World Toilet Day is a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis, a topic which, unfortunately, is often neglected and shrouded. Just because of the lack of a basic toilet, 4.5 billion people today are struggling to stay well, keep their children alive and work their way to a better future. Just because of lack of toilet, 13.5million people in Nigeria defecate in the open; leading to diarrhoeal diseases that, on average, claim the lives of almost 800 children every day. Toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy, as well as improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity, particularly women’s and girls’.
Lack of toilets at work and at home has a very severe impact on businesses through problems in the workforce: poor health, absenteeism, reduced concentration, exhaustion, and decreased productivity. Nigeria ranks 5th in the world among countries where open defecation is still a major problem and losses 5 percent of her GDP as a result of the loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of good toilets, sanitation and poor hygiene practice. The success of the SDGs, to eradicate extreme poverty and create a fairer, healthier, more sustainable world, will be limited because hundreds of millions of people lack decent toilets.
The POO Journey
The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day 2017 is “wastewater” which led to the question “where does our poo go?” For billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective. Poo gets out into the environment and spreads killer diseases, seriously undermining progress in health and child survival. Safely-managed wastewater has a massive potential as an affordable and sustainable source of energy, nutrients and water. If there’s one thing that unites humanity, it’s the call of nature. But depending on where we live, it’s not always possible to dispose of our bodily waste safely and responsibly.
To achieve SDG 6, we need everyone’s poo to take a 4-step journey:
- Containment. Poo must be deposited into a hygienic toilet and stored in a sealed pit or tank, separated from human contact.
- Transport. Pipes or latrine emptying services must move the poo to the treatment stage.
- Treatment. Poo must be processed into treated wastewater and waste products that can be safely returned to the environment.
- Disposal or reuse. Safely treated poo can be used for energy generation or as fertilizer in food production.
OpenMedic; a civic tech solution that enhances the ACCESSIBILITY of essential medical consumables in Nigeria has taken on social media to educate members of the public the need to have a safe toilet using infographics. According to the team lead; Dennis Akagha, “an investment in improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is probably the most effective investment Nigeria can make to grow its economy and better the lives of its people”. He also stressed the need for Nigeria to be looking at treating the wastewater where it is generated and also, treating wastewater, where it was generated, would encourage making manure and fertiliser from the waste.