By Claudia Urbano, Service and Engagement Senior Communications Specialist at Rotary International
Do you have access to a clean and safe toilet? Not everybody is so fortunate. Millions of people relieve themselves in the open air because they do not have access to a toilet, which spreads disease and kills thousands of children every day. World Toilet Day is held every year on 19 November to celebrate toilets, raise awareness of the billions of people living without access to safely managed sanitation, and take action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. This crisis profoundly impacts public health, educational attainment, economic productivity, and environmental integrity. For women and girls, the indignity, inconvenience, and danger of not having access to safely managed sanitation is a barrier to their full participation in society.
Rotary members work to bring sustainable sanitation systems and hygiene management training to communities worldwide. These are some of the ways they do it:
- In El Salvador, the Rotary Club of San Salvador Maquilishuat organized a project titled TOILETON. It provided three public schools in El Salvador with appropriate toilets and sinks for each gender as well as an appropriate solid waste management system. Hygiene management training for teachers, students, and community members was a critical project component.
- In 2019, the Tokyo-Higashi-Edogawa Rotary Club in Japan partnered with the Akha Tribe in Thailand to equip the local community with water purification systems and water management best practices. Since 2020, the Haramachi Chuo Rotary Club in Japan continues to partner with the Akha community on projects that will provide access to clean and safe toilets and strengthen hygiene practices.
- In Ghana, the Rotary Clubs of Cape Coast-Central, Obuasi, and the E-Club of District 7040-Premier (Canada) are partnering to provide boreholes and Microflush toilets in the Obuasi area, which will impact more than 25,527 lives.
- In the Philippines, the Rotary Club of Intramuros-Manila, in collaboration with their international partner, the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay (Australia), installed toilets in the Aeta communities of Flora, Kawayan, and Babo. The new facilities were coupled with community workshops on hygiene practices.
This year, World Toilet Day focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater. Inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes, and soil, polluting the water resources under our feet. However, this problem seems to be invisible because it happens underground, in the poorest and most marginalized communities. Groundwater is our most abundant source of freshwater. It supports our drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry, and ecosystems. We must protect natural water sources from pollution and use them sustainably, balancing the needs of people and the planet. The central message of World Toilet Day 2022 is that safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution. Encourage your club and district to get involved by:
- Organizing a water, sanitation, or hygiene (WASH) project in your community. Collaborate with the Water and Sanitation Rotary Action Group (WASH RAG) for help conducting a community assessment to determine local WASH priorities.
- Reading the Guide to WASH in Schools to learn about creating healthier communities while improving school enrollment and attendance by bringing sanitation and hygiene services to schools.
- Learning about best practices for WASH projects through Rotary’s partnership with USAID.
- Supporting an existing WASH project. View a list of projects seeking support on the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Rotary Action Group website.
- Sharing about projects you have already implemented on Rotary Showcase.
Thank you for joining us to raise awareness of the lack of sanitation worldwide and the importance of clean and safe toilets and hygiene practices to save lives and our groundwater systems.