Today marks World Toilet Day - a day set aside to raise awareness about the global sanitation crisis. It is a crisis revolving around the lack of access to toilet facilities among the majority of the world’s people, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation.
It is the 15 celebration since the inaugural World Toilet Summit was held on the 19 of November 2001 by the newly-established World Toilet Organisation (WTO). With a commitment to eliminate the toilet taboo, WTO is a global non-profit organisation that provides a common platform for stakeholders to connect, share, learn and collaborate to meet global targets for sanitation. This commitment continued to gain international support, and then in July 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted the Sanitation for All Resolution and formally designated 19 November as World Toilet Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Better sanitation for better nutrition’. The aim is to draw attention to the importance of toilets to support better nutrition and improved health, especially for children. This is because a lack of access to basic toilets and clean water, and the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition.
According to UNICEF, over 800 children die every day due to preventable diaorrhea diseases caused by a lack of access to these basic needs. And, currently, there are 2.4 billion people who do not use a basic toilet, and almost 1 billion people who defecate in the open (popularly known in Ghana as free-range).
The statistics for Ghana are equally staggering -- five million people do not have access to any toilet facilities, and 20 million do not have access to basic improved sanitation. Poor sanitation is costing the country over US$290million yearly, while open defecation is costing a whopping US$79million.
Below are some statistics about Ghana’s toilet system and sanitation
About 90% of faeces produced daily in Ghana is unhygienically disposed in water bodies,open spaces/non functional treatment plants
Ghana needs over 90,000 new household toilets constructed each year for the next 15years
Ghana loses GHc420million annually due to poor sanitation
16 million Ghanaians use unsanitary or shares latrines
4.8 million Ghanaians have no latrines at all and defecate openly
Open defecation costs Ghana $79million a year, yet eliminating the practice would require less than 1 million latrines to be built
Each person practicing open defecation spends almost 2.5days a year finding a private location to defecate