By Erica Gwynn, Water and Sanitation Area of Focus Manager
On 19 November, Mali celebrates the anniversary of their liberation from President Modibo Keita’s power. In Puerto Rico, 19 November marks the day Columbus discovered the island nation. There is only one holiday, however, that is recognized and celebrated globally on 19 November: World Toilet Day.
Why do we need a day for toilets? It’s 2015 and 2.4 billion people still do not have adequate sanitation: 1 billion people defecate in the open. According to the United Nations, poor sanitation and hygiene are at the heart of the world’s leading disease and malnutrition issues. Still, the subject of sanitation continues to receive little media attention and the current level of prioritization for world leaders is still far from what is needed, given the scale and impact of the sanitation crisis.
Much like the rest of the world, Rotarians are recognizing the limited impact of projects focused on the provision of water alone. As a result, the interest in sanitation and hygiene is growing, leading to a higher volume of service and global grant projects with integrated sanitation and hygiene components.
Through the very nature of Rotary and its vast networks of influence, the sanitation crisis is gaining momentum.
- Rotarians in India have responded to a call for action by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to participate in the national campaign, “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” (Clean India Mission). Rotary clubs throughout India have aligned their efforts to participate in this campaign, committing to provide comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene coverage in at least 10,000 government schools, every year, for at least two years.
- The Rotary Club of Kalisizo (Uganda) and the Rotary Club of Calgary (Canada) equipped 10 primary schools in Uganda with gender-segregated ventilated pit latrines as part of a more comprehensive program providing access to safe water and capacity building for school health clubs, water user committees, teachers, health inspectors and technicians. Rotarians are committing their time to monitor the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems installed in each school and all trainings outcomes, in order to share this information with local authorities.
Let us continue the momentum in Rotary around sanitation by participating in World Toilet Day. Raise your awareness of the lack of sanitation worldwide by reading It’s No Joke: The State of the World’s Toilets 2015. The rest is up to you! After all, it is the day to stand up (or sit down or squat if you prefer) and do something about it.
Continue the #WorldToiletDay celebration using #WorldToiletDay to share messages about #Rotary Water and Sanitation initiatives on Twitter and Facebook. Help inspire others by sharing club and district water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects on Rotary Showcase.