World Toilet Day, to save lives

World Toilet Day, to save lives

Heritage & Traditions

Cubaplus Magazine

Many consider things related to toilets are private, eschatological issues, which they prefer not to talk about. However, they are facilities that save lives, which is why the UN dedicates a special day to them annually, every November 19.

It has been a long time since human waste was thrown into the streets from urinals and in 1597 the poet John Harington invented the water closet in England, which could not be properly applied until the 18th century due to the lack of drainage and sewage systems.

But despite the years that have passed, the current situation is dire, with at least two billion people drawing from drinking water sources contaminated by faeces, leading to the spread of life-threatening diseases.

The UN General Assembly agreed in 2013 to celebrate World Toilet Day on November 19, in order to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation services.

Toilet, toilet, toilet, bowl, latrine ... these are terms used in various countries to designate spaces that must be recognized as essential, but which are a luxury for 673 million people who defecate in the open air, according to United Nations estimates.

Let's value toilets" is this year's theme of the conference, to underline that "toilets, and the sanitation systems on which they are based, are under-financed, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world, and this entails devastating consequences in multiple areas, especially in the poorest and most marginalized communities”.

The international body warns in this regard that daily more than 700 children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases caused by unhealthy water or poor sanitation or hygiene, and indicates that it is necessary to quadruple investments and apply innovations in the "sanitation chain", from toilets to transport, collection and treatment of human excrement.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), in the subregion, including the Caribbean, millions of people live in poverty and lack safely managed sanitation systems, some 15 million practice open defecation and one out of five lack access to some kind of facility to wash their hands.

Facing and resolving this reality is part of the sustainable development strategies of various countries, including Cuba, where the percentage of the population with access to improved water sources has risen to 97.7 and improved sanitation facilities to 99.4, according to official sources.