With holidays and recognition days as random as “Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day” (January 22nd) and “Stick Out Your Tongue Day” (July 19th), it would be understandable to assume that “World Toilet Day” (November 19th) is just another funny namesake. Yet with 3.5 billion people worldwide living without safe toilets and 419 million people practicing “open defecation”— meaning they have no choice but to defecate in streets, gutters, or bushes — this health crisis is anything but a joke.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 was established in 2015 with the target of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. It states that the pace of progress will need to accelerate five times over to meet the 2030 goal.
According to United Nation Water’s World Toilet Day, disease related to lack of proper sanitation kills 1,000 children under the age of five every day. The World Health Organization reports 1,245,000 deaths per year in low- and middle-income countries. Many more are sickened by wastewater-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, intestinal worms, polio, and malnutrition.
Before you write off this condition as one in far-off, developing lands, you need to know that it is happening here, in the United States. Rural areas rely on onsite wastewater treatment like septic tanks and leach fields. These systems frequently fail, and it is estimated that up to 65 percent of U.S. land is inconducive to septic systems due to clay and other geologic conditions…
“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.” —William Arthur Ward