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Nature Based Solutions: World Toilet Day 2018

Nature Based Solutions: World Toilet Day 2018

Author -  Mohamed Fathima S, M.Sc
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on November 17, 2018 at 3:21 PM
  • World Toilet Day is observed on November 19 every year.
  • The Objective is to raise awareness and to inspire action to tackle the world sanitation crisis
  • The 2018 theme for World Toilet Day is ‘Nature based solutions’.

World Toilet Day is an official United Nations Observance day on November 19 to raise awareness and to inspire action to tackle the world sanitation crisis. It was established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001. UN-Water, an official convener of World Toilet Day maintains a website and chooses theme for every year. This year's theme for 2018 World Toilet Day is 'Nature based solutions'.

The Need for World Toilet Day

Toilets save lives because human waste can spread killer diseases. At present, 4.5 billion people live without safe toilets and 892 million people still practice open defecation. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 aims to ensure safe toilets for everyone and to stop open defecation by 2030. World Toilet Day was initiated to inform, engage and to inspire people to take action towards achieving this goal.

Theme for the year: 'Nature-based solutions'

This year's campaign is based on the slogan, 'When nature calls, we have to listen and act'. The human faeces, on a massive scale, are not being treated, and hence results in contamination of the soil and water that sustain human life. The environment thus turns into an open sewer. The toilets should be built in such a way that it harmonises with the nature and the ecosystem.

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Nature-based Sanitation solutions (NBS) helps treat human waste before it returns to the environment and protects the vegetation, soil and wetlands, including rivers and lakes. For instance:
  • Composting latrines that capture and treat human waste on site can produce free supply of fertiliser to help grow crops.
  • Human-made wetlands and reed-beds can filter waste water before it is released back into water sourses.

Facts on Global Sanitation Crisis

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF):
  • Around 60% of the global population - 4.5 billion people - either have no toilet at home or one that doesn't safely manage excreta.
  • 862 million people worldwide still practise open defecation - this means human faeces, on a massive scale, is not being captured or treated.
  • 1.8 billion people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from faeces.
  • One third of schools worldwide do not provide any toilet facilities - a particular problem for girls during menstruation.
  • 900 million schoolchildren across the world have no handwashing facilities - a critical barrier in the spread of deadly diseases.
  • Globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.

Indian Scenario of Sanitation Crisis

Around 550 million people or 70% of people living in villages and 13% of urban households in India defecate in the open. The problem of open defecation in India is more common than in other poorer countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Burundi and Rwanda.

Building toilets alone cannot end open defecation, reveals a study (2014). The study revealed a preference for open defecating by the people and merely providing latrine access without promoting latrine use is unlikely to reduce open defecation.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to build more than 100 million toilets in the country to end the practice of open defecation. But, many believe that the plan will not be effective in curbing the practice unless it is accompanied by a massive awareness campaign by the government, non-profit groups and citizens.

Events happening during World Toilet Day

A range of activities and events happen across the globe on the eve of World Toilet Day. Many organizations have released toilet-related reports on this day. Some of the major events that will happen this year on World Toilet Day are as follows:
  • On November 19th every year, WHO, SuSanA (Sustainable Sanitation Alliance) and UN-Water World Toilet Day Task Force will host an open webinar to discuss the new guidelines, the recommendations provided, the key insights, and the role of the health sector.
  • A 10- meter inflatable toilet will be installed in front of the United Nations Office of Geneva.
  • Presentations and panel discussions on World Toilet Day conducted by the Engineers Without Borders Denmark and Water DTU.
  • Screening of the film 'Toilet: A Love Story' at the University of Waterloo.
  • Mass awareness campaign, mass toilet sanitation and sports competition will be held at Solidarités International in Ngala Base.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission announced World Toilet Day contest across states and districts in India.
  • Ecosan Services Foundation will conduct a series of technical workshops catering to several areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) on the 18th of November in Mumbai.
  • On 25th October 2018, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section from UNICEF Hyderabad Field office for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana initiated Promotional Activities on World Toilet Day. Swachhta - (Clean India Campaign) Volunteers working with tribal communities in remote villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangaga State are promoting World Toilet Day campaign. Both these caimpaigns will continue till November 19th.
  • SNEH Foundation in Pimpri-Chinchwad of Maharashtra, will hold a drawing competition for students of government schools on the topic 'World without toilets'.

As an individual, what is your role on World Toilet Day?

  1. Raising awareness about the posing health risks of open defecation and improper sanitary habits. Open defecation can lead to a range of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis.
  2. Joining the global movement of spreading the awareness of toilets and sanitation through social media.
  3. Becoming a toilet advocate: Having communication with the local representative or community leader about the functioning of public toilets in your locality, whether it is safe, clean, accessible and well-maintained. Knowing whether there are appropriate ratios of toilets for both men and women and making complaints if necessary is important.
  4. Donating or offering monetary support to the non-profit or community help organizations that involve in building public toilets and human waste management.
  5. By taking part in rallies, campaigns and other programs that spread awareness about health hazards of open defecation.


Scientists and engineers around the world should develop effective sanitation solutions that are affordable and useful to billions of people who do not have proper useable toilets. As Bill Gates says, "A toilet not only makes your life more comfortable, getting rid of that waste is key to human health."

References :
  1. World Toilet Day: 19 November - (http://www.un.org/en/events/toiletday/)
  2. World Toilet Day - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Toilet_Day)

Source: Medindia
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