Public toilets in India can be basic. Photo: iStock/Getty Images
Public toilets in India can be basic. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

World Toilet Day, on November 19, is about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet. This year, the theme of “toilets and jobs” focuses on how sanitation, or the lack of it, can impact on livelihoods.

  • Worldwide, some 2.5 billion people still lack the benefits of adequate sanitation, according to the UN.
  • The benefits from providing toilets in rural areas where people practice open defecation are estimated at five to seven times the costs (Hutton 2015).
  • In sectors such as the garment industry, the global workforce is 80% female (Business for Social Responsibility 2010). Investing in good toilets in workplaces and schools so that women and girls have clean, separate facilities to maintain their dignity, and to manage menstruation or pregnancy safely, can boost what is often referred to as the “girl effect”: maximizing the involvement of half the population in society (Girl Effect 2015).
  • Diarrhea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene is linked to 50% of child undernutrition, which can lead to stunted physical and mental development (WHO 2008).
  • The global demand for water and sanitation services is worth over US$50 billion (Freedonia 2013), so there is a massive demand waiting to be met. Treating sanitation provision as a long-term business opportunity, as well as a fulfillment of people’s rights, could help speed up progress and attract investment.

Source: World Toilet Day fact paper