Lack of Toilets Putting Half a Billion Children in Danger
19 November 2018 at 4:55 pm
The health and education of 620 million children around the world is being threatened by a lack of decent toilets, new research warns.
Sanitation and hygiene charity WaterAid released their State of the World’s Toilets 2018 report last Friday, in the lead up to World Toilet Day on 19 November.
The report found 620 million children worldwide do not have access to toilets at school, meaning one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets.
“For these young people, it’s normal to have to run home at breaktime to relieve themselves, use bushes on the school grounds, or miss lessons entirely because they are sick or on their period,” the report said.
Children are also being exposed to illnesses that could kill them, with repeated bouts of diarrhoea increasing many children’s chances of being malnourished.
Every year diarrhoea and intestinal infections kill nearly 140,000 school aged children, while almost 300,000 children are killed by dirty water and poor sanitation before reaching school age.
Rosie Wheen, WaterAid Australia’s CEO, said every child should be able to go to the toilet safely and with dignity whether at school or home.
“Children in every country of the world need access to safe toilets at home and at school. Their health, education and safety depend on it,” Wheen said.
“Bringing safe toilets to the one in three schools worldwide with no adequate toilets, should be a top priority.”
The problem is not limited to schools, with 2.3 billion people also lacking access to a basic household toilet.
The problem is most severe in Ethiopia, where 93 per cent of households lack an adequate toilet.
WaterAid is calling for governments to invest more money in sanitation and to improve transparency in monitoring and reporting.
The charity also wants school sanitation to be inclusive, allowing children with disabilities to use safe and accessible toilets at school.
Wheen making progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals would not be possible without decent toilets and good sanitation.
“If we are serious about all children and young people, wherever they are, whatever their gender, physical ability or community background, having their right to clean water and sanitation, we must take decisive and inclusive action now,” she said.