or tank, separated from human contact.
  2. Transport. Pipes or latrine emptying services must move the poo to the treatment stage.
  3. Treatment. Poo must be processed into treated wastewater and waste products that can be safely returned to the environment.
  4. Disposal or reuse. Safely treated poo can be used for energy generation or as fertilizer in food production.

To take action and join the global movement, please go to

Top facts:

  • 2.4 billion People live without improved sanitation (World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF 2015).
  • One in ten people has no choice but to defecate in the open (WHO/UNICEF 2015).
  • Diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year (WAS-Hwatch 2016).
  • Disease transmission at work mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths (International Labour Organisation (ILO) 2003).
  • Loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP (Hutton 2012)
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Vijay Gupta
Vijay Gupta1097 posts

State Awardee, Global Winner

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