Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

World Toilet Day brings to light unsanitary conditions in developing nations

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At first, it seems like a slightly off-color joke - World Toilet Day. That's largely because in the industrialized west, functioning toilets, bathrooms and plumbing are a given. That's certainly not the case in many developing nations, where human waste is frequently found in the open, left by people who have no access to latrines. This is a major factor of disease in the Third World.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's estimated that about 2.5 billion people globally lack access to safe, affordable sanitation. It's estimated that one billion are forced to defecate openly in public places, according to the United Nations.

World Toilet Day, commemorated this past Monday, is intended to raise awareness of the serious nature of this worldwide problem.

Adding to this urgency is the fact that more than 2.7 million people die each year because of a lack of sanitation. Most of these people are less than five years of age.

Catarina de Albuquerque, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, spoke to journalists in Geneva last week about this widespread concern.

"Access to sanitation facilities around the world, more than any other service, provides a window into the vast difference between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots,'" said de Albuquerque.

According to the non-governmental organization WaterAid, one in three women worldwide has no access to a decent toilet, increasing their risk of illness, harassment and even physical attack.

People in Third World or developing nations suffer the most from unsanitary conditions and a lack of proper toilet facilities. Disease such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A are easily and commonly spread when people defecate in the open.

An estimated 80 percent of untreated wastewater in developing countries flows back into lakes, oceans and drinking water sources, which is a major cause of diarrhea among children. 

Health officials say that the scale of the problem is not being adequately addressed. At current rates of progress it will be 350 years before everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa gets access to safe sanitation, says WaterAid.

"With around 2,000 children under the age of five dying every day from diarrhea, brought about through unsafe sanitation, dirty water and poor hygiene, we need to step up the global efforts to tackle what is the second biggest killer of children worldwide," Barbara Frost, WaterAids's chief executive says.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)