World Toilet Day highlights struggle and innovation for a healthier planet

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November 19th is World Toilet Day. Created by the U.N. in 2013, the observance hopes to highlight a global sanitation crisis – and hopefully inspire action.

Here are a few facts:

The U.N. estimates 4.5 billion people worldwide don’t have access to proper sanitation.

Lack of toilets lead at least 892 million people to defecate in the open. This includes streets, bushes, and by rivers and other water sources.

One-eighth of the world’s secondary schools do not have toilets, which poses extra risks for young women during menstruation.

80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated.

An estimated 1.8 billion people consume untreated drinking water with no protection against contamination from human faeces.

Lack of toilets and sanitation are the leading cause of deadly water and soil borne diseases, including cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery and schistosomiasis.

Third world countries facing severe poverty and population growth, especially parts of Africa and Asia, are the hardest hit by this crisis.


In 2015, the U.N. created a Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6): to find solutions for sanitation and clean water for all by 2030.

The initiative is directed to both governments and business.

In India, where 40 percent of the population (550 million people) live without basic sanitation, the government’s Clean India Mission hopes to create 90 million household and community toilets by 2019.

The push by India and other nations has led to innovation, such as the composting toilets for agriculture, and a solar powered self cleaning toilet.

In November, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted the “Reinvented Toilet Expo” in Beijing.

Poop in hand, Bill Gates showcased China’s cutting edge toilet solutions that run independent of sewer systems, making them cheaper and easier to install in developing nations.

“China has an opportunity to launch a new category of innovated non-sewered sanitation solutions that will benefit millions of people worldwide.”

In recent years, China has made it a mission to improve toilet and sanitation systems for its nearly 1.4 billion citizens.

It’s an ongoing campaign President Xi Jinping has dubbed the “toilet revolution.”