Sunday, 17 January 2021

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Pooh-poohing discussions about toilets is unwise

World Toilet Day dance

We’re talking toilets. A favourite for the many puns that can be made, yet World Toilet Day is an all too important topic to be taken lightly. 2.4 billion people live without proper sanitation, and one in ten people have no choice but to defecate in the open.

This year’s observance focuses on ‘toilets and jobs’ and the impact of sanitation -- or the lack of it -- on livelihoods and work environments.

At work, disease transmission mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices cause around 17% of all workplace deaths and the loss of productivity is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP

The sanitation problem is not restricted to developing countries. In Europe, while most Europeans take clean water for granted, 100 million people still do not have a household connection to drinking-water, and 67 million people have no access to improved sanitation and safe means to dispose of human faeces.

Faeces, more commonly called ‘Poo’, is not something most people like to talk about. Yet it's something we all produce a lot of. If all of the world's human waste were to be collected and used for biogas generation, the potential value could be as high as $9.5bn or enough to supply the electricity for 138 million households, the United Nations has calculated.

Biogas production is common in countries such as China, Sweden and Germany. Yet, despite obvious financial benefits, we’re struggling to get past deep cultural barriers to using our own waste1.

Until then there’s always poo mining – researchers in the US last year identified gold in waste from sewage treatment plants at levels which, if found in rock, would be considered worth mining2.

World Toilet Day is about raising awareness and inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis – a topic often neglected and shrouded in taboos.

Sanitation is a global development priority. Sustainable development goal 6 calls on the international community to ensure access to toilets by 2030.  Delivering on this basic human right -- the right to water and sanitation -- is good for people, business and the economy. We must continue working towards a world where everyone, everywhere, has adequate and equitable sanitation3.

UN-Water Video: This music video shows a world where poos are on the loose - creating a mess and spreading diseases in offices, hospitals and schools. What this town needs is a hero, so enter the Working Toilets to clean things up, making the poos dance to their tune! Share the video, do the dance, make your friends laugh, and get the message out that 'toilets work!'

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