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World Toilet Day 2022: Quick Facts about the Sanitation Crisis around the World

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Did you know that mobile phones are more readily available globally than toilets are?

According to UNICEF and the WHO, around 3.6 billion people around the world continue to have inadequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Even in Australia, 24% of the population lack access to safely managed sanitation, particularly in remote Indigenous communities. Everyone agrees that having access to clean water and sanitation should be a basic human right, yet governments around the world still struggle with the issue.

Why is this? According to the UN, discussing toilets is often seen as taboo and it’s time for that to change. Poor sanitation pollutes drinking water, rivers, beaches, and food crops, spreading dangerous diseases. Without toilets, there is no sustainable future, and governments must work—in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goalsto ensure that everyone has access to sanitary toilets by 2030. It is the responsibility of the public and private sectors to collaborate with underprivileged communities to develop sustainable sanitation solutions.

Sanitation facts for World Toilet Day

To help safeguard and maintain health security, everyone needs sustainable sanitation, clean water, and handwashing facilities. The theme of World Toilet Day, falling on 19 November 2022, is Making the Invisible Visible. We are urged to raise awareness of the need for action to address the sanitation crisis around the world as a matter of dignity, equality, and safety, and critical to improving one-third of the population’s health and well-being.

Here are some facts you probably didn’t know: 

  • 1.8 billion people drink water from faeces-contaminated sources. 
  • Toilets have added 20 years to the average human life over the last 200 years.
  • Toilets preserve the dignity, safety, and health of women and girls, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Over 700 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhoea every day caused by contaminated water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. According to UNICEF, 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die from diarrhoea each year.
  • Every dollar invested in water and sanitation leads to a $4.30 return in the form of lower healthcare expenses globally.
  • 673 million people living primarily in rural areas continue to defecate in public/open, such as in sewers, behind bushes, or in open water bodies.
  • It’s estimated that at least 10% of the world’s population consumes food irrigated by wastewater.
  • Safe sanitation, hygienic practices, and a reliable water source can save the lives of nearly 350,000 children each year.
  • An individual spends 1 hour and 42 minutes every week on the toilet, approximately 92 days in a lifetime.
  • The UN has set a goal to ensure that everyone has access to a household toilet by 2030.

Australia's role in promoting clean water and sanitation

So what role is Australia playing in this context? We can look at DFAT’s partnerships and funding for water initiatives in the Pacific, but as mentioned above, there are still parts of Australia that lack access to reliable drinking water and satisfactory sanitation. According to research by the Australian National University (ANU), more than 400 regional communities lack access to good-quality drinking water, with 8% not included at all in reporting on the issue. The suggestion is to create a coordinated national water database to support a newly established National Water Commission, after the last one was abolished in 2014.

Then there are the domestic issues that affect water sources around Australia, rising from industrial pollution and other practices such as irrigation. On a smaller scale the individual choices we make also have a bearing on the provision of adequate sanitation; take the fatbergs that have resulted from supposedly flushable wipes.

COS as a sustainable supplier

From the top down, we at COS aim to be a supplier that operates according to best practices with regards to the environment. In the spirit of World Toilet Day, if your business is looking for eco toilet rolls, toilet roll dispensers, or any other planet-friendly goods, check out our catalogue of cleaning supplies Cleaning supplies.

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