WORLD TOILET DAY 2018 AND ITS IMPACT ON THE GIRL CHILD
19th November, 2018
19th November, 2018
The United Nations, in collaboration with governments and other organizations, observes World Toilet Day on November 19. This is in response to a global problem – 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to proper sanitation. The aim of the Sustainable Development Goal 6: sanitation and water; is to reach everyone with sanitation, halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse, by 2030. The theme of this year’s World Toilet Day is about toilets and nature.
Quite obvious, is the devastating impact of exposure to human faeces –on a large scale– on public health, living conditions, education and economic productivity across the world. According to the UN at last year’s World Toilet Day themed “Wastewater”, despite huge technological, scientific and industrial advances, an estimated 108 million Nigerians still lack access to toilets.
But how exactly, does all this affect the girl child?
Statistics show that Nigeria is among the countries where open defecation is increasing and is No. 3 in the world's worst countries for the number of people without toilets. This comes at a heavy price: A WaterAid survey revealed one in five women in Lagos have experienced harassment or been physically threatened or assaulted when going for open defecation or using shared latrines.
Being denied access to safe, private toilets is particularly dangerous for women and girls, impacting on their health and education, and exposing them to an increased risk of harassment and possible attack. Women and girls resident in internally displaced camps are at high risks because of the lack of clean toilets. Most have taken to the bushes to obey nature’s call and as a result, the risks are endless. There are threats of snakes and sexual assault from men.
According to All Africa, diarrhea diseases linked to dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene claim the lives of 289,000 children under 5 each year, while repeated bouts of diarrhea contribute to malnutrition and stunting, causing impaired development and weakened immune systems.
Women who have suffered health related risks caused by poor sanitation and hygiene are more likely to experience complications with childbirth. They also increase the risk of infection during and after childbirth. Girls are more likely to miss classes while on their periods when their schools don't have clean toilets, and the same goes for female workers in areas that have poor facilities. None of this is acceptable and so much is preventable.
We must realize, across all sectors, that providing safe, accessible toilets to all within their premises is non-negotiable.
Only then will girls and women be able to fully participate in their communities, enjoying the health, education and gender equality premiums brought by just being able to use a safe toilet. When this is achieved, it simultaneously makes the SDG 6 more achievable.