Today is World Toilet Day. This may sound strange at first, but behind this headline lies a very serious issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, more than 4.2 billion people worldwide are living without access to clean and safe toilets. More than 673 million have no access to sanitation facilities. Contaminated drinking water and insufficient hygienic conditions enable outbreaks of dangerous diseases such as cholera and are the second largest cause of child mortality. People in areas affected by crisis and conflict are particularly hard-hit, along with poorer rural populations and the inhabitants of slums.
Humanitarian assistance: working to ensure access to sanitation facilities
One of the areas covered by humanitarian assistance is getting people access to clean drinking water and safe toilets. Every year, the Federal Foreign Office supports more than 130 projects to build water points, latrines and sewage lines.
For example, one project funded by the Federal Foreign Office is run by the organisation Action Against Hunger in Fangak County in the eastern part of South Sudan, a country that is suffering from armed conflicts. The building of latrines has significantly improved the local population’s access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
Germany’s WASH network, which was established in 2011, brings together German humanitarian assistance and development organisations in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene. It is a strong civil-society interest group that facilitates the ongoing exchange and building of knowledge as well as important public relations work. With support from the Federal Foreign Office, the German WASH network strengthens both German and local aid organisations that are active in countries affected by crises. Particularly in crisis situations, standards must be observed – and this is certainly the case for sanitation facilities.
World Toilet Day
In 2013, the United Nations decided to declare 19 November World Toilet Day to draw attention to this issue. It is meant to increase awareness of the problem and to improve access to clean and safe sanitation facilities for all.