Today marks the United Nations officially designated World Toilet Day, which aims to shine the spotlight on communities living without basic
It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet – despite the human right to water and sanitation.
Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.5 billion people do not have improved sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Women and girls risk rape and abuse because they have no toilet that offers privacy.
Deljana Iossifova, Lecturer in Urban Studies at The University of Manchester, is an expert in the field of cities and the impact that poor sanitation has on the life of residents.
She said: “In the sanitised cities of the UK it is all too easy to overlook the fact that people living elsewhere in the world do not have the privilege of the most basic human rights to water and sanitation.
“One in seven people still defecate in the open and almost three in seven do not have access to improved sanitation.
“Most recently my work has focused on Shanghai – an example of a city which has been transformed, thanks to extensive urban renewal programmes, over the past decades. There is even an app directing residents and visitors to modern, Western-style toilets. But pockets of deprivation and old neighbourhoods remain where occupants practice sanitation in ways dismissed as old-fashioned and inappropriate, such as the cumbersome act of carrying night pots to be emptied at waste collection stations, sometimes several hundred meters away.
“The knock –on effect of isolating these members of the population, particularly the large proportion of senior citizens living in these neighbourhoods, should not be underestimated.
“Sanitation is a global development priority and it is vital that the international community works to deliver the rights and facilities that we take very much for granted to these communities.”