What is World Toilet Day 2020 about?
The theme of World Toilet Day 2020 is sustainable sanitation and climate change. A well-functioning toilet is connected to a sanitation system that takes away and deals with human waste.
These systems need to work 24 hours a day, every day, to keep us and our living environments safe and clean. Today, the world’s toilets – and the sanitation systems they are connected to – are under threat from climate change. Flooding, drought and rising sea levels can damage any part of a sanitation system – toilets, pipes, tanks and treatment plants – spreading raw sewage and creating a public health emergency.
The effects of climate change are only becoming more frequent and more extreme. We must make our sanitation systems resilient, so they are sustainable as climate change gets worse. Billions of people live with weak and vulnerable sanitation systems, or no systems at all.
Climate change will disrupt or destroy sanitation services for huge numbers of people if we do not act. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera and typhoid.
How do toilets protect our health?
• Without safely managed, sustainable sanitation, people often have no choice but to use unreliable, inadequate toilets or practise open defecation.
Even where toilets exist, overflows and leaks from pipes and septic systems, and dumping or improper treatment, can mean untreated human waste gets out into the environment and spreads deadly and chronic diseases such as cholera and intestinal worms.
• Sustainable sanitation systems, combined with the facilities and knowledge to practise good hygiene, are a strong defence against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks. Hand hygiene is a lifesaver – regularly handwashing with soap and water or with alcohol-based rub is one of the most effective barriers to the spread of diseases.
• Improving access to sanitation and handwashing facilities in healthcare settings will reduce infection and mortality rates, particularly in maternal and child health.
Hygienic, private bathrooms with clean, running water, sinks and soap will help women and girls manage menstruation safely and with dignity.