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More people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet!

More people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet!

True or false: More people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet. Well, hard to believe but it is actually true, about 2.6 billion people in the world are not able to use a clean and safe toilet. Whereas only around 1 billion don’t have access to a mobile phone. In western civilizations the biggest concern is how to keep toilets germ free — the fact that there is the luxury of a toilet everywhere is taken for granted.

In many rural areas of China and India in particular, people do their business outside. This is called open defecation. Half the population of the huge country of India doesn’t have access to a bathroom.

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The main reason for the lack of proper sanitation is poverty. A working toilet not only requires a bowl to sit on, but an entire waste system to get rid of the smelly stuff, and that is expensive. Other reasons toilets don’t exist in many areas are lack of water for proper flushing, and local beliefs and traditions. In some villages people meet for public squatting as a social event. In others, people are superstitious — they believe that digging holes and building toilets will bring bad luck. Some just don’t see the necessity of using a toilet.

But open defecation is a huge health hazard. It causes death for millions, prevents children from going to school, and threatens the environment. It can also hurt peoples’ dignity. That’s why toilets can change the world!

When human waste is handled safely in sewage systems, water for drinking and cooking is no longer at risk of contamination. Dangerous germs are kept from being ingested by humans. Malnutrition, blindness, and life-threatening illnesses are prevented.

When there are safe and private toilets, girls can stay in school and learn, especially once they’ve reached puberty. Girls and women can find a private place and won’t get sick by not being able to empty their bodies or face violence in hidden areas.

All over the world there are countless projects to bring toilets to every community. These projects require lots of money, as well as creativity in coming up with feasible solutions for different regions. They also require efforts to educate and convince community leaders, employers, and individuals of the benefits and urgency of clean toilets.

Toilet Facts

  • The average person spends three years of his or her life sitting on the toilet.
  • Before unused food ends up in the toilet it must travel thirty feet through your intestines.
  • Different names for toilets: loo, dunny, bog, khazi, privy, latrine, place of easement, house of honor.

What you can do:
Look for innovation labs and science fairs at your school to join the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

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