It may not be the most glamorous of subjects, but what would we do without our toilets? Well, for one in four around the world - that’s two billion people - living without a decent toilet of their own is normal. And it affects every aspect of life, from health to wealth and happiness.
Without decent toilets, disease spreads fast. When people have no choice but to go to the loo in the open, germs get into water and food, spreading diseases like diarrhoea and cholera. It’s also undignified to go without cover and unsafe, especially for women and children.
If people get unwell, they stop going to school and work. If girls have nowhere to manage their periods, they may miss a lot of school or drop out altogether.
On top of this, climate change is having a devastating effect. Extreme weather - such as severe flooding and droughts - is destroying sanitation systems and disrupting clean water supplies.
This leaves communities even more at risk, doubling the threat for those already most vulnerable.
Toilet Stories offer an intimate and very human view of the lives affected by a lack of this basic human right. More importantly, the stories show the extraordinary change that can take place in communities (and economies) when sanitation is given the right investment and profile.
Things are changing, slowly
Together we are making progress. In the last twenty years, 1.4 billion people have got a decent toilet. That means somewhere safe, private and clean to go to the loo. That also means more people can stay healthy, stay in school and work, and live with dignity. But, it’s not enough. At this rate, it will take many more decades before everyone, everywhere has a decent toilet. That’s a long wait for the loo!
What can you do?
When you need to go, you need to go, right? So it’s not ok that communities across the world don’t have this basic human right. Decent toilets, together with clean water and good hygiene, keep people safe, healthy and able to live their lives with dignity.
At WaterAid, we persuade governments and decision-makers that building and maintaining toilets is a great investment. Not only because everyone has the right to a toilet, but because they make a huge difference to people’s prospects.
But there will always be a missing voice in Toilet Stories. Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s over 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
So, let’s keep talking toilets. Share these stories and demand more because everyone, everywhere deserves a decent toilet of their own.
From our postcode to yours, thank you
Toilet Stories has been made possible by support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. If you play the People’s Postcode Lottery, you’re already supporting us and our mission to bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to everyone, everywhere. In 2019 alone, players raised £2.5m to bring these essentials to communities across Sub-Saharan Africa. This support has not only transformed millions of lives but - by supporting projects like Toilet Stories - is bringing life-saving decent toilets to global attention.
Read more about our partnership with People’s Postcode Lottery.