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World Toilet Day and the right to sanitation

Today is the inaugural World Toilet Day.

The United Nations News Centre notes, “World Toilet Day has previously been marked by international and civil society organizations all over the world. However, it was not formally recognized as an official UN day until now.”

The Associated Press reports (in the Globe and Mail) that, “The lack of access to a decent toilet is no joke for a third of the world’s people, but a matter of life and death. About 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation, the United Nations said, and more than 1 billion practice open defecation – a problem that contributes to countess deaths from preventable diseases.”

In her book Blue Future, Maude Barlow writes (on pages 34-35), “On the right to sanitation, the definition is clear. The special rapporteur has defined sanitation as ‘a system for the collection, transport, treatment and disposal or reuse of human excreta and associated hygiene’. To meet human rights requirements, sanitation must effectively prevent human, animal and insect contact with excreta, and toilets and latrines must provide privacy and a safe and dignified environment for all. They must be physically accessible, within reach or in the immediate vicinity of each household, educational institution, or workplace, and available for use at all times day or night, along with associated services such as the removal of waste water and latrine exhaustion.”

Barlow adds, “As well, they must be affordable, not reducing the individual’s or household’s capacity to acquire other essential goods and services such as food, education and health care. Finally, they must be culturally sensitive, using appropriate local technology and giving attention to gender sensitivity and the need for separate male and female public facilities.”

Further reading

NEWS: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs launch ‘water is a human right’ postcard campaign
NEWS: Occupy Regina says access to sanitation a human right
Ensuring Universal Access to Toilets as a Matter of Urgency
Community Led Total Sanitation: a stunning sanitation solution for Africa?