Land & Water

FAO celebrates the World Toilet Day on 19 November

Some 4.2 billion people do not have safe sanitation services and 673 million still practice open defecation globally. Mere access to water is not enough as we need quality water. The world is experiencing a sanitation crisis. Untreated human waste is spreading disease into water supplies and the food chain for billions of people, which poses health, environmental, and food-agriculture safety risk. Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 432,000 diarrheal deaths every year.

World Toilet Day is celebrated on November 19 to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve SDG 6, which calls for sanitation for all by 2030. World Toilet Day 2019 is drawing attention to the people that are left behind without access to sanitation. 

Solutions such as pollution prevention from source, treatment of waste and wastewater, and applying sanitation safety plans are important for water quality which impacts human and environmental health, food and agriculture supply chains.

The opportunities from a healthy and clean environment and clean water not only increases GDP but wastewater treatment produces bioenergy and electricity, the reuse of reclaimed water augments the water supply, and produces organic fertilizers (biosolids) thanks to its high nutrient content, which can create a new business and also enhances soil quality. Reclaimed water can be directed for recharging depleted groundwater aquifers to prevent land subsidence and seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers. Many agriculture and human benefit can derive from these solutions.

FAO has been working for years on exploring such solutions and on raising awareness on the negative impacts of the sanitation crisis on food security and safety. Some examples include: the International symposium on the use of nonconventional waters to achieve food security, organized by FAO on 14-15 November in Madrid, Spain, which brought together experts from around the world to discuss the use of nonconventional waters and share experiences on wastewater reuse and on other innovative solutions; the FAO publications on “More people, more food, worse water: a global review of water pollution from agriculture” and “The wealth of waste: the economics of wastewater use in agriculture” presenting an economic framework for the assessment of the use of reclaimed water in agriculture; the production of “Guidelines for the safe reuse of wastewater in agriculture and aquaculture”, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO); the creation of Farmers’ handbook on the on-farm practices for the safe use of wastewater in urban and peri-urban horticulture.

A toilet is not just a toilet, it’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker.  We must expand access to toilets and leave no one behind. Because whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is a human right.

More information on the World Toilet Day.