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Melanie Nakagawa’s Blog

Time to Use Your Potty Mouth

Melanie Nakagawa

Posted November 19, 2008

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It's time to talk toilets, and more importantly, to learn about the sanitation crisis that leaves 2.5 billion people without access to a toilet every day. 

World Toilet Day Logo

Today, November 19, is World Toilet Day.  This is a day dedicated to raising awareness and taking action to address some grim statistics:

  • Nearly one billion children do not have access to a toilet
  • One child dies approximately every 20 seconds as a direct result of a lack of access to basic sanitation resulting in nearly 2 million preventable deaths each year.

Thankfully, we have the ability to help alleviate this crisis.  And the solutions don't require you to be a whiz kid to understand them.  In fact, low technology solutions like the waterless toilet and rainwater harvesting are cost-effective solutions that produce real results in terms of providing access to sanitary toilets, privacy and dignity.  This is particularly important for women who often drop out of school when they reach puberty because 75% of the developing world's schools do not have adequate sanitation facilities. 

Raising public awareness and promoting action by the U.S. to address the sanitation crisis have the additional benefit of helping economic and social development in countries where illness caused by poor sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days.  According to the World Health Organization, for every dollar spent on proper sanitation by governments generates on average $7 in economic benefit.

As a good friend once said, relief shouldn't be a disgrace.   You can do your part to help reduce the number of people without access to basic sanitation by learning more and sharing this information with your friends.  We need to be addressing this crisis now because improved sanitation decreases the incidences of such debilitating and deadly illnesses such as cholera, intestinal worms, diarrhea, pneumonia, and dysentery. 

So use your potty mouth! 

The more we talk about this problem, and the more our politicians and decision makers see that this issue needs to be taken seriously at the national level, the easier it will be to martial the appropriate resources to places where we can have a real impact.  It is time to ramp up our efforts and seek out the water crisis' "straight flush" which is to provide access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. 

Let's not let this problem continue to hide in the shadows and be overlooked.

Pictured below: Groups gathered today in Washington, D.C. on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to recognize World Toilet Day. 

 World Toilet Day in Washington DC

Photo credit: Water Advocates

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Danny BloomNov 21 2008 11:44 PM

Saw your comment over at Dot Earth and came here to read your good post. Very important, yes. Wonder if you have read this article titled "Environmentalist Suing National Governments for Crime Against Humanity"...

about an environmentalist suing national governments for US$1 billion on behalf of humanity in the International Criminal Court in The Hague

One blogger calls the lawsuit "ballsy". Adding: "That is perhaps best word to describe a class action lawsuit filed this week in the International Criminal Court in The Hague in Holland against national governments refusing to act on reducing carbon emissions. The suit was filed by climate activist Danny Bloom, 60, who is asking for US$1 billion dollars in damages on behalf of future generations of human beings on Earth - if there are any."

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