Today, November 19th, is World Toilet Day!!! And here is quote from The UN’s website about why they have decided to call a World Toilet Day.
What is World Toilet Day all About? Toilets save lives, because human waste spreads killer diseases. World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. World Toilet Day is celebrated on 19th November every year. It’s all about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which promises sanitation for all by 2030.”
How much do we think about our toilets [apart from when we need to clean them] and our indoor plumbing? It is a luxury we take for granted, especially when most houses in the West have more than one toilet. And we also take our public toilets at sea-sides, parklands, woodlands, shopping centres, etc for granted.
Or at least we did until lockdown. Here in the UK when lockdown eased and people started being able to travel a bit more they started visiting beaches, woodlands, going on hikes in areas they used to visit, but what they came to realise was that even though it was possible to visit these attractions now, many of the toilet blocks had not reopened. The media enjoyed sharing tales of human faeces being found in used McDonald boxes on the beach, or similar stories to gross people out. Why was this a story? Because, even though the first public toilet for both sexes did not come about until 1848 with the First Public Health Bill, in less than 200 years, we have got used to being able to use a public toilet whenever necessary. [The history of public toilets is fascinating and I would suggest you Google it to find out more, and also check out what it is like in your own country.]
As more was learned about disease and sewerage, houses were given their own toilets as opposed to a shared toilet at the end of a block of slum dwellings. I have lived in a few houses built between 1870-1930 where there is a building inside the walled backyard where a flushing toilet used to be. Those outhouse toilets have become garden sheds as indoor plumbing is now the accepted norm. The thought of having to go outside in the cold and wet makes me grateful that I can use an indoor loo. Although when travelling, I spent three months in a house in Greece, which I shared with three guys, with an outside toilet and dodgy plumbing, which help me to appreciate the luxury of indoor toilets and locks on doors.
At least this was my dodgy plumbed Greek toilet, inside our own backyard and I only had to share it with guys I knew. There are many women across the world who do not have this luxury. Whether it is day or night, light or dark, they have to use to a shared hole in the ground, often with no privacy or locks on the door, and definitely with no flushing sanitation. At night, this hole would be in the pitch dark where there are all kinds of dangers which would not encourage the women and girls to want to get up in the night; of being bitten by poisonousness insects and snakes; of falling in the dark and being injured and not found until morning; of being out alone where rape would be an often realised fear; of being kidnapped and sold by people traffickers. So the women and girls hold on, not going when their bladders tell them to, which increases the risk of urinary infections, which if left untreated, can lead to death.
Let us use today to give thanks for our indoor toilets and plumbing that we take so much for granted, BUT also to remember those who do not have those facilities and do something about it. It is so inexpensive to sponsor a toilet or a clean water tap and yet so often we do not think about. Both the toilets in my house sponsor toilets in the developing world via Toilet Twinning, and organisation with the strap-line “flushing away poverty one toilet at a time” and there are many other organisations that do the same. Here are two other examples TearFund and WaterAid but do a Google search to find others agencies in your country.
Let’s use today, World Toilet Day, to help those who are not blessed with what we take for granted.