A toilet is one of the most important places that is normally taken for granted. Proper toilets provide human dignity and self-confidence giving people a head start in life. A toilet plays a very important role in creating a powerful economy as well as enhancing the health and preserving the dignity of safety of people, particularly girls and women.
Annually on 19 November, the world comes together to highlight the importance of toilets and proper sanitation by celebrating World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day also highlights the importance of a proper toilet for human dignity and health and inspires action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 which promises sanitation for all by 2030. The SDG 6 has a target to eliminate open defecation and ensure everyone has access to sustainable sanitation services by 2030, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. SDG 6 calls for adequate sanitation, which includes the system assuring that waste is safely processed.
This year, World Toilet Day is celebrated under the theme is “Leaving No One Behind” to draw attention to those multitudes of people being left behind without proper sanitation. The theme emphasizes the importance of expanding sanitation access to more people living without safely managed toilets. The theme simply means we must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind. highlighting the serious importance of a proper toilet when nature calls. The theme also emphasizes the importance of a toilet for human health and a healthy environment.
It is estimated that around 4.2 billion people in the world are living without safely managed sanitation services and often face many forms of discrimination. They are often left behind as they try to access and manage sanitation services or improve their current facilities and situations. The theme therefore is a call to take action and help those billions of people out of the unhealthy conditions and preserve their dignity.
A toilet is not just a toilet, it’s a life saver, dignity protector and opportunity maker. Toilets save lives because human waste spread diseases so it is crucial that people have access to proper and dignified toilets to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. The spread of various diseases in children like diarrhea can be related and directly connected to the exposure to the feces of humans. Lack of proper toilets leads to the death of children, so let us all play a role and contribute to providing proper sanitation for all. Governments cannot do it alone, so we must all come together and join governments as businesses, communities and individuals.
Lack of toilets and proper sanitation affects the quality of water in our water resources thereby leading to waterborne diseases and leading to increased loss of precious lives. The negative effect on water quality not only affects human, but also livestock, aquatic life and the environment at large.
Sanitation challenges are mainly experienced in rural and informal settlements, therefore it is critical that more focus is placed in these areas to ensure the elimination of inequalities in access and use which undermine progress. Lack of toilets and proper sanitation facilities and open defecation takes its toll on the dignity and safety of humans, especially girls and women and exposes them to assault and rape.
Toilets give people dignity as the saying says that sanitation is dignity, so let us all be responsible and use toilets in a responsible manner and always leave them in a condition that will make us happy to use a public toilet.
A toilet is not just a toilet, it plays a crucial role in how healthy and successful you are. As we celebrate World Toilet Day on 19 November annually, let us always remember the billions of people throughout the world who do not have access to proper toilets and sanitation facilities and play a part in uplifting them from the dire situation they currently find themselves. Lack of sanitation access has a negative impact on the dignity, safety and health of people, so play your part in ensuring that everyone has access to proper sanitation facilities and services.
Help break the taboo of a toilet by talking about it with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours and spread awareness on the significance of action towards sanitation. A toilet is not just a toilet, so play your part to ensure that no one is left behind in having access to a safe and dignified toilet and sanitation facility.
Sanitation is dignity!!!
Themba Khoza is the Department of Water and Sanitation, Mpumalanga Provincial Office Communications Manager responsible for all communications activities in the Mpumalanga Province.