#Why there are no toilets.*
Rose George states: “IT’S COMPLETELY SHAMEFUL BECAUSE IT IS SO PREVENTABLE.” This problem has been around since the beginning of time, but we need to look at it now and see there is a way to help.
A simple solution that can be seen is giving people a toilet. It sounds simple, but we can’t just go throwing toilets out and think that’ll solve the problem. People need to be educated about the importance of sanitation and toilets, both in other countries and ours. We don’t appreciate what we have in terms of toilets. A lot of countries don’t use toilet paper, and we find it as a necessity. If our education on toilets rises even a little, we’d appreciate it more and see that this toilet challenge is of massive importance that other people need to see, too. Still, we can’t go out throwing any old toilet. Not all terrains can place a septic tank in the ground, or build a facility to treat all of the waste matter. In order to give people toilets, we need special toilets. They need to be according to the people’s needs and utilize what they have. Social entrepreneur Bindeshwar Pathak has transformed the village of Hir Mathala with a two pit design toilet that turns human waste into fertilizer. It’s no wonder he’s known for being the “toilet guru”. This is only one solution, and it’s a start to help the toilet crisis, but at 250$ a piece and considering that is what some people make a year, it can still use some improvements. If we can have an Iphone 6 already, I’m sure we can innovate some toilets.
Now, not all of us has the resources to go out and create toilets on the whim, but that doesn’t make us useless. The most important thing we can do right now, is what we’re actually doing at this very moment: talking about it.
Let’s Just Get Interested
Governments aren’t doing anything about sanitation because of our turned heads and stuck up noses. Society needs to become aware of this detrimental problem, that people are dying to use the bathroom. Organizations like the Gate’s Foundation need our help; in the form of donations or as a follower for their causes. They receive little attention for trying to help this big problem, and it’s our job to change that. Toilet talk will turn from unfabulous into a life saving piece of information. The more interest, the more governments will have a reason to increase their budgets to help sanitation. This is exactly what World Toilet Day has done. World Toilet Day has been bringing awareness to toilets by making the toilet challenge eye popping and interesting with a bit of humor campaigns such as the “Big Squat.” Since it’s establishment on November 19, 2001, it has caught the attention of NGOs, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society organizations and the international community. The day to celebrate and give the word towards toilets is out there, but it’s of lacking interest to many people. If we can just change the way we see toilets, people will stop losing their lives. The chance to change 2.6 billion people’s lives with a toilet is out there, it’s up to us to flush it down.
A few years ago my friends asked me if I ate cats. My friends have known me for a long time. Why would anyone want to do that? Cats were worshiped by Egyptians, have nine lives, and the sweetest smiles. I have a cat, named Miss Kitty, and try to take care of her to my best abilities. I feed her, pet her, not eat her. I’m quite jealous of cats honestly. They get to sleep all day, and all night, and with one less thing to worry about: poop. They never have to see it, smell, it, or touch it ever again, instead they leave it for their owners to clean up. It’s like Disney said: “Everybody wants to be a cat.” Okay, not everyone. There are some people who are allergic to them. Would that mean they would be allergic to themselves? Allergic or not, 2.5 billion people wouldn’t mind because they lack something most cats have the pleasure of using everyday: a sanitary toilet. I’ll let for float there for a second before it sinks in. Sanitation, as used by the World Health Organization, refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of urine and feces. Cats have better sanitation than 35% of the world’s population. Instead of fields of grass, it’s literal fields of poop.
We don’t have this problem here so it may sound a bit funny and totally disgusting. What we fail to see is that the lack of toilets has detrimental effects bigger than its smell.
We’ll see the big piece of poop clogging our toilet, then dissect the causes that’s inside, and flush it all down with some good clean solutions.
Poop is gross; it smells, it attracts flies, and it’s not exactly the perfect conversation starter. “Hey, have you backed the brown bus out yet?” Our bowels is an awkward conversation to hold so we just don’t. It’s not surprising considering most of us have a toilet to use. In fact, almost every building we go in has a toilet, while in places like Africa some schools don’t even have one. We shy away from listening about the 2.6 billion people who don’t have the luxury of a sanitary toilet because we don’t see the problem in buckets or rivers, it’s all flushed away into a nice place of disposal. Simply, we aren’t interested.
And surprisingly, neither are people who don’t have toilets. A survey conducted by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics found that the majority of people who gained access to a latrine in their homes didn’t even use it. People who have lived their lives without a toilet aren’t going to change their ways automatically and have no reason to without only 15% of budgets going towards educating people on why sanitation is important. Some people claim it’s more convenient to go wherever they want, and that feces shouldn’t be under their same roof. They wouldn’t be saying that if they had been taught about the 100,000 tons of excrement that heads to markets everyday on fruit and vegetables (UNICEF).
Arno Rosemarin, senior research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) EcoSanRes (ecological sanitation research) programme states: “Without the public dialogue, sanitation will remain dysfunctional, undeveloped and underfunded in most of the world.” Governments know there is a need for sanitation, but aren’t going to try to improve sanitation if no one cares enough to talk about it. Siberian President Goodluck Jonathan told the country that by 2015, 75% of Nigerians will have access to safe drinking water and better sanitation. In 2010, the budget towards his goal was slashed by 65%. No interest means there’s no reason to invest in it. Countries such as Ghana and Liberia say they have no donor funds to help them, and the reason is no donor is interested. Governments are wanting to give their people the sanitation they need, it’s the lack of interest from donors and civilians that makes their want seem like a lost cause.
See that everyone’s interests aren’t much for the dirty side of people’s lives, we turn our attention to the cleanliness of clean water. Clean water is life, but can also kill. There’s no point in giving clean water when it’s just going to get contaminated. The life saving gift water is turns useless without sanitation.
People have to resort to places like fields when they have to go, and that doesn’t mean there’s always someone to pick it up right after. When feces is out in the open for days after days, it grows, both in the amount on the field and the bacteria and parasites on it. People who live without shoes can accidently step on the infected fecal matter. Parasites such as hookworms enter the body through the skin. Some may say a way to avoid stepping on the infected feces would be to bury it; this is where the rule out of sight out of mind doesn’t apply.
Fecal matter seeps into the ground contaminating nearby water sources such as wells and rivers. People depend on this water to cook, clean, bathe, and drink with. Sadly, this water has been contaminated with unseen dangers called diarrheal diseases. This is a category includes diseases such as cholera, typhoid and amoebic dysentery. The World Health Organization sees the lack of sanitation as the cause of 88% of these diseases. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer in children under the ages of five. The dehydration and malnutrition diarrhea kills up to 4000 children a day. Families without a sanitary toilet are constantly surrounded by disease. This causes their body to direct all of the nutrients to help constantly fight off the infections. In time, the body loses the ability to gain nutrients directly or from food. This means that even living in a well-fed family, the children may never reach a healthy weight with the food’s nutrients going right through them. This has an irreversible effect of stunted growth and tissue synthesis. Studies have shown that it can also decrease the child’s lifespan.
Some people wait all day to go to the bathroom so they don’t have to be exposed in broad daylight. This means that in the middle of the night they walk through a pitch black field to relieve themselves. Without seeing where they’re going, they’re more likely to trip and gain injuries, or unknowingly walking to their deaths. Last May (2014) two girls, ages 14 and 16, went out in the middle of the fields to relieve themselves. They were found the next day hanging from a tree raped and murdered. The sad thing is, this isn’t the only case of violence and danger that occurs just because they don’t have a safe place to relieve themselves.