World Toilet Day is coming up on November 19 and with it, a unique invitation to imagine life without something so fundamental as a toilet. Most of you reading this piece probably have indoor plumbing with hot and cold water and underground septic systems. But, the reality is that worldwide, 1 in 3 people lack toilet facilities. Over half of the world’s population — 4.2 billion people — lack safe sanitation. Most horrifying of all, a child under 5 dies every 90 seconds because of a lack of access to clean water and sanitation.
There are many different types of toilets in the world — from porcelain European-style indoor toilets to “VIP,” or Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines, to squat toilets — the cultural variants to toilets abound. But the need for toilets is the same, and the opportunity toilets provide is elemental to human flourishing.
So, ahead of World Toilet Day, we invite you to imagine life without a toilet. Imagine being a young girl walking to a shared bathroom at night, having to use a communal toilet amid a pandemic, having to pay exorbitant fees to use sanitation facilities, not being able to remain hygienic during a menstrual period, having to use a bucket indoors at night because it’s too dangerous to walk outside. Lacking a toilet is much more than lacking convenience; it’s lacking safety, health, and comfort.
Around the world, 80% of wastewater flows back into the natural environment without being treated or reused. Improved site sanitation provides innumerable benefits; it can enable girls to stay in school, improve children’s and families’ health, reduce risks of violence at shared toilets, improve ecosystem functions, and provide greywater through wastewater treatment plants.
Water is an enabler for life, but it can also be a destroyer of life. Water is wellbeing.
At EcoCiv and through our W12+ Programs, we seek to catalyze sustainable solutions to pervasive issues of water scarcity, particularly in urban areas around the world.
W12+ is a multifaceted movement for global water solutions. W12+ Programs include events, research, facilitation, and capacity building. W12+ aims to bridge existing gaps between high-visibility business events, rigorous research, and on-the-ground experience; W12+ rejects traditional silos and breaks down barriers to water solutions.
W12+’s distinct focus is on catalyzing partnerships to adapt and replicate existing solutions to pervasive water issues. It maintains that solutions exist and hope is paramount.
The future of water is clear; the time for action is now!