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Today, toilets remain a luxury throughout the world: about 900 million people still practice open-air defecation.
Without toilets and adequate sewage systems, diarrhea that can lead to malnutrition and even death threaten populations and more specifically children. However, this public health issue remains taboo.
Every year, on November 19th, the World Toilet Day is an opportunity to raise awareness in communities about this crucial and still tricky issue.
Without toilets and safe sanitation systems, uncaptured and untreated human feces can contaminate soils and water sources. The population is therefore in contact with pathogens that can potentially cause deadly diseases. More than 840 000 people, including 340 000 children under five perish each year due to lack of appropriate sanitation facilities and clean water. Furthermore, 50% of child malnutrition is caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices.
Today, the United Nations have acknowledged the access to safe water and sanitation as a fundamental right. This embodies the sixth Sustainable Development Goal.
As toilets are a prerequisite to proper hygiene practices, health, dignity, security, and even economic growth, Action contre la Faim is carrying out work in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in most of its field missions. These activities reach about 6,2 million people throughout the world, through, for instance, guaranteeing access to drinking water, latrines, wells and water networks , or the management of human excrement.
In some countries such as Nepal or Myanmar, Action contre la Faim has started within its programs to pay specific attention to the first thousand days of a baby’s life. For example, this includes the distribution of parents/children hygiene kits and potties and raising parents’ awareness of the potential hazards of children under-five’s feces. Indeed, contrary to common belief, a baby’s excrements contain more pathogens and thus pose a greater risk to the community’s health.
In order to challenge the public on sanitation issues, Action contre la Faim has decided to launch a communication operation in the streets of Paris. During the week of November 19th, Parisian passers-by will be able to see the well-known “Poo” emoticons tagged in several spots of Paris, embodying open-air defecation, a dangerous practice that is still too widespread in many countries.
For further information on the World Toilet Day and on sanitation issues: