World Toilet Day, observed Nov. 19, called much needed attention to global sanitation problems. Pioneered by the United Nations (UN), the day invited global citizens to educate themselves and take action. The World Toilet Organization established the event in 2001, which was subsequently declared a UN international observance day in 2013. The UN made the 2017 observance day’s official theme wastewater.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed said, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for ending open defecation and working towards universal access to safely managed sanitation services and safely treated wastewater. This means everyone should have access to a basic toilet facility and a system to safely dispose of and treat waste. World Toilet Day gives sanitation the attention it deserves.” The 2030 Agenda included Sustainable Development Goal 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
According to the UN, nearly 900 million people worldwide practice open defecation out of necessity and less than 40% of the population has access to safely managed sanitation services. The Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the necessity for efficient sanitation systems that not only provide an outlet for waste, but include safe treatment and disposal.