Raising Awareness about Proper Sanitation

November 18, 2012
Can you imagine not having a toilet? Neither can I. But about 2.5 billion people around the world do not even have a basic pit latrine. When I first heard about this problem, I thought about how unpleasant it would be not to have a toilet. I remember going camping in the woods—something I haven’t done since I was about 13 years old—and how, if I had to go without a toilet, I could. Of course I could. But then I found out that not having a toilet is a much bigger problem than just the lack of comfort and convenience. UNICEF estimates that 2 million children die every year from pneumonia and diarrhea—and these two illnesses can be largely prevented with safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene. Without proper toilets, water and the environment become contaminated, and diseases like diarrhea spread more rapidly. Every single day, diarrhea kills 2,000 children who are under five years old. Having a toilet, along with improving sanitation practices such as handwashing, can keep many of these children alive. Monday is World Toilet Day—yes, there is such a thing—which was created to raise awareness of the  huge need for proper sanitation, and to advocate for safe toilets. UNICEF supports community approaches to sanitation in 50 countries around the world. “The beauty of this approach is that solutions are not imposed from the outside,” says Therese Dooley, UNICEF's senior advisor on sanitation. “Communities themselves take the lead and identify their own measures to end open defecation. Only then can it work.” To learn more about World Toilet Day, visit www.worldtoiletday.org. If you would like to support UNICEF’s work in sanitation, please visit our donation page.